Thursday, February 25, 2010

Massapoag Yacht Club

Golden Gate Yacht Club may have been making the news last week because one of their obscenely rich members spent a few hundred million dollars to win a couple of races between a catamaran and a trimaran in Spain.
But guess which yacht club just won the US Sailing One-Design Yacht Club Award for "administrative excellence, fleet growth, creative programming, regatta support and member contribution at regional, national and international levels of the one-design."

Massapoag Yacht Club
in Sharon, Massachusetts.

What? Who? Where?

Regular readers of this blog may think they've never heard of Massapoag Yacht Club. But really you have.

I'm not a member of MYC but I have sailed on their lake, and participated in some of their races and one of their regattas in the last few years. It was MYC's Sunday racing that I described in Laser Sailing at Lake Whippersnappper, even though I used a nom-de-lac "Whippersnapper" rather than the real name of their lake, Massapoag. It is the home of the Saturday afternoon informal Laser racing I wrote about in Just Six Laser Dudes Racing Round a Sausage. And it is the place that I sailed in a Laser regatta on my 60th birthday weekend, recounted in Just One of Those Days.

So, although I'm not a member, I have a special affection for Massapoag Yacht Club. It's my kind of place. And I was very pleased to see that they received the recognition they deserve in winning the 2009 US Sailing One-Design Yacht Club Award.

What's so special about this club? I can't provide a better answer than to quote what US Sailing said...

• A small, all-volunteer club comprised of 70 member families, located in the shadow of Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.

• MYC hosted their 63rd annual regatta including Flying Scots, Day Sailors, Sunfish and Lasers.

• They organize five racing series’ during the year, including over 150 races over the course of the sailing season.

• The self-help spirit of the Club has allowed MYC to keep dues at a minimum while maintaining the ability to host several regattas a year.

• Their Flying Scot fleet is one of the largest in the country. They’ve crowned several National Champions. MYC has hosted the Flying Scot Nationals twice. A number of MYC members are represented as Officers in the Flying Scot Sailing Association.

• MYC hosted the “Area A” eliminations for the U.S. Men's and Women's Sailing Championships, and sent two boats to the Finals in 2009. A club member won the sportsmanship award.

• For nine years the MYC has hosted a Women Skippers Regatta to get more women at the helm position. They also host a singlehanded regatta, in which boats that normally have crew are raced single-handed to test the raw skills of the skippers and improve their understanding of the crew’s responsibilities.
Isn't that what it's all about? (Well, apart from that bit about the club being in the shadow of Gillette Stadium which isn't literally true unless the stadium casts a shadow over four miles long.)

All-volunteer club with low fees making the sport of sailing accessible. One design-racing in a variety of boats. Encouraging more women to participate in sailing. Pursuit of excellence in regatta organization and race management, running national championships and US Sailing Area Eliminations. Family atmosphere encouraging families to sail together and facilitating mentoring across generations.

Isn't this exactly the kind of solution that Nick Hayes is promoting in his books and talks about Saving Sailing? I think so.

Massapoag Yacht Club reminds me in many ways of the last club I belonged to in New Jersey, a club which shares many of these positive features, Hunterdon Sailing Club. People don't join a club like these ones to dine in the restaurant, or play tennis, or swim in the pool. (Mainly because they don't have restaurants, tennis courts or swimming pools.) It's all about the sailing.

So kudos to Massapoag Yacht Club for winning this prestigious award. And every success to all the clubs like them across the country (and the world) that are promoting and encouraging sailing at the grass-roots level. They are the future of our sport.


Joe said...

There is only one rich guy who belongs to the GGYC. The rest are plumbers, teachers, carpenters....working stiffs. The "obscenely wealthy" belong to the St. Francis Yacht Club. If Larry really wanted to tweak their noses, he would have joined the Mariposa Hunters Point Yacht Club.

Tillerman said...

Thanks for pointing that out Joe. My bad for badly phrasing that first sentence. I meant to say that there is one member of GGYC who happens to be obscenely wealthy who spent a lot of his money to win two races in Spain.

I will correct the original post.

I also apologize on your behalf to all the members of St. Francis Yacht Club before someone writes a comment about all the working stiffs at SFYC.

Baydog said...

I think the word "Yacht" leaves a bad taste in many peoples' mouths. There are probably as many blue as there are white collar sailors in these clubs. "Sailing Club" conveys
more of a down-to-earth feeling as they are all there to sail together and have fun. Massapoag sounds like a perfect model for a "Sailing Club". I love the native American name; my old "yacht" club's name is the Metedeconk River Yacht Club. The Lenni Lenape Indians inhabited the surrounding area of the river for centuries before the white man ever came. That to me is the perfect template for a truly original and humble club. Betsy Allison is probably our most recognized sailing figure, having been named Rolex "Yachtswoman of the Year" a few times, as well as
receiving many other honors. When we were young, she was just Betsy Gelenitis from up the street!

Tillerman said...

Great comments Baydog. I did write a post last year on Sailing Clubs and Yacht Clubs. It did attract some legitimate criticism as perpetuating "us and them bullshit" in our sport. I think there's room for both types of club but I do have a personal preference for low-key family-oriented all-volunteer clubs like MYC (which would be a "sailing club" as defined in my earlier post.")

Massapoag is, of course, a native American word. It's actually Algonquian for "Bad Place" - not at all appropriate.

O Docker said...

They could change the name to
'Whippersnapper Sailing Club'.

BTW, the St. Francis is usually abbreviated StFYC to distinguish from the San Francisco YC, whose modest little compound is, strangely enough, not in SF, but in the impoverished Marin County backwater of Tiburon.

If you're planning a visit to either, wear your blue blazer.

Carol Anne said...

So where is the Massapoag Yacht Club, and how does it compare to the Wampanoag?

EM said...

It sounds a lot like my sailing club...The New Castle Sailing Club in New Castle Delaware.

Dues are $300 a year and you can sail Thistles and Flying Scots. Members all chip in for work and there is no restaurant. Not hoity-toity at all.

Tillerman said...

Oh geeze. I don't think I will ever be able to show my face in San Francisco. FIrst of all I accidentally insult every member of GGYC by a bad choice of words. Then I confuse SFYC and StFYC.

Carol Anne, Massapoag YC is on the western shore of the lake in the picture on my post. It is in Sharon Massachusetts, about 20 miles or so south of Boston. I discovered it originally because one of my sons lives only a few miles away from it (hence the whippersnapper reference.)

Anonymous said...

These people beat Massapoag and my club, Maryland YC ( and others to the simple URL.

Manhattan YC looks pretty neat--I'm all for a floating club house.

Steve in Baltimore

Messing about said...

Good post TMan. I am staying well clear of the SF issue.

I feel the same about my club, Raritan yacht Club. It's very down to earth. Members come from all walks of life and outsiders are welcome to crew.

It also serves a role in the community as a base for the Sea Scouts and a place for local highschoolers to learn how to sail.

Despite this less high fallutin approach, one of our members,a retired teacher, has won his Div in the Newport to Bermuda 4 times as the race overall twice.

lsaeta said...

Glad to have found your blog. Any idea where I can find photos of sailboats to use as an inspiration for my oil paintings? I would really love any suggestions. Thanks.

Tillerman said...

lsaeta - a couple of suggestions as to where to find photos of sailboats as inspiration for your pointings.

Check out the blog of the previous commenter at
He frequently posts great photos of racing sailboats.

See also which is almost exclusively devoted to photos of sailboats in Rhode Island.

Carol Anne said...

Actually, I put in the comment about the Wampanoag because I had a Wampanoag student last term. The community college where I teach gives preferential tuition rates not just to people who live within its taxing district, but also Native Americans. This student's fiance works with Massachusetts State Parks, and they once sailed on Mya with Ted Kennedy.

tillerman said...

South-eastern Massachusetts was of course the home of the Wampanoag and so I assume that they fished in Lake Massapoag. By the way, I may have mis-stated the meaning of the word Massapoag. Most websites seem to say it means "great pond" or "great water".

Yarg Jr. said...

Massapoag is actuality a man made lake; it was originally a marsh. The lake is also stocked with bass (the only real edible fish in the lake), so I doubt the Wampanoag did much fishing there.

tillerman said...

Thanks Yarg Jr. I guess I shouldn't believe everything I read on the Internet such as...

Anonymous said...

The Massapoag Yacht Clup post is amazing confirmation that sometimes you have to see home through the eyes of visitors before you appreciate it. I have had a house in Sharon Mass where Lake Massapoag is located for 18 years. I attempted to race lasers here in the early 90's but I was the only one. We even tried PHRF! A single laser in a fleet of Flying Scotts is a lonely existence. I had moved away for 5 years have just returned from living in the Newport RI area.

Now that the veil of mythical clubs and golden lakes has been pulled aside revealing my home town, I am re-invigorated with enthusiasm to bring my laser back from its summer roost in Rhode Island and try again. Of course I hear rumours the sailing scene may pick up there again.....

Thank You Tillerman for re-introducing me to my own backyard.

Tillerman said...

Anonymous, there is indeed an active Laser scene at MYC. To my mind the most fun part of it is the relatively informal Saturday afternoon racing. Lots of short course races with nobody keeping score. I heard this week that this will be happening again this year. If you would like to email me (tillermeister at gmail dot com) I will pass on your name to the organizers and make sure you receive notification when this starts. You don't even need to be a member of MYC to participate in this; I'm not.

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