This is a good time to look back and reminisce on what has happened in the life of the Club during the fifty-eight years(50 in the committee) I have been a member.
The outbreak of the Second World War resulted in the Mediterranean Rowing Club and the Calpe Rowing Club being requisitioned by the Military. Reason given for requisitioning the Med. was that it was sited too close to the Spanish frontier. In Calpe's case the reason given was that it was inside the harbour. Richard Giraldi, a very active club member, who later became secretary of the club for many years, soon realized that the Calpe was being used as a canteen for military personnel. He saw no reason why the Club members should be barred from using their club's facilities. Richard set about galvanizing influential members of the club into making representations to this effect. Eventually a meeting was held with the Governor and their request acceded to. Members were however required to identify themselves to the sentry that was on permanent duty at the Club door.
The end of the war saw a resurgence of rowing on the Rock. At first the Med. continued to use the Calpe to house their boats while they recovered the use of their clubhouse and put it in order.
The Club Fours were a major event in those days. The members' wives would take it upon themselves to provide a very varied and exquisite tea for those attending the festivities. The event would be graced by the presence of the Governor, the Club's Patron, and his wife. They would arrive by sea in the Admiral's barge and His Excellency would undertake the presentation of trophies to all the winners.
In those early post-war years the club's social life was most buoyant. Two bands would usually be engaged to play at the Christmas and New Year dances. These events were the talk of the town and were invariably oversubscribed. They had the effect of encouraging the committee to organize other dances during the year. Fancy Dress was the order of the day for these dances. One such dance had Tonga as its theme. The Club president, W Thomson, who was a very large man and held in awe by many, let his hair down on this occasion and arrived dressed up as Queen Salote of Tonga on board the dingy "Aby". Needless to say a reception committee was there to receive him with all due pomp and ceremony.
Some old timers, who are no longer with us , come to mind. One was Alfredo (El Pillin) Aonso. He was a shy man who invariably was at the club by 6 a.m. and took it upon himself to do all the odd jobs that needed doing. Another was Paco Azopardi. He was also a club fixture who produced the most exquisite cocktails when he wasn't working away sorting out the Club accounts. Levy Cazes was an accomplished pianist around whom all the members would gather for a singsong whenever there was a get together.
There was also Manolo ( Chiquet) Imossi who in his younger days played for Spanish First Division team Valencia. Chiquet started training crews when he was in his sixties and continued to do so, very successfully, well into his seventies. The yola "Chiquet" was named in his memory.
The land reclamation that took place in the Montagu basin meant that the Calpe became land-locked. Negotiations had to be entered into with the Government of the day in order to obtain an alternative site with access to the sea and the re-provisioning of the facilities the Club had enjoyed. The negotiating team was made up of Sir Howard Davis (President), Bramy Benatar (Vice- president) and Fernando Devincenzi (Hon. Secretary). It soon became clear that the cost of re-provisioning would have to be negotiated with the Developers of the Montagu basin. After countless meetings the Developers (Gibraltar Homes Limited) made an offer of £175,000-00. This offer was rejected, as was a subsequent one of £400,000-00. Eventually the figure of £450,000-00 was agreed. The firm of Mackley was given the contracted to build the new club facilities on a Design and Build basis. The final negotiations were entrusted to the new President and Brian Francis, his Vice -president. The Club is greatly indebted to Brian for visiting the site daily to ensure that the work was performed to the required standard and agreed specifications.
An address Sir William Thomson once gave at an AGM made a great impression on me. He mentioned three objectives that one must observe in running the Club, these were:
1. To strengthen the finances of the club.
2. To stimulate the interest in rowing.
3. To maintain the traditions and standards of the Club.
In my contribution to the running of the Club I never lost sight of these three objectives. I commend these three objectives to all those entrusted with managing the affairs of the Club.
A J (Bramy) Benatar OBE