Sausalito Yacht Club – Part II

By Larry Clinton

Last week we recounted the beginnings of the Sausalito Yacht Club 75 years ago, as told in a book produced by club members in the 80s.  The following excerpt, updated by Jerry Tarpin, a member of the club’s Executive Board, tells the story of the design and construction of the clubhouse, and the formation of the junior sailing program, which remains a major focus of the club today.

Sections of the Yacht Club’s distinctive vaulted roof being lifted into place. Photo courtesy of Sausalito Yacht Club

Sections of the Yacht Club’s distinctive vaulted roof being lifted into place.
Photo courtesy of Sausalito Yacht Club

On Saturday, September 24, 1960, the formal ceremony and dedication of the new Sausalito Yacht Clubhouse took place. A triumph of many years effort, the project's completion definitely warranted a grand celebration for club members and the Women's Auxiliary who had donated an enormous amount of labor.

John Ford, Jr., a four-time successful defender of the San Francisco Bay Perpetual Challenge Trophy for the club, officiated at the ceremonies where more than 300 people attended the formal opening of the new home of the Sausalito Yacht Club.

Sausalito's former Mayor Phil Ehrlich, Jr. was the guest of honor, along with the Sausalito Council members, former Chief of Police, Howard Hoerndt and former Fire Chief, Matthew Perry.

The building's exterior, decorated in red, white and blue, reflected the colors of the club's burgee, which was raised and flown during the ceremony on a new signal pole that was presented to the club by one of its members, Neil Munro.

The structure features a molded vaulted roof and enveloping outside deck. The members were further gratified with the results of their efforts when the clubhouse won an award from Progressive Architecture, a prominent architectural journal.

A highlight of the clubhouse dedication ceremony was the presentation of a hand-rubbed ebony plaque, with a sterling silver plate engraved with the names of the seven men who had originally founded the club in 1942. Presenting the plaque were J. B. Ford, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Enzensperger, Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Hooper, the Mesdames Carl Finn, John E. Koenig, Roy Ashley, M. K. Densmore and Marian Stelling, parents of the founding members.

A 40-piece U.S. Coast Guard Band played for the dedication ceremony that was held on the deck of the clubhouse. Commodore Peter Fromhagen greeted visiting guests and Mrs. Fromhagen, President of the SYC Women's Auxiliary, presented the club with a bound volume of all copies of "The Squeegie-Weegie Gazette," its newsletter.

Following the formal proceedings, a champagne cocktail party was held as guests, including the commodores and wives of other yacht clubs, admired the new clubhouse.

In July of 1961, the yacht club made its official entry on the major racing circuit sponsoring a two-day regatta with the official blessing of the Yacht Racing Association.

The club's horizons broadened considerably with the completion of the new clubhouse. An enormous increase in the number of memberships included many sailors with boats meeting YRA qualifications. A fleet of more than 300 yachts marked the entry of the yacht club into the larger yacht circuit. In addition to its entry in the YRA and SYRA, the club is also a member of the Pacific Interclub Association and the U.S. Yacht Racing Union.

In the mid-fifties, the Sausalito Yacht Club initiated the Junior Sailing Program and began providing sailing and boating safety classes to youngsters age 12 and over. This program assured the membership that young people would not face the same difficulty as the club's founding members in pursuing their interest in racing and cruising.

Under the supervision of John Ward, Chairman of the Junior Sailing Program and instructor, youngsters began to learn the nomenclature of lines and nautical terms, splicing and whipping of ropes, rigging and tacks, reefing and mooring methods, safety procedures and how to pick up a person who has gone overboard. The club also agreed to co-sponsor an intensive course in sailing safety for youngsters with the Red Cross.

The Junior Sailing Program became such a success that the Pacific Interclub Association presented the Sausalito Yacht Club an award for the best youth program on the Bay in 1968.

By the end of the 1966 racing season, the Sausalito Yacht Club had 49 boats which "qualified" (raced in 5 different races designated by the Yacht Racing Association as championship races.) This was the largest turn-out ever, and put the SYC in third place among Bay yacht clubs.

In 1967, the club started off the new year by enacting a plan for major work to expand and improve the clubhouse. The work included adding on the new section, expanding the galley, rebuilding the storage area and improvements to the entrance hall. In addition, a new secretarial cabinet and serving station cabinet were added to the list of improvements.

The details of racing and crewing became a focus in 1969 when the Sausalito Yacht Club sponsored a series of racing seminars. In addition to a rundown of procedures, a guest speaker spoke at each meeting on subjects such as starting tactics, apparent wind and balance and sail handling.

As the club evolved from a small group of sailing enthusiasts to the prominent social and sporting group that it has become, the members have never lost sight of the value of how their voluntary efforts help the club to prosper.

Many work parties were scheduled and well-attended as the members made improvements to the clubhouse. These included paving the clubhouse parking lot, building a concrete wall, painting floats and gangway, installing new overhead lights, building a new float and installing a new charbroiler in the galley.

As the membership grew, the traditional fare of spaghetti dinners gave way to more sophisticated meals. By 1963, an increased number of members and their comparative degree of affluence (they were then in their early 40's) made it possible to employ a part-time staff for the bar and galley. At first, the galley only served hamburgers, but gradually the food improved with the desire for change by the members.

On September 23, the Sausalito Yacht Club will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a gala dinner dance.