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Friday, September 18, 2015

BEDFORD'S BRILLIANT IDEA

Speranza

The Pequot Yacht Club came to be through the efforts of Frederick Bedford, in addition to Harold Lloyd, Johannes Schiott and Lawrence Craufurd.

The first meeting of Pequot Yacht Club was held in the Greens Farms home of Frederick Bedford on October 25, 1920.

These Founding Fathers, in addition to a group of five or six interested sailors, agreed to form a yacht club for the purpose of reviving and promoting competitive sailing.

In November 1920, a constitution and by-laws were drafted and ratified.

Subsequently, the Pequot yacht club, consisting of 33 members, elected officers.

Although the initial meeting took place in Greens Farms, the history of the Pequot Yacht Club is unquestionably rooted in the history of nearby Mill River on "South Port" (settled 1639) which had been deepened in 1916

The Pequot yacht club’s first officers were authorized in November 1920 to negotiate the lease for a building on the Mill River in South Port.

In April 1921, at the Pequot club’s next recorded meeting, the character of the club’s early years was established.

The racing calendar was the primary issue.

The Pequot yacht club’s first racing fleet consisted of
-- four “R” boats  (35 ft. sloops)
-- five “K” boats, and
-- one Star.

Over the years, the Pequot yacht lub has remained as much as its founders envisioned: an organization devoted simply to sailing.

By 1925 the original club house was becoming overcrowded, and by September 1926, a four-story warehouse building was converted into a two-story club house.

The Atlantic class came to the Club in the fall of 1928 when a demonstration boat handily beat its Star competition.

Twenty Atlantics were ordered immediately.

In 1929 the Pequot yacht lub ran the first Atlantic Class championship.

The Great Depression had a negative impact on the yacht club’s financial health.

Although the Second World War made yachting a matter of secondary importance on the Mill River in South Port, the Club's Atlantics continued the tradition of vigorous participation in class racing.

By 1949, Atlantic sailors from the Pequot yacht club had won the national championships for eight of the decade's years.

During the fifties and sixties, the sailing auxiliary slowly became the dominant boat at the Peequot yacht lub despite the continued vitality of class racing.

The auxiliaries were raced in various Pequot yacht club events, and also made their mark in events held outside of the Mill River in South Port.

Of particular note was Brigg Cunningham’s victory in the 1958 America’s Cup with Columbia.

In the seventies, the Pequot yacht club’s priorities were still to be sail boat racing with the seventies witnessing the consolidation of the cruising fleet as the pre-eminent Club fleet.

Activities were to be few, but well executed, supported by a small staff and a modest budget.

After 50 years, the Pequot yacht club’s purpose had remained the same as it had been when it began in 1920.

Membership issues, and an accompanying sense of the Pequot yacht club bursting at its seams, occupied the Board of Governors for much of the eighties.

The dominant racing scene at the Pequot yacht club during the eighties continued to be  the cruising fleet, but One-Design racing remained alive with a new fleet of Thistles, a class that had been absent from the club since 1959.

By 1990, participation in cruising fleet racing was declining precipitously, but this was countered by a resurgence of popularity of One-Design sailing in Thistles.

At the same time, recognizing the need to make sailing attractive to a membership pressed by time and family commitments, a search was begun to find a new One-Design class for the sailing program at the Club.

The search eventually led to the Ideal 18.

The success of PYC’s Ideal 18 program was recognized in 1993 by US Sailing, which noted the program's contribution to One-Design racing on Long Island Sound.

The Pequot yacht club continues to produce many entries in many sailing events in the region and around the world.

Cheers!

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