SM SAILING, ITS HISTORY
In 1925 the first national sailing organization, the North American Yacht Racing Union was formed to further the best interests of yacht racing. On December 17, 1929, a group of representatives from clubs in our area met in New York City to discuss the benefits to be derived from the formation of an association of local clubs and an association membership in the North American Yacht Racing Union. The following yacht clubs were represented at the meeting: Beverly, Edgartown, Mattapoisett, Nantucket, and Wianno. It was unanimously agreed that an association of yacht clubs located in the Southern Massachusetts area would promote yacht racing, assure unification of rules and their interpretation, encourage sportsmanship, and assist cooperation among member yacht clubs. After further discussion a set of by-laws was proposed and adopted. Dues of $25.00 per member club were established, including $5.00 as their share of the
cost of the Association’s membership in The North American Yacht Racing Union. It was agreed to invite seven other active clubs in the district to become members.In accordance with the newly adopted By-Laws an election of officers was held, who would make up the Executive Committee. The results were as follows:
Commodore Leonard Kebler of Edgartown was elected President; Commodore John W. Hornor of Wianno,Vice President; H. Nelson Emmons of Beverly, Secretary; Austin Strong of Nantucket,Treasurer; and as members-at-large, Reginald W. Bird of New Bedford and Rear Commodore John Reilly, Jr., of Nantucket.
In July 1930 the First Annual Meeting was held at Woods Hole and the original slate of officers was reelected. There were now ten members clubs including Beverly, Duxbury, Edgartown, Nantucket, New Bedford, Quissett, Mattapoisett,
Vineyard Haven,Waquoit Bay, and Wianno. In that same year the Vineyard Haven Junior Crew gained for itself and SM Sailing national prominence by winning the Sears Cup. The following year, 1931, Vineyard Haven conducted the first district elimination for the National Junior Championship to be held in this area. In 1932 the “whale” insignia was adopted. The year of 1934 was a memorable one in the growth of our Association, for we now had fifteen member clubs.A Vineyard Haven crew again won the National Junior Championship.To top the year off, SM Sailing sponsored the Centennial Race around Block Island in commemoration of the first recorded yacht race in American waters, which occurred in Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds in 1835 between the schooner yacht “Wave” owned by Commodore John Cox Stevens of New York and the schooner yacht “Sylph” owned by Commodore Robert Bennett Forbes of Boston and Naushon Island. The event attracted wide attention. Descendants of the Forbes and Stevens families presented trophies and thirty-two entries were received for the two cruising classes.The race started off Vineyard Haven, then around Block Island to a finish off Edgartown, for a distance of one hundred and thirteen miles.
The year 1950 marked another milestone in the Association’s growth. During that year SM Sailing was incorporated, individual membership was established, and an extensive survey was made of the Association’s operations. As a result of this survey a definitive handbook was published in 1951. A wealth of information was included covering such topics as race committee operations, conduct of interclub races, scoring and allowance tables for cruising boats, responsibility of judges and many other subjects.
By 1954 SM Sailing was twenty-five years old and could look back on an impressive record of growth and achievement. Since 1929 the number of member clubs had grown from five to twenty-eight. Crews from the Edgartown Yacht Club had won the Women’s National Championship for the Adams Trophy twice, crews from the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club had won the National Junior Championship for the Sears Cup six times, and crews from Beverly, Buzzards, and Stage Harbor Yacht Clubs had won the National Junior Championship once each.This made a total of nine Sears Cup wins, a better record than any other Association in the North American Yacht Racing Union. The growth of the Association, together with the continuing increase in sailing activity generally, has brought with it certain distinct problems. The arranging and running of the inter-club elimination and final races for the three national sailing championships has become more and more difficult. The pressure of local club schedules and the brevity of our nine-week sailing season together with the scarcity of adequate numbers of suitable one-design boats has at times threatened the very continuation of these series in our waters.The overall problem has been attacked in a three-fold manner. First, it has been stressed that these elimination series for the National Championships are of primary importance, both to the Association and to its member clubs, and must be accorded top priority in scheduling and holding. Second, it is essential that as many member clubs both compete in these series and assist in holding them as is possible. Third, steps have been taken to reduce the
administrative and physical burden of handling these series.The composition of the National District Championship Committee has been changed and strict control exercised over the number of crews entered and the number of days spent conducting the district eliminations and championships. Every effort is made to conform with the United States Yacht Racing Union regulations.
In 1955 the Association joined with the Maine Yacht Racing Association, the Yacht Racing Union of Massachusetts Bay, and the Narragansett Bay Yachting Association in forming the New England Yacht Racing Council.The Council is an over-all coordinating body for the four areas. One of its primary functions is to set up and oversee the Area “A” Semi-Final Series for the various National Trophies.The Council has also provided a useful sounding board where various ideas and problems of the four associations can be brought out and discussed. Most recently the Council through its members was able to provide much help and direction in the process of the reorganization of the North American Yacht Racing Union and the creation of the new national organization, the United States Yacht Racing Union. It became apparent by 1956 that, because of our heavy-short-season schedule, an annual meeting in the summer was no longer feasible. Accordingly the By-Laws were amended to hold the meeting in December of every year. Since the advent of the annual meeting-dinner, far better than a two-thirds representation of member clubs has been in attendance. More and more of our individual members have also taken advantage of these meetings to voice their opinions and to swap ideas. There has been phenomenal increase in yacht racing and related activity in the Association since 1965.The intense interest is reflected in the development of new fleets, the strengthening of established fleets and the marked growth of club and
individual members.We added two new championships in 1976—the Nash Trophy for the junior double-handed and the Jones Trophy for the junior singlehanded, and two in 1982—the Bigelow Trophy for the junior boardsailing and the Saltonstall Trophy for the women’s junior single-handed—bringing the total number of championship events to nine. Cruising boat racing has expanded with a series of races over the summer for IOR (Bliss Trophy) and various PHRF classes (Nelson, Linehan, Lincoln and the SM Sailing Family Trophies). Racing not only is ardent in all classes, but has also brought the Association some forty-four victories in the various Area A events since 1965, as well as two national
champions-Jim Hunt in the Mallory in 1965, and Ted Burt in the Prince of Wales in 1969. In no small measure the improvement we have seen is attributable to the junior sailing programs of our member clubs-especially with the introduction of the SM Sailing 420 in 1980.
By 1988 there were nineteen clubs sailing over 110 SM Sailing 420’s. Our Junior Yacht Racing Committee which has published handbooks, run an employment agency, established a widely recognized instructor’s workshop held late each spring, and an active junior team racing series, is largely responsible for guiding and encouraging our clubs as they educate our younger sailors. In 1987 we began publishing SM SAILING a sixteen page magazine twice yearly which is distributed to over 7,000 sailors who are members of SM Sailing member clubs. SM Sailing clubs have hosted three national championships-the Sears, Bemis and Smythe at New Bedford and the Prince of Wales at Edgartown in 1978, and the Mallory at Beverly in 1987. The St. Petersburg Trophy, awarded for excellence in race management by USYRU, was awarded to the Buzzards Bay Regatta (Beverly, New Bedford,Angelica, Buzzards, Low Tide, Mattapoisett and Wild Harbor) in 1982. The USYRU One-Design Leadership Award in recognition of individual initiative, enthusiasm, organizing ability and leadership in creating the SM Sailing 420 Fleet Program was awarded to Wesley H. Durant, Jr. in 1987. In 1989, the Hyannis Yacht Club hosted the US Sailing Youth Championship. In 1990, the International Optimist Class was introduced as the entry level youth training boat. Being an international class with strict Class rules and age limitations
afforded the young sailor the opportunity not only to compete locally but also on a national and international basis depending upon their individual qualifications and motivation. The class has grown to over three hundred boats in twenty three of our local sailing organizations. In 1994 Cindy Savery, chairwoman of the SM Sailing International Optimist Class, was elected to the board of the United States Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA).
In 1992, the first North American Club 420 championship was hosted by Hyannis Yacht Club with Robbie Richards of Falmouth Yacht Club the winner with some fifty crews competing from ten different sailing associations. In 1993,Tim Fallon and Sarah Adams,Wild Harbor Yacht Club,won the US Sailing Bemis Trophy, the first time a SMYRA crew has won a national championship since 1969. The Albert S. Bigelow Trophy was renamed the Albert S. Bigelow Junior Sportsmanship Award and was awarded to Tim Fallon. Andrew Buttner and Laura Stearns of Plymouth Yacht Club won the North American Club 420 Championship and qualified as members of the United States International 420 Team to compete in the International 420 World Championship in Plymouth, England. 1994 saw the Southern Massachusetts Yacht Racing Association change its name to the Southern Massachusetts Sailing Association (SMSA) along with amending its by-laws allowing all local sailing organizations to affiliate. In October, the Hyannis Yacht Club, chaired by J. David Crawford, hosted the Annual General Meeting of the United States Sailing Association with many fine social events as well as the first team racing championship between the US SAILING Inshore and Offshore Committees in Wianno Seniors.At the same time other US SAILING Committees competed in fleet racing in JY 15s. The Women’s Junior Doublehanded Championship was introduced hosted by the Wianno Yacht Club in Club 420s with forty young ladies competing.Tim Fallon and Sarah Adams, again teamed up to win the 1994 North American Club 420 Championship at Portland Yacht Club. Tim went on to compete in the 1995 International 420 Worlds in Sydney, Australia. Southern Massachusetts Sailing members continue to play a major role in US SAILING. Penelope S. Hare, Chapoquoit Yacht Club, served on the Women’s Sailing Championship (Adams), Junior Women’s Championship (Lieter), International
Women’s Keelboat Championship and Inshore Committees as well as chaired the US SAILINGWomen’s Sailing Committee and served on the Board of Directors. Katherine A. Leland, Falmouth Yacht Club, served on the Council of Sailing Associations and chaired the Site Selection Committee. John D. Osmond, III, Hyannis Yacht Club, has served as a vice president and Chairman of the General Services Committee while continuing to serve on the Offshore Committee and chair the IMS Owner’s Committee. Peter M. Durant, Wild Harbor Yacht Club, served on the Singlehanded Championship Committee (O’Day), serves on the Junior Sailing Championship Committee (Sears-Bemis-Smythe) and serves on the Board of Directors.Wesley H. Durant, Jr. ,Wild Harbor Yacht Club, serves on the Men’s Sailing Championship (Mallory) and Inshore Committees, chaired the Council of Sailing Associations and served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.
In 1996, Hyannis Yacht Club hosted the National Junior Championships (Sears-Bemis-Smythe). In 1996, SM Sailing was proud to also have several sailors campaigning for a berth on the US Olympic Team, including Tim Collins, Duxbury Yacht Club,Tyler Moore, Hyannis Yacht Club, Jane Kirk,Wild Harbor Yacht Club and John Fallon, Wild Harbor Yacht Club. Michael Zani, Falmouth Yacht Club, was named Development Coach of the Year for his work with the US Olympic 470 teams. November, 1996 saw the end of an era with the resignation of Wesley H. Durant, Jr. as Executive Director. Since 1960, Wes has been actively involved with SMYRA/SM Sailing. His many contributions include serving as representative from Wild Harbor Yacht Club, Secretary,Vice President and President of SM Sailing and introducing Team Racing and the Club 420.With John Linehan and John Tulis,Wes developed the Instructor Workshops which have become a model for the Level I and Level II Workshops for US SAILING and continues to be active as US Sailing Regional Training Coordinator. Much of the strength and success of SM Sailing over the years has been due to the untiring efforts of Wes Durant. In the fall of 1998, Hyannis Yacht Club received special recognition from US Sailing president James Muldoon for their success in hosting the 505 North American and World Championship in September 1998. Chatham Yacht Club received the US Sailing One-Design Regatta Award in 1999. It is given in recognition of excellence in development, promotion and management by the organizers and sponsors of 1999’s outstanding multi-class regional regatta. With the continuing help of our individual members and local sailing organizations and close cooperation with the New England Yacht Racing Council and US SAILING,we are confident that Southern Massachusetts Sailing Association (SMSA) will continue its most important function; promote sailing and racing in southern Massachusetts.