It's been a long time coming, but the Eastport Yacht Club's permanent roots have blossomed.
Club officials and friends conducted an informal ground-breaking ceremony recently to celebrate the acquisitionof financing for building and the start of construction of a new clubhouse on the Sycamore Point site on First Street in Eastport, near the mouth of Spa Creek.
"This is the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people," said Commodore Mark Murphy. "We hope to have construction actually under way as quickly as possible. The contractor has been talking about afive-month construction schedule, and new membership applications are starting to come in again after being stalled for a few months while we waited to see what would happen."
Murphy said the toughest decision, beyond the acquisition of the property and the examination ofmore than two dozen properties since 1985, was whether to ask club members to pay an additional assessment to cover construction costs, or to increase the size of the membership.
"We decided to grow," Murphy said. "We hope to have 450 voting members within three years. We're not planning to assess the membership or double the dues."
Annapolis architect Jeff Halpern and other members of his firm, Halpern Architects, have sweated through the process for a number of years, too, and are the designers of the new 4,400-square-foot clubhouse withlarge meeting room, pub, storage areas to provide support facilitiesfor both the club and its marina, a large deck with panoramic view of the mouth of Spa Creek, the Severn River and the Naval Academy, andaccess for the disabled.
The new building, to be built by NorwoodConstruction, will be functional, attractive, and a good reflection of the club itself, a unique organization in the area.
Envisioned as innovative and fun, EYC was at first seen as a kind of anti-establishment yacht club that from the first admitted women and minorities as well as active members of the marine community from all walks of life. It was founded in 1980 to promote the pleasures of sailing and boating, to develop and sustain interest in watercraft of all types, to sponsor sailing races, and to further enjoyment of yachting in Eastport and elsewhere.
It wasn't long before this congenial, but eclectic, group of diverse and interesting people had established a strong reputation for the club both on and off the water.
The EYC Solomons Island Race each summer, which draws upward of 200 boats each year and culminates in a day- and night-long party at Zahniser's SailingCenter in Solomons, is immensely popular. The biennial Annapolis to Bermuda Race, co-sponsored by EYC and its sister club in Bermuda, theSt. George's Dinghy & Sports Club, continues to grow with each sailing. The J/Jamboree, too, a unique event with one-design starts for J/Boats from the '22s up to the '35s, quickly has proven a popular regatta.
The club's Cruise Committee is also very active, with plannedevents, raftups and special presentations all year long.
Ashore, the annual Spring Cotillion, traditionally the Thursday prior to the start of either the Annapolis to Bermuda or the Annapolis to Newport,and the legendary Caribbean Night guaranteed to chase late-winter blues away, are popular bashes of the truly memorable, don't-miss variety, proving that EYC hosts are among some of the area's most convivial.
And who could overlook EYC's greatest gift of all to the sailing community and the region -- the annual Christmas Lights Parade of Lights. It's a moving and exciting spectacle on the waters of Spa Creek each December in which dozens of sail and power boats parade through the frigid night, brilliantly illuminated in the spirit of the season, and bringing joy and delight to all who see them.
We'll miss the view from the upper deck at the Annapolis City Marina building that has been a key feature of the club's current quarters since 1983, but we'll look forward to seeing the club and our old friends in theirnew location in a few months.
After successfully conquering his Chesapeake Bay area quarterfinal competition and smashing the other quarterfinalists from across the U.S. Yacht Racing Union's Area C in the semifinals, Annapolitan John Torgerson faced off against nine other semifinalists, one from each USYRU area or region, in the URYRU/Rolex Junior Sailing Championships Singlehanded Division for the Smythe Trophy.
The nine-race regatta, sailed in Europe dinghies at the Mentor Harbor Yachting Club in Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, outside ofCleveland on the waters of Lake Erie, concluded on Saturday, Aug. 24.
Victor overall for the top singlehanded honors was Texan Elizabeth Kratzig, 17, representing the Corpus Christi Yacht Club and USYRU Area F, with finishes of 2-1-3-3-1-1-1-3-4 for 18 points, with silvermedalist Brian Camet of the San Diego Yacht Club in Area J 4.25 points behind at 22.25 after finishes of 3-3-2-2-2-4-5-2-3.
With a score of 27.83, Torgerson came in third after a strong regatta in which he took two guns, two seconds and three fourths, and only once finished as low as fifth.
"It was a good regatta," Torgerson said. "It was really well-run. It was pretty windy, and there were really huge waves for a lake like that. They didn't send us out at all one day because it was so windy, and another day they couldn't send us out because of thunderstorms. But every day we went out there was always plenty of wind."
Gear failure in the eighth race earned him redress in the form of an average of points, but the points were those which theboat had earned, rather than those he had racked up himself in the regatta.
Each sailor used a different boat for each race to preventanyone's being stuck with a relative dog or being able to hog a superior piece of nautical equipment.
"I had a great start, and was moving really well," Torgerson said, "and then the mast step broke and I dropped back to seventh place. They gave me the average of the boat, which was 5.33 points. I had never done any worse than fifth, but even if they had given me my own average finishes, it still wouldn't have affected my placement."
The regatta was sailed in Europe dinghies, only recently introduced in the U.S. after being named the women's singlehanded vessel for the 1992 Olympic Games and very different in setup and handling from the more familiar Lasers in which Torgerson and many of the others already shine. Torgerson said that many of the contenders were unfamiliar with the little boats and those who didbest had the most experience with them.
Torgerson prepared for the regatta by practicing under the tutelage of Europe-class Olympic hopeful Diane Burton of Annapolis, who lent him one of her two boats and gave advice as the two practiced through many days and evenings.
"It seemed like it went along as whoever had the most experience in the boat would do the best," Torgerson said. "Elizabeth has a lot of experience, the most of any of us, and Brian Camet's sister is on theOlympic team in the class so you can assume he does, too, from that.All the work I did with Diane really helped me, too."
The sailor Torgerson was perhaps most worried about initially, recently calling him a "Laser god," Brett Davis of St. Petersburg, Fla., placed fourthin the series.
"It was a big battle from the beginning with the four of us," Torgerson said. "I won practically every start, but the races I did really well in I had probably the worst starts. The courses were pretty short, but more strategy and boat speed were involved than you would expect. Speed was totally the key."
Kratzig was the only young woman in the tough fleet, and is the only woman ever to have won the Smythe in its 18-year history. As a result of her win, shealso was named to the Rolex Team, one of junior sailing's most prestigious honors.
She agreed with Torgerson that her pre-regatta experience sailing Europes was a key to her success in the Smythe, and she now has launched an Olympic campaign aimed at earning a slot to compete in the 1992 Games in Barcelona in the Europe class.
Torgerson, a junior at Avon Old Farm School in Connecticut, will have to give up junior-level sailing in the face of turning 18, but plans to turn his attention to J/24 racing and adult Laser regattas such as the upcoming District 11 Championships in Havre de Grace -- a qualifier for the Worlds.
Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and has been racing on the bay for about five years.Her Sailing column appears every Wednesday and Sunday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.