SYC Memories


[Transcribed from a handwritten letter]
S.Y.C. Memories as Requested by Walter W. Frese
April 24, 1988
The first thing that I remember about S.Y.C. was when the Club burned down in 1913. I was only three years old at the time, but we lived near the Club and I remember seeing the sparks. In this fire, most of the fleet of 14-foot Redwing sloops which were stored on the lawn were destroyed. These boats were designed by my father and built by L.M.C.C. The original owners were: R. Jacobs, E.Y. Weber, Conrad Stein, Irving Raymond, John Jenkins, W. Whiton, Marion, Fraser, Barrett, Charles Bingham and E.I. Raymond. I have a picture of myself at a later date sailing one that partially survived and was rebuilt.
Around 1920 my father designed a 30-foot launch for S.Y.C. and built by L.M.C.C.  The story goes that one of his customers brought his large yacht to S.Y.C. and the launch was so obsolete that he ordered a new one and donated it to the Club. It was lost many years later in a hurricane when it came loose from its mooring and was dashed against the breakwater.  I then designed a new 30-foot launch built by L.M.C.C. and subscribed by members and the family of Mortimer L. Doolittle, in his memory.
In the late teens and early ‘30s the Club had a nice fleet of sloops called the Stamford One Designs.  They were gaff rigged about 30 feet long. The outstanding skipper was William F. Gillespie. They were designed by John Alden, so when then Club decided to compete in the highly competitive 6-Meter Class, they had John Alden design the boat called “S.Y.C.E.,” which stood for S.Y.C. Entrant, and W.F. Gillespie was chosen as helmsman. We called him “Smoky Bill,” for what reason I don’t   remember. Perhaps it referred to the smoky southwesters, which were winds that often occurred along with a smoke-like haze, often with him coming in the winner.
I also raced in the Six Meter Class, where we won Long Island Sound championships in 1926 with “White Hawk” and in 1930 with “Totem,” representing S.Y.C. Club members who crewed for me were B.W. Wenman, Jr., Davenport Lockwood, J.R. Swan and Russell Hall.

In the ‘20s several members had “R” sailboats, which were a little bit bigger than the 6-Meters, close to 40 feet long. The most active sailor was Walter Wheeler in his “Cotton Blossom.” He also had a “Q” Class boat about 45 feet long called “Cotton Blossom, and finally the 72-foot yawl “Cotton Blossom,” which won several Vineyard Race trophies. We did also with “Storm” in 1959 and in 1961. A Club member, George Hubbard, conceived the idea off the Vineyard Race. He had a rather ancient “R” Class boat called “Sally.” W.F. Gillespie had the newest “R” boat, “Live Yankee,” which was the fastest “R” boat ever built, when going to windward.  She was designed by L. Francis Herreshoff. I have a picture taken in 1931 when Mr. Gillespie lent me the boat to race for the Manhasset Cup.
Ernest Draper had a 10-Meter Class sloop which he raced in the Long Island Sound regattas.  The largest sailboat at S.Y.C. was a Class “N” sloop called “Alice,” owned by a Mr. Keeler, but he seldom if ever raced her. In the ‘20s the Club had a class of small catboats called “Flappers.”  I am not sure whether they were sloops or catboats.  They were about 16 feet long and raced mainly by Juniors.
In the ‘20s most of the regattas were held starting at Execution Rock, which is about 15 miles from Stamford. Because we had no tender for our 6-Meter, we had to leave early.  Sailing home after the race was usually helped by the late afternoon southerly, but not always.  Once we took a female guest with us and we were very late getting home, close to midnight, I think.  We had no facilities aboard except the bucket and ring buoy, which in those days would have been too embarrassing to use.  So, all hands had to wait until we got back to S.Y.C.  to relieve ourselves.
Arthur Bazagi was a Club member who raced in the regattas with his Victory Class sloop, which was a little smaller than a six meter.  We used to envy him because he had a small outboard which he attached to the stern when it was calm.
In later years, due to the efforts of Benjamin D. Gilbert, the Club had considerable success in the 5.5 Meter Class.  “Bingo” won a bronze medal in the 1964 Olympic Games, narrowly missing the gold medal.  His “Bingo II” won the U.S. championship in 1967.
At S.Y.C. tennis was always a major activity. In the ‘20s they conducted open collegiate tournaments and open junior tournaments, drawing the top talent of eastern players. Some fine exhibition matches were held.  Tilden played and S.Y.C. and, later on, Don Budge played Frank Rericha, who was our club pro and rated in the top ten pros at one time. The Club had some very good amateur players. Helen Pederson was a high-ranking player. Both she and Dorothy Andrus were good enough to play in the Wimbledon Championships in England.
P.S. In the Club attic there are pictures of the Stamford One Design, etc.

A.E. (Bill) Luders, Jr.