• 25 Mar 2020 5:04 PM | Matthew Burpee

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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


    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

    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 

    Google Calendar

  • 04 Jun 2019 3:46 AM | Matthew Burpee

    Top 3 Laser Full Rig

    1.) Gord Welsh

    2.) Pat Wachholz

    3.) Ray Davies

    Top 3 Radials

    1.) Andrew Mahoney

    2.) Julie Stewart

    3.) Pam Shinkoda

    Thanks to all the volunteers who made this regatta a success, particularly those who covered for me while unexpectently away on business.

    Thanks Ben and Brett Slykerman for the great day 2 and awards pics.

    See you all at Fall War 2019! - Randy McMeekin

    Select image to expand:

    June 8, day 1, provisional results after one discard

    Registration form:

    Notice of Regatta

    Laser Standard, Laser Radial, and Laser 4.7

    June 8-9, 2019. Water Rat Sailing Club, Toronto, Ontario

    Organizing Authority: Water Rats Sailing Club, 4 Regatta Road, Toronto, Ontario. Main Contact is Randy McMeekin or via cell at 416-712-7444.

    Rules: All races will be governed by the rules as defined in the Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-2020 (“RRS”) and Laser Class rules, except as modified by the sailing instructions.

    The Sailing Instructions will be available online at and during onsite registration.

    Eligibility and Entry: Laser Standard, Laser Radial, and Laser 4.7. Each class must have a minimum of 5 entries for a separate start. Competitors shall enter by completing the entry form available on the event website and paying the required fees. 

    Entry in the event is not final until registration is completed. All competitors must check in on site to complete registration.

    Entry Fee: $40.00

    The entry fee includes coffee and muffins each morning, water between races, a Saturday after racing BBQ (hamburgers and Sausage) and a Water Rats 50th anniversary t-shirt. Bring your own refreshments if desired to after racing socializing.

    Format/Racing: The low-point scoring system, RRS Appendix A will be used. Short courses will be set to allow 4-5 races per day. One (1) race shall constitute a regatta. The number of races per day will be determined by the Race Committee.

    Schedule: Saturday June 8 Skippers Meeting 1000 hrs
    - First Gun 1100 hrs
    - Sunday June 9 First Gun 1000 hrs

    Equipment: Regatta is open to all Laser boats with class legal equipment. Note however that non-legal sails (ie, Intensity brand sails) may be used in the regatta. All sails should have a number identification of some kind.

    Insurance: Each competitor is required to have third party liability insurance no less than CDN $2,000,000. 

    Venue and Race Course Area: Racing will be held south of the Water Rat Sailing Club in the Toronto Outer Harbour. Boats, trailers, dollies and cars may be stored at the WRSC free of charge. Camping on site may be permitted upon request. Information about the sailing club can be found at

    Additional Information: Check the event registration page at or contact Randy McMeekin at or 416-712-7444

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