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West Van's Hollyburn Sailing Club thrashed in Jan. 7 storm

Volunteer-run club is planning for quick repairs, long-term solutions to prepare for sea level rise

West Vancouver’s Hollyburn Sailing Club took a thrashing in Friday’s (Jan. 7) windstorm, dealing damage to the facility.

But Hollyburn communications officer Mike Bretner said club members are hoping to have things shipshape before long.

Friday’s king tide coupled with wind gusts of up to 81 kilometres per hour sent waves crashing through the 40-year-old building’s curtain wall, and swamping the compound.

“We've got somewhere between six inches and a foot of sand throughout most of our sailing club,” Bretner said on Monday.

The club’s fleet of training vessels were all pushed about three to five metres back but thankfully, most of the damage was cosmetic, Bretner said.

On the east side of the building, the earth beneath the blacktop has been washed out, with some parts down more than half a metre, Bretner said. That will have to be filled before the area can be repaved.

Structural engineers have deemed the building safe but the burden of the repairs will fall to the non-profit’s membership.

“The idea at this point is we're going to have a repair party this Saturday. We're going to take all of the sand out, throw it back into the ocean, and then we're going to reinstall the support posts that hold up the deck, one at a time, and then rehang that curtain wall on the outside,” Bretner said.

Despite the damage, things could have been far worse, Bretner said.

“Can you imagine if one of those logs had been on our beach? It could have wiped out the whole compound,” he said.

The building was designed to withstand the occasional intrusion from the ocean, and it has survived worse floods, Bretner said. But the club is now strategizing for more events of this type in the future. That will require physical mitigation measures and some help from the District of West Vancouver, which leases the land to the club.

“We believe that sea level rise is real, and we really should start to consider how we're going to move into the future,” he said. “We'll probably be there for another 50 or 60 years, and they're saying that there's going to be significant sea level rise in the next 50 to 100 years.”

Key to that, though, will be the district renewing the lease for the club on a long-term basis, allowing them to pursue financing and long-term solutions.

Sailors being a resourceful type, the club held its regularly scheduled race on Sunday, Bretner added.