Betty Williams - tribute to one of Exe Sailing Club's longest serving members

THE FUNERAL has taken place for one of the longest serving members of Exe Sailing Club, writes Mike Rice. Mrs Betty Williams, who died on September 24, joined the club 25 years after the club was formed.

THE FUNERAL has taken place for one of the longest serving members of Exe Sailing Club, writes Mike Rice.

Mrs Betty Williams, who died on September 24, joined the club 25 years after the club was formed.

Born in Exeter on December 13, 1915, formerly Miss Betty Hexter, the admiral of the club won the first race she entered.

Mrs Williams was from a sporty family and won the Exeter Tennis Championships aged 19.


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She then met her future husband, keen sailor Howard Williams, and took up sailing in 1937.

The couple were married on November 5, 1938, and set up home at 3 Claremont Terrace, now 41 Salterton Road.

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With the onset of war, Howard went to work in a factory in Chard as an inspector of new Spitfires. The family lived there for much of the war and Betty had two children, Francis and Sonia.

By 1946 they were back sailing at the Exe Sailing Club.

Betty also played badminton at the Cranford Club. She raced National 12s at Exe for the next ten years, often beating the best male helmsmen of the time such as Derek Rowsell and Peter and John Dixon.

In those days, the two most prestigious dinghies were the International 14 foot dinghy and the National 12 foot dinghy. Both classes were raced at Exe and annual national championships were held around the country.

The premier trophy for the National 12 class was The Burton Cup. Howard won the Burton in 1947. Betty had to wait another year when crewing for Bruce Banks, Exe's first Olympic helmsman, when she won Burton week.

In 1956, Howard bought an International Dragon, a keelboat, and for the next ten years much of their sailing was done at the Royal Torbay Yacht Club where Dragons were raced. They attended various regattas and Betty was proud to have been a member of the team that beat the French in their own waters at Deauville.

The traffic between Exmouth and Torquay on a Saturday was even worse in those days than now and so they bought a splendid fast cruiser, Monaco Mermaid in which to travel to Torquay and avoid the traffic.

They were also very supportive of the Exe Cadet sailors and took them by sea to race at open meetings in Torbay. Monaco Mermaid was their boat from 1964-1976.

Howard served as Commodore of the Exe Sailing Club from 1972-1975 and Betty ably assisted him during his period of office. She was particularly noted for making new members welcome.

After Howard's term of office as commodore, they tried cruising in Nyaminyami, a Contessa 32.

At Betty's suggestion they bought their first yacht, Rakhsh, a Sadler 32. Later they had Stardust, a Sadler 34.

Betty enjoyed her cruising and, when Howard passed away in 1993, sailed Stardust for many more years, once winning the Little Ship Cup for her cruise to Falmouth with Bruce Banks' widow Rosemary when both ladies were in their 80s.

Betty was sadly predeceased by her daughter Sonia, but is survived by Francis and six grandchildren.

Her competitive spirit has been handed on. Francis won the Merlin Rocket Championships in 1971 and campaigned a Tornado for Olympic selection.

Son-in-law Colin campaigned a Finn for Olympic selection. Grandson Ian this year retained the title as World Match Racing Champion having been World Youth Match Racing Champion in the past.

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