How did we get where we are today?
Back in the late thirties, Dr. Jack E. Taylor and Dr. Glenn E. Thorpe, sailing friends, met on a regular basis for lunch at a restaurant overlooking Santa Monica Bay. As with all yachting types, the conversations during these lunches invariably turned to the subject of boats and boating. Before long, these men who jokingly called themselves the "End of the World Yacht Club", were joined by Boyd "Bud" Verplank and Stratford Enright. It was soon decided to form a "real" yacht club. There was a lively discussion, (a tradition which continues even today in yachting circles) regarding a name for the new club. Bud Verplankwas very partial to "Demerara" the name of the rum found in the chest used on our Treasure Cruise to this day. He was outvoted and the first official meeting ofSanta Monica Yacht Club was held on April 22, 1941. The four founding Members became officers, led by Commodore Jack Taylor. Charter Members were Dr. Jack Taylor, Dr. Glenn Thorpe, Bud Verplank, Stratford Enright, Richard and William Lewis, George Mauser and Gene Curry. It appears there was an immediate membership drive netting four new Members, Jack J. Smith, Paul Platt, Leonard Price and Harry McKinny Jr. Theburgee which proudly flies from our mast was designed by the Enrights. Some of these first Members raced Star class boats. One such race was Santa Monica to Point Dume, a beat to weather, sailed with the aid of a quart of rum and a bailing can, according to Strat Enright and Brownie Thorpe. SMYC was off and racing.
World War II did not stop SMYC. The first Annual Meeting was held at the Pirate's Den in Hollywood during a blackout. Many future meetings were held at the Enright's home in the Hollywood Hills and later in Newport Beach. In the early days, there were strong views as to Membership requirements. Do you believe, ownership of keel boats with a minimum lentth of 18 feet and no centerboards or powerboats admitted! Glenn Thorpe became Commodore in 1942 and in February 1942, SMYC was officially recognized as a member of the Southern California YachtingAssociation. The war ended and SMYC again had the freedom to race and cruise, doubling its activity. In the spring of 1947 arrangements were made with Flitz Brothers Landing in San Pedro for an SMYC anchorage.
This was a fun loving group and Club activities really increased during 1947 with the instigation of many events we still enjoy today. The Demerara Cup was donatedby Harry McKinney and Gene Curry. The Pig Trophy was perpetrated by Strat Enright and there is a long list of winners of the Trophy. The first Treasure Chest was built by Jack J. Smith. Note the list of winners of the pirates' booty under the lid of the chest at the next Treasure Cruise. Glenn Thorpe donated a perpetual trophy for the PC class. A new race, San Pedro to Santa Monica was instituted this same year. Not only were these folks out on the race course, but they were cruising to Catalina without benefit of engines, VHF, Loran and many of the devices we take for granted today.
SMYC needed a permanent headquartersand so on January 31,1946, work was started in San Pedro on the first Clubhouse, a do it yourself project by the Membership. Two weekends later a Clubhouse was ready for finishing touches and in short order, paint, furnishings, a flagpole and a dinghy ramp and float were completed. This building served as Clubhouse through 1952 when it was sold and activities were moved to the Santa Monica area. There continued to be a full schedule of activities with meetings being held in local restaurants.
In the sixties, Marina del Rey became the center for activities for SMYC, when most Members moved their boats to the new harbor. In 1969 negotiations were completed with Real Property Management and on July 18, 1970, the new SMYC Clubhouse on Mindanao Way, just down the road from our present location, was commissioned. In 1970, Darlene Plass was elected first Rag Dolls President (SeeRag Dolls History).
During the seventies, Membership increased and SMYC became a prominent and winning participant in Marina del Rey Race events. Women were invited to the race course with the advent of the Racy Ladies Regatta. An extremely active Juniors Program was the envy of the Yacht Clubs in the Marina. SMYC won several Christmas Boat Parades ...the social calendar was busy. There were even luaus with real pigs roasted in the ground at an empty lot, the site of our present SMYC parking lot.
In 1985 the Club formed a limited partnership to purchase the Baja Marina. This was accomplished and we all became partners in the SMYC Marina. In early 1986 ground was broken for the new Clubhouse. Since that dedication day in 1986, the Club has continued to function as something very special to all ofus. Everything has changed and yet nothing has changed. We are many more than eight Members as we were, but we still love boats, sailing and each other. SMWYC will continue over the years and one day someone will be reading a "history" which is our "today".
Written by Mary Herrschaft, former Rag Dolls President and Historian
July 18 is a very significant date in the history of our club. On July 18, 1970 the original Santa Monica Yacht Club building was commissioned. As good fortune would have it, on July 18, 1998, it was my honor to preside over the first of many meetings involving joining 2 great and proud Yacht Clubs, Santa Monica and Windjammers' Yacht Clubs. The issues were very great and involved, the negotiations were extremely involved but never acrimonious. I am proud to say after the fact, and after the successful negotiations, that serious and sincere issues were solved without raised voices or harsh words. Two committees worked together tirelessly, to join two great clubs to become what we are today - Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club. None of us could have done it alone. I can't mention all those who contributed, but at the risk of offending someone, I will mention those whose efforts were crucial to the success of the joining of the two clubs. They were David Lehman, WYC 97,98 "who originally suggested the program", Lynne Hammett, WYC 95 who provided so much information about WYC, and especially Warren Fox, whose negotiating skills were so vital to the culmination of this program. Finally it's so important to recognize Ron Offerman, SMYC 99 and Bob Hastings, WYC 99 for shepherding the proposal through to the final overwhelming votes to join. For my part, my greatest pleasure was participating in WYC's final Opening Day when the Commodores of both clubs were saluted for their efforts in consolidating the two clubs. That defined my watch as SMYC Commodore 98.