• 14 May 2020 10:38 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    Getting out on the water with caution

    We are all members and as such must bear responsibility for the well being of all. Please carefully read the following sections: 1) COVID-19 Guidelines 2) Before Coming, and 3) At the Club.

    1) COVID-19 Guidelines

    1. Club members with any possible signs of COVID such as cough, sniffles, fever, headache, lack of smell and/or taste must seek medical help and not visit the club
    2. Club members who have been exposed to anyone with COVID or are suspicious of having COVID, must stay home 14 days
    3. Club members are responsible for ensuring the safety of others and themselves
    4. Club members should clean anything they touch that will be touched by others, with sanitizer or soap and water
    5. Club members should not assume, however, that common surfaces are clean. On the contrary, they should assume the opposite and do frequent hand washing in an appropriate fashion for at least 20 seconds
    6. Club members should avoid touching their face
    7. Club members should avoid close contact with others and should be at least 2 metres/ 6 feet away from others and probably more
    8. Club members should not assume that if they are wearing a mask, this will necessarily protect them from getting COVID. Wearing a mask is more protective of others by helping to prevent the transmission of virus from the person wearing the mask. It has less protection for the person wearing the mask of getting the virus from others and especially from someone not wearing a mask. Club members can wear masks but still keep their distance from others
    9. On the water, sailors should be as far away from others as possible, and at least several metres. Recommendations re runners / bike riders, etc., have been to stay considerably more than 2 metres away as people exerting themselves, as may be the case in stronger winds, may spread the virus longer distances
    10. Generally, the virus is spread by droplets from a person's cough, sneeze, breath and by touching something contaminated with the virus and then touching one's face
    11. COVID is very contagious and is probably significantly spread unknowingly from asymptomatic individuals or from people with minimal symptoms
    12. While many, if not most, club members are in good health, they should not necessarily assume that they will not get severely ill, and at any rate may unknowingly pass the virus onto a more compromised person who could get very ill and / or die
    13. Members should be encouraged to keep their distance from others, not assume that what they are touching is free of virus, frequently wash their hands and not touch their face

    2) Before Coming 

    1. You must bring hand sanitizer with 70% alc. and/or soap & water
    2. A face mask, and ziplock bag for safekeeping it on you, is recommended
    3. Bring your own water, cleaning supplies, dishes, utensils, thermos, and personal chair if needed
    4. No guests at this time

    3) At Our Club

    1. The clubhouse will be closed. Practise 6 feet / 2 metre spacing everywhere
    2. Washrooms may be infection hotspots. Sanitize door handles, toilet seat cover before and after use. They will be cleaned on Fridays
    3. Front Gate: You must use sanitizer on the lock and gate before and after. Mowing under your boat? Sanitize shed lock, shed handles, lawn mower handles and cord handle before and after
    4. In larger boats, such as cats, a second person should only be a household member. Luckily, most of our boats are for only one person and are shore launched which is an ideal situation 
    5. We are not permitted to run any organized programs or events
    6. Sanitize your hands and cellphone after handling anything shared

    4) COVID-19 In Toronto

    The trend in new infections has not yet started to fall in Toronto by mid-May as it has elsewhere. We still need to be cautious until we are vaccinated. Please see COVID-19: Status of Cases in Toronto.

    According to current evidence, the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes. Symptoms have included: cough, fever, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia. In severe cases, infection can lead to death (650 to date in Toronto). Symptoms can be mild and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure. 

    Please visit the following resources. And please verify news sources you see online as the world collectively responds to this tragic pandemic. 

    Public health information about COVID-19

    5) Boating Guidelines

    A) City of Toronto & Province of Ontario directive

    B) Government of Canada boating directives 

    Note: The guidelines were written by member, MD Larry Chad and sections by Grounds Rat, Barbara Anderson and Web Rat, Matthew Burpee. They will be updated as the season progresses through stages of relaxing restrictions and in keeping with directives from the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, the Ontario Sailing Association and the Outer Harbour Sailing Federation. For information about clubs please see: Guidance on Health and Safety for Marinas during COVID-19 (PDF). 

  • 25 Mar 2020 5:04 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    After considerable discussion during a conference call last night attended by all members of the Club executive, it was unanimously decided that the Club will be closed effective 4 pm on Sunday, March 29.

    The lock on the gate will be changed and only one or two executive members will have keys.

    The decision to close is based on the COVID-19 pandemic and the declarations of emergency made by the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto.

    The delay in closing is to permit notification to all members and provide a brief period for members to remove their boats and trailers should they wish to do so before the Club is locked down. The combination for the lock on the Clubhouse door will be changed when the gate lock is changed. Please bring hand sanitizer. Or bring soap to wash your hands with lake water brought onto land. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Keep distance from any others.

    Anyone with a catamaran on the beach is urged to move it to the catamaran parking area to the east of the Club road. High water is forecast for Lake Ontario and could occur during the period when the Club is locked down. Any catamarans left on the beach will be solely at the risk of the owner and the Club accepts no liability for any loss or damage to catamarans left on the beach.

    All members are urged to make sure their boat is properly secured especially those with kayaks or canoes on the racks prior to lock down.

    Spring clean-up is indefinitely postponed. 

    The Club will re-open once government authorities indicate that normal activities can resume.

    Norm Lamb

    Chief Rat (Commodore)


    Outer Harbour Sailing Federation

    City of Toronto COVID-19

    Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19

    Health Canada COVID-19 

    World Health Organization COVID-19 

    A letter from the City of Toronto for Water Rats, April 9, 2020

  • 25 Mar 2020 11:13 AM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    The international body that helps regulate water levels on Lake Ontario is forecasting a return to flood-level heights this early summer but not as high as in 2017 and 2019. 

    The International Lake Ontario - Saint Lawrence River Board (ILO-SLRB)  

  • 10 Sep 2019 12:12 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    Club events

    Please join Sunday races into October. The Water Rats Club BBQ on was on September 12 and the Water Rats Cat Regatta was on September 21 - 22. Upcoming: 2019 AGM on November 3, Fall cleanup day on November 9, Holiday season party on December 7.

    Club news

    Water Rat’s own Joe van Rossem finished 2nd in his class though tied with 1st in points at the 2019 Laser Masters World Championship. Well done Joe! Very close racing as there was only 1 point between 1st, 2nd & 3rd.

    Congratulations to The Water Rat club founder Paul Henderson on becoming the first Sailor to be inducted into the Ontario Sport Hall of Fame.

    Please add your photo in the directory so members can connect names and faces. Login and select members.

    On LinkedIn? Please press "Follow" on our new LinkedIn organization profile at…/thewaterratsailingclub/about/ If you volunteered on the board in the past (you rock) consider updating your LinkedIn profile with the name "The Water Rat Sailing Club" and then your role.

    Please consider joining the Outer Harbour Chat (OHSF) on Facebook to learn about local concerns. If interested in the future of the Port Lands. You are invited to join a discussion September 11 at 5:30pm at Westwood Sailing Club. All welcome.

    A Hobie 18 and a Sea Kayak are for sale and more items are wanted. 

    Looking back, it was the wettest year on record with our road and beaches flooded. But it was a good summer as we had our 50th celebration party, good turnouts for Tuesday evening races, and members won in competitions abroad. What was your favourite moment? 

  • 30 Jul 2019 1:00 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    Water Rat and Team Canada member Dan Borg won 3rd at World Championship Hobie 14, FF Voile in Paris last week! Congrats Dan! 

    Lean more about Dan on Team Canada's page.

  • 27 Jun 2019 5:08 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    The first sailing club in the Portlands area of Toronto recently celebrated 50 years of providing low-cost and low-impact access for sailors and paddlers. See event announcement for background. 

    The day

    Event organizer Jordan Mitchell opened with how the event came together and how the club has transformed from a post-apocalyptic wasteland to a beautiful green space. Also, mentioned that during the planning of the event, some incredible stories came out of the woodwork (e.g., Water Rat costumes from the early 1970s, the Poona Pot Sail/Ski Championship and the Water Rat 10 Commandments).

    Club member Jimmy Sabourin joined in for a land and water acknowledgement in Mohawk tradition, gave thanks to the land, water, winds and rains and talked about the importance of bringing your best self. 

    Julie Dabrusin, MP for Toronto–Danforth, as a member of the neighbouring Windsurfing Club, she hadn't seen the Water Rat from the inside and was amazed at how beautiful the grounds were. She talked about the importance of having access to the water so close to downtown and the importance of protecting it from plastic waste.

    Paul Henderson, Club founder, spoke for about 20 minutes on the development of the Water Rat and all of the clubs along the Portlands (see his Canadian Yachting article). He later cut a cake and showed the members the first membership badges for him, Gordon Norton and Bill Cox. 

    Norm Lamb, our Chief Rat, thanked the 50th anniversary organizing committee and talked about the importance of member-run clubs where so many people dedicate their time for the enjoyment of others.

    Paula Fletcher, City of Toronto Councillor for Toronto Danforth, talked about the tenacity of the club members for fighting to stay put on an incredible piece of water and land. She also planted a silver maple tree. 

    Photos and video

    YouTubeFlickrFacebook and Instagram.

    50th Slideshow

    For 50 years The Water Rat Sailing Club has championed dinghy sailing in Toronto's Outer Harbour. 200 members and their families participate in dinghies, catamarans, canoes and kayaks. The volunteer-run non-profit co-op was founded in 1969 and has one of the largest Laser fleets in Canada.

  • 21 Jun 2019 12:00 AM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    Discussion online

    Randy McMeekin: "Ray Davies is the 2019 European Masters Champion! You have done Water Rats, District 3 and all of Canada very proud! Al Clark from British Columbia won the Grand Master division as well. Two Canadians at the top of the podium and this international event.Well done Ray! Beers on us when you get home."

    Johan van Rossem: "Congratulations Ray Davies! This is a big deal, to win the master division in Europa is a big deal and he is not just any old Rat. He is a Water Rat. Well done Ray."

    Ray Davies: "Thanks everyone for the warm wishes. Overall, I had a great time and was very pleased with my results. Only had one bad race over the 9 race series. The venue hosted the World Masters previously and I can see why - consistent sea breeze, sunny and warm water. We didn’t race in anything less than 5 knots and the final race was probably gusting to 25 knots offshore. Excellent race management and was fun to race the trapezoids reaching in the gusty winds. Very proud to rep Water Rats and Canada at this event.

  • 15 Jun 2019 9:53 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    The first sailing club in the Portlands area of Toronto celebrates 50 years of providing low-cost and low-impact access for sailors and paddlers

    Press Release (PDF) | Event Registration

    TORONTO – The Water Rat Sailing Club will be hosting its 50th Anniversary Celebration (1969-2019) on Saturday, June 22, 2019 from 11am to 4pm (rain date: Sunday, June 23) located at 4 Regatta Road, Toronto.

    At 1pm, the club will welcome Julie Dabrusin (MP for Toronto-Danforth), Paul Henderson (the club’s co-founder and former Olympian) as well as a tree planting ceremony with Paula Fletcher (Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth City Councillor). The event will round out with a no rules open Team Challenge/Poker Run (sailing and paddling) in the afternoon.

    The Water Rat Sailing Club was the first sailing club established east of Cherry Beach in the Portlands area of Toronto. Paul Henderson, Gordon Norton and Bill Cox gathered a group of sailors from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club (RCYC) in 1969 and worked with the Toronto Port Authority to lease a piece of land that had served as the test site for the Leslie Spit. The hot water discharge from the nearby Hearn Generating Station allowed the keen sailors to continue racing year around. The name of the club “Water Rat” originated from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s book The Wind in the Willows and the founders borrowed a line from the book for the club motto: “There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”. Willow trees were planted in 1970 at a time when there was sparse vegetation in the area and have grown to create a picturesque site, used over the years as a backdrop in several Canadian TV programs and films such as Down the Road Again (see clip).

    Shortly after the establishment of the Water Rat, seven additional clubs sprung up along Regatta Road, making it a hub for dinghy sailing, windsurfing and paddling in Toronto. The Water Rat Sailing Club is well-known for its casual atmosphere; instead of a “commodore”, the top executive is known as the “Chief Rat” and for more than 40 years, the clubhouse was a ship wheelhouse from a freighter.

    As of 2019, the Water Rat Sailing Club continues to be a vibrant, not-for-profit co-operative club with more than 200 members. The focus is to provide low-cost access to sailing and paddling with a minimal environmental footprint. The club is proud of its connection to the Laser sailboat, a four-metre single-handed dinghy sailboat designed by Canadian Bruce Kirby, built by Ian Bruce with the sail designed by Hans Fogh. The Laser has become the Water Rat’s largest fleet with more than 75 boats. Many Water Rat members compete regularly in weekly club races as well as Canadian, U.S. and international regattas and throughout the club’s history, several Olympic and National champions have honed their sailboat racing skills at the club. In addition to the Laser, there is also a large fleet of catamarans, mono-hull sailboats, wind surfboards, kayaks and canoes. 


    Matthew Burpee, Water Rats Communications, e-mail, 416-270-7701

    Jordan Mitchell, 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee member, e-mail.


    Weather forecast

    Articles about The Water Rat Sailing Club

    • Joe Berkeley, Rat Pack, March 23, 2016 
    Articles about the Laser


    Paul Henderson was instrumental in assisting with the founding of the Outer Harbour Sailing Community including The Water Rat SC, Mooredale SC, St. Jamestown SC, the Hanlan Boat Club and more.

    The clubhouse was a former ship wheelhouse for almost 4 decades. More: Flickr 

    One of ten willow trees planted in 1970

    Waterway acknowledgement

    Ontarí'io means "Lake of Shining Waters" in Huron. The Water Rats Sailing Club is grateful to have the opportunity to enjoy these shining waters and leased beachfront park. We are accountable to our local relationships and reflect on the past. For millennia the waterways by this Great Lake, marsh and rivers behind us have been the passageways and home for many indigenous peoples. In the 2nd millennium the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River have lived in the vicinity before us and keep living here now, as we live here and keep living here. We also note that after more than a century of newcomers to Canada's largest province, with now the fourth largest city in North America, there has never been a purchase of the Great Lakes, just parcels of land around them. 

    About land acknowledgements

    Event registration 

  • 14 Jun 2019 12:45 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)


    On Saturday June 22nd, we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary party. Among others, sailing legend Paul Henderson will be joining for the celebration.

    To add to the festivities during the day we will be holding the first annual Water Rat Team Challenge.

    Here’s how it works:

    Each team must consist of 5 sailors and three boats as follows:
    1 Laser with 1 skipper
    1 catamaran with 2 crew
    1 kayak or canoe with 2 crew

    The teams will assemble, rigged, dressed and ready to go on either the south beach or the lagoon depending on the wind/weather.

    First off the beach will be the Laser- Le mans style with as much help from teammates as possible. The Laser will sail a short distance to an anchored boat where they will receive a playing card. The Laser will sail back to the beach and tag the catamaran to go next. The catamaran team will sail to the boat and receive 2 cards, sail back and tag in the kayak/canoe team who will paddle to receive 2 last cards and then will return to the beach.

    Best hand wins the competition but bonus points may be awarded for best time overall and maybe for best costumes, or maybe for something else totally random. Note the judges are omnipotent and are to be revered, but will likely be easily bribed.

    There are basically no rules. All methods of propulsion, cheating and misbehaving are permitted. However, safe boating practices must be followed with appropriate PFD’s etc. Boarding, contacting, or ramming a competing boat is not allowed, but mooning and mocking is encouraged.

    You may form teams on your own, or if you’d rather you can simply be assigned to a team on the big day.

    The winners will receive huge prizes of little value and one year of bragging rights.

    If you are interested please let me know as soon as possible at, or via FB messenger, or via text at 416-712-7444, or by smoke signal.

    Should be a blast and will allow us to get to know each other better. May the best team win.

    Race Rat Randy (RRR)

    Facebook Event

  • 04 Jun 2019 2:19 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

    Please RSVP and add these social events to your calendar or Facebook. Volunteers are always wanted so contact the Social Rat, Monika Roschlaub

    June 22 50th Anniversary CelebrationRSVP | Add to calendar | Facebook

    July 11 BBQRSVP | Add to calendar | Facebook

    August 8 BBQRSVP | Add to calendar | Facebook

    September 12 BBQRSVP | Add to calendar | Facebook 

    December 7 Holiday PartyRSVP | Add to calendar | Facebook 

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