The Start of the Yacht Club (from the record of Duane S. “Casey” Cason)
In early spring of 1971 a small group of Island sailing enthusiasts organized the Hilton Head Sailing Club and in April of that year, in conjunction with the Savannah Yacht Club, held the first Harbour Town Regatta. The perpetual trophy for this annual spring ocean race was donated by Sea Pines Plantation Company.
In November of that year the HHSC was formally chartered and incorporated and became affiliated with the South Atlantic Yacht Racing Association (SAYRA), the regional organization of the United States Yacht Racing Union. Following incorporation, the original commodore, Robert G. (Bob) Scott, continued in office for 1972. During that year, in addition to the Harbour Town Cup Regatta, the first annual Calibogue Cup race was sailed in October under the auspices of the HHSC. This fall ocean race was limited to yachts from the three major yacht clubs of Charleston, the Savannah Yacht Club and HHSC. Two perpetual trophies, one for Class “A” and one for Class “B,” were donated by Bankers Trust of Hilton Head Island in 1974. Additionally, in 1972 the Club conducted an active schedule of racing and cruising events. The Olympic Class 470 sailing dinghy was selected as the club one-design class. A competition for design of the club burgee was won by Robert H. (Bob) Stafford who was club secretary at the time. The burgee was subsequently placed in Lloyd’s Registry in the 1975 edition.
Robert P. (Bob) McDuffie succeeded Commodore Scott for the 1973 term. During that year, Frank H. (Bud) Hall, Jr., club treasurer, donated the perpetual Calibogue Sound Trophy for the Class “B” yacht accumulating the best point score for a year’s racing. Exploratory planning and discussions concerning a future club facility and expansion of the club’s scope began. The 470 Class attained recognition as a nationally registered fleet of 10 boats and carried out a program of local and regional races, concurrent with the racing of the larger yachts.
Duane S. (Casey) Cason became commodore in 1974. Early that year the first John Biddle sailing film presentation was made through arrangements by William F. (Bill) Marscher. This became a well-attended annual event each ensuing February. The club emblem was designed by Commodore Cason and adopted in March. Various studies of locations and costs of future club facilities were developed and reviewed by the Board of Stewards, assisted by Kenneth M. (Ken) Whitehurst’s liaison activities with the Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 10-11 and a “Committee of Concerned Power Boatmen” who had expressed an interest in a yacht club organization and facility.
Because of Commodore Cason’s illness in June, 1974, Vice Commodore William N. (Bill) Cork acted as commodore until November of that year. During the year Bob Scott donated the John J. McAleese Trophy, to be awarded annually in memory of the late Dr. McAleese to the club member who had contributed the most to the sport of sailing on Hilton Head Island. The selection of club member was made by the Board of Stewards, based on nominations solicited from the membership. The first recipient of the award was Henry C. Haskell. It was subsequently awarded to Robert H. Stafford (1974), Howard I. Price, II (1975), jointly to Robert G. Scott and Michael L. M. Jordan (1976), Carl P. Helfrich (1977) and to Edward H. D. Gibbs in 1978. Also in 1974, the club newsletter, “The Mainsheet,” was instituted with Porter M. Thompson as the first editor.
Howard Price hoisted the commodore’s flag for 1975. That year saw a significant broadening of the club’s sponsorship of major sailing activities. Commodore Price initiated actions which led to the club sponsorship of the Lightning Class North American Championship Regatta in August and the Hobie Cat National Regatta in November, 1975. He also established contacts with the United States Quarter-Ton Yacht Racing Association which led to the selection of HHSC as the sponsoring club for this championship series in 1976. Also, during the year, Past Commodore McDuffie donated the perpetual Walter Coolidge Trophy in memory of the late Dr. Coolidge, for the most successful cruising yacht during the year. The membership approved changes in the club constitution and by-laws to afford full membership privileges to women.
Assuming the office of commodore in 1976, Mike Jordan vigorously pursued the club commitment for sponsorship of the Quarter-Ton North American Championship Regatta which was held in May, 1976. This was the first Quarter-Ton championship event ever held in the open ocean. It not only presented some new problems for lake and gulf skippers and crews, but also significant challenges to the HHSC in organization, race management and logistics involving more than 70 yachts. All were resolved in outstanding fashion by the members.
HHSC becomes “The Yacht Club of Hilton Head Island”
Commodore Thomas H. (Tom) Galbraith assumed office in 1977 and began the task of increasing the membership and stimulation of on-the-water activities. Most significantly, as membership increased, planning was reopened for the location and development of a club facility. Commodore Galbraith brought to fruition a major revision of the club constitution and by-laws, enabling the establishment of “The Yacht Club of Hilton Head Island” in October, 1977 and an immediate broadening of the membership to include power boat members.
In 1978, August (Gus) Wavpotich became commodore and pressed on actively with the increasingly detailed efforts necessary for the selection, acquisition and development of a site and clubhouse. Power boat participation in club activities was very gratifying and the established racing programs were all carried out successfully. In March, under Bill Cork’s leadership, a fleet of scale model, radio-controlled 12-Meter sailing yachts was established and an enthusiastic group of about a dozen raced their boats on the lagoon adjacent to the Plantation Club.
Birth of the Clubhouse
Gus Wavpotich was re-elected commodore for the year 1979. Under his leadership the membership came forward with the funds necessary for the purchase of one acre of land adjacent to the Palmetto Bay Marina and for an option on an additional acre.
On January 31, 1979 a charter was granted for Flying Scot Fleet No. 134. The racing program, spelled out in detail at the beginning of each year, consisted of a Winter (Frostbite), Spring, Summer and Fall Series. In June of 1979 the club hosted an Invitational Ocean Racer Regatta, with yachts coming from up and down the southeast coast. Twenty-six-mile Olympic triangles were laid out to the southeast of Hilton Head Island.
“We don’t expect to be a Newport overnight, but this is the way these things get started,” commented Commodore Wavpotich.
(Taken from Islander magazine July 1979)
Commodore Thomas H. Galbraith assumed office in 1977. Planning for the location and development of a Club facility continued. Commodore Galbraith brought to fruition a major revision in the Club Constitution and By Laws, enabling the evolution of the Hilton Head Sailing Club into the Yacht Club of Hilton Head Island in October, 1977. The change of the corporate structure of the Club immediately provided for the broadening of the Club membership base by the addition of many power boat members. The Club continued to grow rapidly during the year as did participation in various ocean and cruising activities.
The Yacht Club began 1978 with more than 150 members. The new Commodore, Augustus (Gus) Wavpotich, pressed on actively with the increasing efforts necessary for the selection, acquisition and development of a Club facility site. Efforts were begun to encourage power boat participation in Club activities. A varied program of ocean racing and small powerboat sailing was carried on. In March, under Bill Cork’s leadership, a fleet of scale model radio controlled Twelve Meter sailing yachts was established and an enthusiastic program of weekly racing began. The prospects of a Club facility were finalized with the selection of a location at the Palmetto Bay Marina.
Commodore Wavpotich was reelected Commodore for 1979 so that he could continue the important work of establishing the Club facility. The Club By Laws were amended so as to enable the Club to purchase and build its permanent facility. The initial acre of land for the Club building was acquired by the Yacht Club and construction plans were formulated for the commencement of construction during 1980.
John F. Curry became Commodore for 1980. The year proved to be a very busy one with active racing schedules for all classes of yachts, to include the 12-meter fleet. Moreover, the year was a significant milestone for the Club in that construction on the new Club facility began early in the year and was completed in December, 1980. Much effort on the part of many Club members was given to the completion of the interior, furnishings and decoration.
1981 saw Grant Morehouse take the helm as Commodore. Much member work remained to be done on the new Club building, to include landscaping and various interior installations. Rear Commodore Art Swenson led the interior work activities, to include the design, installation and donation of the entry tile floor, displaying the Club burgee in large scale. Vice Commodore Ed Gibbs supervised the installation of landscaping. By year’s end, the new building had served well for meetings, parties, and weekend social gatherings.
Concurrently, activities afloat included outstanding participation in the Frost-Bite Spring and Fall race series, the establishment of both J-24 and Flying Scot fleets in the Club and the model 12-meter Southern Divisional Regatta held on the island in the late spring. The yacht,Emily Morgan, skippered by Henry Haskell, made a three-year clean sweep of the Port Royal Ocean Racing Association race series, winning permanent possession of the PROF Trophy. Subsequently, the Club membership was deeply saddened by Henry’s death in late April at age 83.
After three years as race committee chairman and one as Vice Commodore, Ed Gibbs was named Commodore in 1982. The year was characterized by sharp competition within the Flying Scot and J-24 fleets, the inauguration of an all-island sailboat race, and an active full-moon raft-up program. Additional improvements were made to the clubhouse, particularly with the construction by members of the lower deck area. While remaining primarily oriented toward sailboat racing and other on-the-water activities, the Club also took on a larger social dimension. Friday evenings found a growing number of members gathering for “happy hour” and a program of Sunday suppers became quite popular as well. Commodore Gibbs’ crowning achievement was the rigging and erection of a very handsome flagmast opposite the main entrance to the clubhouse.
Thomas H. (Tom) Galbraith was elected Commodore in 1983 for the second time, having previously held office in 1977. The initiation fee was analyzed early in the year and changed to a figure that was more realistic than it had been. The membership committee, chaired by immediate Past Commodore Ed Gibbs, pursued prospective members aggressively, and by the end of the year membership had increased nearly forty percent. Meanwhile, our racing and social programs (the latter under the leadership of Joe Klingensmith) moved ahead smartly, providing activity of one sort or another for the entire membership. Planning for the clubhouse improvement continued, and positive action was taken to give women a more active voice in Club activities by making either spouse of a member-family eligible for membership on the Board of Stewards.
Harry Billica succeeded Tom Galbraith as Commodore for 1984, and continued along the path of building the Club membership and expanding it’s activities. An active club race schedule was conducted along with the annual SAYRA events, all under the able direction of Bob Chapman. Lew Gunn continued to dominate the J-24 class against stiff competition, and Jim Vaughn, Tom Caldwell, and Jim Harkins were mainstays of the Flying Scot fleet. Ashore the galley improvement project at the clubhouse came to fruition, doubling in size our food preparation area and adding various essential items of equipment. It could now support handily the Club’s Sunday evening dinners and large catered events. Under the able direction of social chairmen Darlene and Dean Minford, a well attended program of Sunday evening dinners was established and, for the first time, the Annual Change of Watch banquet was held at the Club. In addition, extensive landscaping activity was initiated by Commodore Billica, enhancing the exterior appearance of the clubhouse. The Club’s interior decor was greatly improved and the acoustics were also improved by carpeting the floor. Finally, the Commodore established, under the chairmanship of Vice Commodore Jack Mingay, a long-range plans committee which proceeded to generate plans for extensive clubhouse enlargement in the 1980’s.
In 1985 under the able leadership of Commodore Jack Mingay, the Club continued to pursue congenial social activities and an active race schedule. Increased interest was developed in the regular Sunday evening and special “theme” dinners, all under the dedicated direction of social co-chairmen Betty and Bill Ridenhour. Racing came under the purview of race chairman Bob Chapman for the second straight year and featured the J-24 State Championship Regatta in March and an all-island regatta in September in addition to the regular club series and inter-club SAYRA events. Thirty-one boats participated in the all-island regatta, which was organized by Vice Commodore Dick Sabin and co-sponsored by CQ’s, Sea Pines Plantation Company and the Club and promised to become an annual event. The establishment of a sailing class for juniors under the direction of DeeAnne Wagner was a very significant addition to the Club’s activities. One of the principle objectives of the Club should be to draw youngsters into the world of boating and DeeAnne’s efforts represent a major step in that direction.
Presided over by Commodore Dick Sabin, 1986 was marked by continued growth both afloat and ashore. J-24 sailors displayed their disdain for weather by sailing the State Championship series at the end of February but finally had to admit that sometimes the weather becomes too severe even for them. Despite a couple of race cancellations, however, the series was raced and won by a crew from the University of Connecticut, no less. Later, in March, the First Annual Springfest Regatta was held. Seventeen boats participated and Lew Gunn and Dick Wagner took top honors in their respective classes. A particular highlight of the year was the excellent performance of three of our juniors — Polk Wagner, Trey Gillham, and Zack Wagner — in the Sears Cup eliminations. They represented SAYRA in the semi-finals at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in July and, against very tough competition, finished third. The Club is justly proud of them.
Dick Brockway took the helm as Commodore for 1987 and led the Club through a full schedule of both racing and social activities. Peter Gamble and Lew Gunn dominated the spring racing scene with victories in the Geechee Sailing Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Regatta and the Harbour Town Cup Regatta. The Club ran its annual spring and fall series for both J-24’s and Flying Scots, and in September sponsored an open Sailfestin which some 28 boats participated. The Calibogue Cup race was held in October, and in November we hosted the State J-24 Championships once again, this time with eight boats sailing in five races over two days. To promote future sailing activities and membership, the club again held the junior sailing school program, with DeeAnne Wagner in charge.
Ashore, the clubhouse interior took on a much smarter appearance as a number of member’s donated their time and means in its behalf. Several casual chairs and tables enhanced the lounge, a coffee table graced the TV area, glass racks were hung over the bar, and the ship’s wheel was mounted attractively in the foyer. On the food front, students in the University of South Carolina cooking program began using our kitchen for their class and, in return, prepared the Sunday night dinners. Menus ran from pot roast to chicken Kiev and earned high praise from attending members.
1988, with Bill Ridenhour at the helm, was a year of renewed effort to increase the Club’s activities both ashore and afloat and improve its membership and financial situations. Significant success was achieved on each front.
Highlights of the racing year were the sailing of the Harbour Town Cup Regatta in May, the annual All-Island Regatta in September, the Calibogue Cup Regatta in October, and the State J-24 Championship in November. In addition, the usual club Flying Scot series was run, thus providing ample opportunity for the racers to do their thing. Club sailors also participated in events sponsored by SAYRA which held its annual meeting at the Mariners Inn in January once again. In earlier years SAYRA met at a variety of locales, but apparently its members have found the hospitality and facilities of HHI to their liking, for they have met here for the past several years. The Club held its traditional reception for the SAYRA delegates. Other clubhouse activities included the regular Sunday suppers and were expanded to include an occasional bingo night and weekly bridge games. On the membership front, a number of new members have signed on, and some long-standing but inactive members resigned. Thus while the actual membership remained fairly steady, there was a gain in active members. Also related to membership, an early bond-redemption program was introduced which, along with other measures adopted by the treasurer Frank Soule, helped to improve the Club’s financial condition.
In 1989 Charles S. Hill waxed eloquent as Commodore. Special events for 1989 were the hosting of the Flying Scot State Championships, the 4th annual Sailfest All Island Regatta, the beginning of a summer “Beer Can” series of dinghy races and the continuation of the Harbour Town Cup and the Calibogue Cup annual events. Also 1989 will be remembered for Hurricane Hugo which upset many boating plans.
For events ashore, the Club continued its association with the University of South Carolina cooking school which provided wonderful Sunday dinner fare all year.
The 1990 was a banner year for the Club under the leadership of Commodore Jim Vaughn. An aggressive membership campaign was launched resulting in the addition of approximately forty new members, a good portion of them young sailors.
Sailing activity regained its prominence and the club purchased four JY-15 sailboats and started a new fleet. These boats joined the Flying Scots and the J-24’s as part of the regular racing activity. The Club hosted the JY-15 Nationals in the spring of 1990. The summer series of Beer Can races was on Thursday afternoon using the JY-15’s and the participation was enthusiastic and competitive. On the large boat schedule was the Harbor Town Cup, Calibogue Cup, a spring Sailfest and a fall All Island Regatta. The Calibogue Cup saw 30 boats on the starting line for the first time in many years.
Socially, a TGIF happy hour was emphasized and with excellent snacks by steward Ron Jones soon became a major weekly function. The Sunday night dinners continued to be well attended and a number of other parties both after race and theme, were held during the year. With the increase in membership and the increase in the number of older members attending the club functions it was decided to expand the club facilities. Julie Vaughn drew up the preliminary sketches and the expansion was approved by the general membership and will be accomplished during 1991.
The year 1990 may be summed up as the year that Jim Vaughn rekindled a spark in the Club and the membership caught fire.
William B. Walker was elected Commodore for 1991 and guided the Club through a very active and memorable year. The major event was the addition to the clubhouse which provided the “best view on the Island for cocktails”. In addition to the tremendous vies the expansion also allowed more room for functions within the facility as punctuated by the return of the Change of Watch Dinner to the clubhouse. The TGIF night socials continued to gain popularity with the new bar arrangement and the Sunday night dinners were well attended.
On the racing scene the Club hosted five PHRF races (Harbour Town Cup, McIntosh Cup, Sailfest 91, the All Island Regatta, and The Old Sailors Regatta). The Club also was host club and co-sponsor for the 1991 SAYRA Offshore Championships.
The club series races were active with 30 races held for the Flying Scots, JY-15’s and J-24’s. The summer beer can races using the JY-15’s continued to grow in popularity and have become a major summer function of the Club.
Membership continued to grow during 1991 with a roster of 161 at the end of the year.
Thomas G. Henz was elected Commodore for 1992. This was a year for capitalizing on the strengths of the Club’s history and amenities. Fifty-five new memberships were approved during the year which enhanced an already active racing and social calendar. The year’s racing schedule included the first JY-15 annual series, the thirteenth Flying Scot annual series, the fifth Sailfest, the sixth All Island Regatta, the twenty-second Calibogue Cup and the twenty-third Harbour Town Cup.
Social functions combined the traditional parties with tradition-making parties including Derby Day, The Yacht Tour, Fourth of July Old Fashioned Barbecue, Labor Day Splash and Pumpkin Carving Contest. The Club hours of operation were also expanded to five days per week to accommodate the growing membership.
Thomas Z. Crews took over the helm as Commodore for 1993 with an expanded and changing membership and immediately set goals to improve the food and beverage operations to make them become a profitable operation of the Club. Goals also were set to improve the deck and yard operations. These goals were met and other ideas were fostered to enhance these two financial components of the Club.
Another important effort for the year was a very successful and well attended New Sailor’s program. The Club’s JY-15 fleet was slowed down somewhat by damage to three of the four hulls from the March storm dubbed The Storm of the Century. With the help of our insurance coverage, new replacement hulls put the fleet back in full swing by late summer.
A wonderful highlight of the year was an outstanding running of the All Island Regatta on a perfect September day with a record 37 boats entered. From social to sailing activity, the Club was clearly alive and well and ready to carry on with a great and involved membership.
In 1994 Randy Till became Commodore and continued the work Tom Crews had begun in responding to the needs of a changing membership. Eliminating a budget deficit was a major goal for the year and that goal was met, while at the same time maintaining a very active boating and social schedule.
The Club’s signature regattas, the Harbour Town and Calibogue Cups, were successes, and the All Island Regatta and JY-15 Invitational rivaled their more senior events in popularity. Club racing continued to be active with the JY and Flying Scot fleets racing through the year. The New Sailor’s Program had another successful year and Thursday night beer can races were as popular as ever. Finally, a new intra yacht club series was started for both the JY-15 fleet and the PHRF sailors.
Social events at the Club were as plentiful as ever with events such as the Christmas party, Derby Day and the Luau. Additionally the Friday night Happy Hour continued to be a popular function. The Christmas party additionally served as the delivery point for gifts as the Club adopted a family of four for Christmas; an undertaking of which the whole Club can be proud.
Several well attended clean-up days helped not only to spruce up the clubhouse and its exterior, but also to point out the best part of our Club: the members who enjoy their Club and enjoy working with one another to keep it great.
1995 can best be characterized as a year of change for the Club. Susan McCann became the 23rd Commodore and the first woman to take the helm. Susan and the Bridge set major goals to improve the food and beverage operation, the clubhouse and grounds; to increase membership, and to improve the financial standing of the Club. Significant progress was achieved on all items.
Jack Hurst was brought on board as Club Steward. His talent in the kitchen combined with his personality created a winning combination that resulted in the food and beverage operation showing the best results ever.
A membership drive and an active social calendar resulted in 22 new members who enjoyed such parties as the Derby Day, 4th of July, Octoberfest and a luau. The TGIF, with improved gourmet hors d’oeuvres, continued to be a popular event.
The Club hosted five major regattas in addition to a regular Club race schedule. The Thursday night Beer Can races had a resurgence of popularity drawing both introductory level and experienced sailors. With the Olympics scheduled in 1996, attention to race management was very strong. A number of members volunteered for the Olympic program and were very active in training to work the games.
To summarize, whether your interests were in social activities or racing, 1995 was a banner year for our Club.
1996 was an exciting year at the Club. The Olympics were hosted in Atlanta and the sailing venue was in Savannah. A large group of members volunteered to serve in the Olympic sailing and other events leading up to the games.
With Charles Fraser as Commodore, the Club co-hosted two events prior to the Olympics — the Sea Pines Spring Regatta and the Mumm’s Beach Regatta. Numerous Olympic sailors participated in these regattas, some of whom went on to medal in the Olympics.
On the home front, a new steward was brought on board and the Board of Stewards instituted a new accounting System to get a better grasp on the accounting and work on the long range planning of the Club.
1996 also was notable for the super social functions. Along with the usual Harbour Town and Calibogue Cup Regatta parties were several Olympic parties and a number of highly successful theme parties. From a social aspect 1996 was one of the Club’s most active and successful years.
Larry Jordan was elected Commodore for 1997. This year we tried to channel the great volunteer effort developed by our members for the Olympics, back into the Club. The hands-on participation of our members time and time again helped the Club in every aspect of its function, especially in the food and beverage department where we kept the Club open for business despite not having a steward for several months.
Many improvements to the clubhouse and grounds were made by the generosity and hard work of members. Obtaining new members was made a priority and over twenty new memberships brought an influx of new families composed of old salts to newborns.
On the fun side of the year we had a long list of our now traditional parties plus several new theme parties. All were well attended; a successful thanks-again to the high level of membership participation. Sailors, power boaters, and non-boaters all helped the broad-based Social Committee and Race Committee put on great events.
This would have to be remembered as a year that the members, new and old alike, took great pride in working to help their Club.
In 1998 John Safay became Commodore. He and his wife Judy had been active in the Club for some time and together they brought a great deal of energy to Club events. Early in the year emphases was placed on developing a budget and an accurate financial Forecast which was monitored monthly. Many ongoing expenses were either cut or eliminated and the Club enjoyed a year of relatively smooth cash management.
All regattas were well attended with the Harbour Town Cup being standout due to fine weather and an excellent job by club members officiating. The Club also was treated to a series of talks by members relating extraordinary cruising adventures. 1998 was also the year that saw a surge in popularity of the Thursday Nite Beer Can Races with both old and new members enthusiastically participating.
The increased quality and uniqueness of social events and food services was reflected in the number of members attending Friday night TGIF parties. It was not uncommon for the Club to be “packed” with members and guests.
Standout events included a Christmas party with live entertainment, a Valentine’s dinner and theater night, building a parade float and for the first time participating in the town’s St. Patrick’s Day events. A large turnout for the Derby Day party, chartering a boat to view the fireworks of the 4th of July and providing live entertainment for the regatta parties all helped to make 1998 a fun year.
1998 also saw the Yacht Club hire it’s first professional chef, Chuck Vurgaropolos, as steward. Chuck’s innovative menu selections and professional presentation also raised the bar on what is expected out of the club kitchen
Toward the end of the year the Club’s air conditioning was substantially upgraded and the exterior of the building was repainted during an exceptionally well-attended clean-up day. The vigor and enthusiasm of the newer members along with the leadership of long-time volunteers in key positions made 1998 yet another fine year for the Club.
The 1999 bridge year was issued in by the club participating in Hilton Head Island’s first ever world championship sailing event, the Mumm 30 Worlds. Although sponsored by another club, YCHHI members participated on all levels of organization and execution. Member Bill Adams served as PRO for the event and the largest portion of his race committee participants were YCHHI members. This event helped cement Hilton Head as a premier sailing venue and the Yacht Club of Hilton Head Island as the best club for race committee in our region.
Jim Vaughn reprised his role as Commodore, filling a vacant bridge position and agreeing to continue on to help with continuity. However, a low point in club history was reached when steward Chuck left town to pursue other interests and Jim and a mostly volunteer crew arranged to keep the club open for all meals while the hunt was on for a new steward. The era of the “cooking commodore” was way too long! Thankfully, before membership suffered, our new steward, Scott Malouche, took over and relieved the volunteers. And what a relief it was! With his many talents and his exceptional personality, Scott brought joy to all the members, especially the volunteer cooks.
Don Robbins became the Commodore for the New Millennium and was determined that he would put the Club on a firm financial footing in Year 2000. We substantially refined our accounting system to improve visibility of cost sources, and closely watched our expenses; consequently the Club’s financial position was significantly improved by the end of the year. Our Club Steward, Scott Melouche, continued running our food and beverage operation like a successful business. This was greatly appreciated by everyone, especially the Commodore, who could spend his time managing the Club without having to cook too. Scott initiated a Sunday Brunch menu which was well received.
The social programs in Y2K provided the membership with numerous opportunities for fun and fellowship. We had a Toga Party, a Valentine’s Party, and a Mardi Gras Party in the beginning of the year. The Club built a pirate’s ship float for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and we had a party afterward. The Derby Day event was a huge success as well as a Casino Nite party in the fall. This year, we had a special July 4th party, complete with a Pig Roast and followed by a boat trip to view the fire works. The pig roast was so well received that we did it again for a Luau Party. Rounding out these many events were several Oyster Roasts held at the Club.
The Club’s yacht racing program was well organized and very successful races included the Harbour Town Cup and the Calibogue Cup, which received a corporate sponsorship. Our other races included Sailfest, June Bug, and the All-Island Regatta which all were very professionally run. The Beer Can races were held each week during the season and the Flying Scotts competed with a Spring and Fall season. This year saw the start of the long-delayed major rehab of our second Flying Scott. After weeks of hard, dirty work by our Commodore and some help from others (like Joah Etchells who did the painting), our “like new” Scott was almost ready for her maiden voyage by the end of the year.
The Club continued in Y2K to be very fortunate in having so many volunteers that worked diligently in maintaining our facilities. Repairs to the kitchen, regular pool and grounds maintenance, as well as scheduled Club cleanups saved the Club a considerable amount of money. In order to recognize the efforts of these members, we created the Volunteer of the Month which highlights their contributions and rewards them with a Sunday Night dinner.
With Kevin McMahon as commodore, 2002 proved to be a successful year in all categories. We continued to refine our accounting system thanks to several members with both the necessary background and energy to devote to the Club, and maintained tight financial control with the oversight of an active and proficient financial committee. Scott Malouche completed his third full year as steward, and working with John Fraser, provided another year of quality offerings on Fridays as well as special events, while maintaining efficient control of the food and beverage budget. Recognizing the need for a growing membership to make possible establishing a fund for major capital expenses and repairs, the commodore vigorously promoted an aggressive membership drive. Under the guidance of our membership chair, Hugh O’Conner, we attained a membership of over 120 by the end of the year, enabling us to establish a much needed capital fund, using new member initiation fees.
We placed special emphasis on member involvement in preparing for and participating in events and projects in 2002, with gratifying results. The Nauti Ladies group under Connie Walsh coordinated the planning and decorating for an active social program, adding new events such as Evening in Paris to traditional ones like Derby Day, the Independence Day celebration and the oyster roasts. The racing program, co-chaired by Tom Hoots and Tom Caldwell, was active throughout the year, with the spring and fall Flying Scot series, the big four regattas, and the weekly Beer Can Races with the JY-15 fleet which had been brought up to almost new condition by Tim Crowley. After several dormant years a cruising program was initiated, and after Jim Landis took charge the season ended with a well attended cruise to Defauskie Island and Marshside Mama’s.
The yard, grounds, and building, inside and out, were looking absolutely beautiful after more than a year of major sweat-equity input by most of the membership. Our yard-squatter, after several years of legal acquisition attempts succeeded, went “under the knife” of members wielding chain saws and sledge hammers, and in one Saturday found itself in a large dumpster, with only its engine bringing in a few dollars. With Larry Jordan controlling yard use, we now have a large parking area as well as efficient short-term boat occupancy. Ken Priegel sparked us into finally drying up our “marsh” — the Club is now an integral part of the city sewer system, an important capital improvement this year. Thanks to Bob Thomas and Bill Nicol the grounds and gardens were beautiful all year. Cameron Henderson took charge of a major rehab of the Club’s front entrance, replacing rotted wood and rebuilding much of the adjacent structure. On the inside, much repainting by several members, and with replacement of carpeting in the bar area, the Club interior is in tip-top shape.
At the close of 2002 we initiated a new award to recognize long faithful volunteer service to the yacht club. The first Mainstay awards were presented to James Vaughn, John Fraser, and Bob Thomas.
In 2003, Judy Safay became the second woman Commodore in the Club’s history. During the year major improvements were made to enhance the Club’s appearance. The kitchen floor was entirely tiled and new counter tops installed to bring the kitchen to code. The men’s room received new counter tops. Closets and cabinets were built in different areas to handle storage problems. The biggest job was to take down the entire burgee collection in the main room. They were repaired, ironed and rehung. At the same time the room was repainted.
Food and Beverage continued to be a great success with Scott Malouche as Club Steward. TGIF dinners were always crowded with Club members and their guests. Social parties had as many one hundred in attendance. Some of the more memorable ones were The New Members Party, The Valentines Party, and the August boat ride on Sonny Compher’s Island Queen. The Club’s traditional parties: Christmas, Derby Day, and the Henz’s annual Luau remained popular and well attended
The Club’s racing program continued with newer members volunteering on the water or back at the Club to make sure each race was a success. The Beer Can Races were held each week. Club members worked hard maintaining the Club fleet and keeping our boat yard clean Former Commodore Etchells was featured in Hilton Head Monthly magazine regarding sailing and racing. The Commodore and Chris Maxim were guests on a TV talk show promoting The Calibogue Cup and virtues of the YCHHI.
The Finance Committee kept our Club firmly grounded. Club insurande increased and the cost of removing dead trees cut deeply into our budget. That withstanding, we are still in good financial shape. We saved a considerable amount of money this year and every year by members volunteering. We save the cost of pool maintenance, yard work, painting heavy cleanup, etc.
With the hard work of the Board of Stewards and the womens group, The Nauti Ladies, it was a productive year.
In 2004 Dennis Foley became Commodore with installation at the November Change of Watch dinner. The year continued the tradition of a Holiday Party attended by over 90 members and entertainment provided by Pat Foley, and Armand Demille (aka Elvis), with the role of singing Santa ably filled by Bobby Thomas. January saw the start of a very active sailing program under the direction of Tom Hoots. 30 members attended a 6 hour sail racing program and discussed the various aspects of the 2004 season. The Nauti ladies hosted a Valentines Dinner Dance attended by nearly 50, and Friday night dinners continued to be very successful with average attendance of 55. The club again participated in the Hilton Head Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, and followed by the traditional Corned beef and cabbage dinner at the club. Dave and Sarah Shkor, along with Betty Bush combined their talents to celebrate the Kentucky Derby; the mint juleps and festivities made it an event to remember. An Evening in Venice was hosted by Joni Drayton, and provided an International Social event to our schedule. The annual 4th of July celebration was engineered by Susie and Kenny Priegel and was a great success, and we were all home by 7 to watch the fireworks. Mary Ann and Sonny Compher again hosted a fireworks cruise in August. Tom and Sue Henz hosted our annual Luau with great help from Jim and Julie Vaughn; we successfully from globe trotted the South Sea Islands, and had a great time doing it. October hosted the 2nd Annual Talent Show, coordinated by Carol Jordan and Pat Foley. The 24 acts provided a night of surprises and fun for both the participants and audience. We can only hope that this venture will continue for years to come.
The sail program included 2004 Sailfest, the Harbour Town Cup sponsored by the Quarterdeck Restaurant, the Calibogue Cup sponsored by Sun Trust Bank and the All Island Regatta. The Thursday night Beer Can Races continued to be a success and the Flying Scott Spring and Fall Series saw so fierce contests. All in all the club continues to support of Island Sailing and Racing.
Ruth Thomas became the editor of the MainSheet and managed to improve the overall quality of our newspaper, while reducing its overall cost. The Club WebSite www.yachtclubhh.org under the direction of Diane Faucette, had over 10,000 queries this past year. Thanks to efforts of Mary Ann Compher, John Fraser and Scott Malouche the club successfully bid for the Power Squadron monthly dinner meetings. Not only was this financially beneficial to the club but the exposure of the Power Squadron Membership to the club has resulted in over 10 new members.
The main efforts during this year were to reduce costs and continue to maintain and improve the exterior of the club. To this end, Ken Priegel continued to maintain the pool, Bobby Thomas the lawn and gardens and Joah Etchels stained the exterior and deck.
Additionally, Ron Carfield and his crew erected a 12 foot by 35 foot sail locker under the club, creating a much needed area for the sailing program to store and stage items for each race. The efforts of Tom Hoots, Jim Landis and Hugh O’Connor in soliciting sponsors for races began to pay off with sufficient excess funds to pay for the materials required for the sail locker and first class race prizes.
At the beginning of the year we expected the Beaufort County Boat Launch site on Helmsman Way to be completed and the Dock and Yard Committee to establish usage rules and a rental fee for the use of trailer storage at the club. During club clean up day the trailer/boat area was cleared of brush and debris to allow maximum usage of the space. Luckily the Launch Site was delayed and the establishment of the rules and a rental rate will wait another year.
The Finance Committee and the Board have kept expenses and finances under control, but some fine tuning is in store for future years to insure the clubs continued solvency.
Memberships have been sufficient to offset losses. Scott Malouche our Steward for 5 and a half years decided to move closer to home and fortunately we found a very capable replacement in Carter Gebert who is no stranger to the club. All in all 2004 was a busy and productive year.
In 2005 Bill Nicol became Commodore with installation at the change of watch. The club had just replaced our long time steward, Scott Malouch, with Carter Gebert. When you make a change like this there is some apprehension. Our concerns were unfounded. Carter made some significant improvements in the menu, upgraded the Sunday brunch and implemented effective cost control.
The club remained in good financial shape thanks to the Finance Committee. A significant property tax increase experienced in 2004 was reduced to a more reasonable number through negotiations with the county tax office. Careful management of our funds remains a high priority.
The grounds never looked better under the care of our master gardener, Bob Thomas. The clubhouse is in decent shape for a 30 plus year old building. Some significant work to get our kitchen in compliance with the Town Fire Code was started and will have to be completed next year. The care and maintenance of the pool was a challenge and will be more so, as Ken Priegel steps down.
With new memberships offsetting loses, the number of members is the same as last year at this time. The Board of Stewards established 130 as the membership goal to attain. With an outstanding Main Sheet and a dynamic web site, all members were kept current on the happenings at the club. Ruthie Thomas and Dianne Faucette did a fantastic job.
The Nauti Ladies remained an effective group and contributed greatly to the success of our club. Many of our events were made more successful by the entertainment provided by our talented member, Pat Foley.
Tom Hoots and the Race Committee directed another successful racing program. The hard work of the individual regatta chairs contributed greatly to the success of all the races. The club sailing program was not as successful and is something that will need work in the years to come.
In 2006, Hugh O’Connor became Commodore with installation at the November Change of Watch dinner. Major events that occurred under his careful direction included:
1. Renovation of the kitchen to conform with fire codes and improve efficiency of food preparation and handling.
2. Planning and execution of a major renovation of the dock used to store the JY-15s.
3. Increasing in volunteerism and participation by a wider selection of the membership.
4. Maintenance of the membership at a high level.
Jim Landis had the helm in 2007 and was ably assisted by a strong Bridge, active Board and the traditional generous volunteerism of club members. Events during the year included the implementation of a smoke free clubhouse, the repair and extension of the bar, the approval by the IRS of non-profit status for the club, and the rescheduling of the club’s bank debt to halve the monthly cash cost of debt service. There was the usual active regatta program and a lot of enthusiasm for the special events program. The club celebrated its 35th anniversary throughout the year.
November of 2007 Emory Logan became the third woman commodore with installation at the Change of Watch. This year the club combined the celebration of their 35th anniversary with the Change of Watch. The decorations were beautiful and the extras were compliments of Jim and Ann Landis.
Darren Macioszek took over in December as our new club steward. He replaced Carter Gebhart who resigned after 3 years of service. The transition went smoothly under the direction of John Fraser, chairman of the Food & Beverage committee. Changes were made to our menus and we experienced a significant increase in the number of members attending Friday night dinners.
The kitchen was improved with the replacement of 2 ranges, 1 hood and an under-counter cooler. The curtains behind the buffet table were removed and walls with a doorway were installed, including a liquor cabinet behind one wall. This was accomplished by Dennis Foley, chairman of the Building & Grounds committee and his helpers with the Nauti Ladies doing the painting & decorating.
The house committee was made a function of the Nauti Ladies due to their involvement in improving the club house. A coffee buffet was purchased by the Nauti Ladies including another coffee pot which made a vast improvement to our coffee service. A hutch was purchased to hold and display the club merchandise which will hopefully improve sales.
We encountered a decrease in membership during 2007 due to the economy. A New Member committee was formed with the purpose of advertising the club in order to increase membership. With the guidance of Mary Anne MacAlarney, the committee was able to get the club on the local TV station, place an article in the Pink Sheet and distribute flyers at the local marinas.
Due to a decrease in revenues, a Strategic Planning Committee was formed to plan for the future. The Finance Committee was incorporated into this committee and Ray Carlton, rear commodore, was appointed chairman. They recommended that the maintenance of the swimming pool be done by the membership and this was approved by the Board of Stewards. With the help of Bill Lawrenson, treasurer, we were able to put all our finances on quick books and bill correctly including minimums. We are now able to print financials, as necessary, to see where the Club stands financially.
Participation in our sailing program is still lacking. It is felt that this won’t improve unless we get younger members. Our regattas were successful in 2008 with the help of the Nauti Ladies and the Food and Beverage committee.
Bob Thomas, our master gardener, fell ill and had to take a leave of absence from the garden. Dennis Foley, Mike Wallace and Jim Carnevale are doing a great job in his absence.
Once again the club has some financial difficulties. I am sure the membership will rise to the challenge.
George V. Kedrowsky was elected Commodore for 2009. The Change of Watch and 35th Anniversary dinner was held November 7, 2008 featuring dancing and music by Dave Wingo. The annual meeting and awards ceremony was held on October 30, 2008. The social events for the ensuing year were kicked off with the traditional Holiday Party with a special appearance by Santa. Our in-house entertainer Pat Foley led the 12 days of Christmas and Caroling. A Santa’s special brunch was followed by an outstanding New Years Day brunch. On January 18th a new venture, led by Judy Safay and Joni Drayton, was a fun filled tailgate party for the AFC/ NFL championship games. January ended with our third Mah Jongg madness tournament.
The club went back to an old tradition of having volunteer members bartending on Friday nights. This made the club feel a bit more personal and casual. The swimming pool committee members took over the responsibility of maintaining the pool. Traditional activities such as the couple’s golf tournament, weekly hackers golf, and weekly Mah Jongg continued.
The year continued with many great events, including: casual game nights, local outings, “Class and Grass” Karaoke party with prime rib dinner, New Member Recognition Party, Saint Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage dinner, Kentucky Derby party, a Mother’s Day brunch, a September tailgate party and a Country Hoedown, with our own in-house band. The Nautiladies, our social committee, continued to plan many of these activities.
For the nautical side of the club, the board formally established the positions of Fleet Captain filled by Bill Lawrenson, Powerboat Fleet Captain filled by Dave Shkor and Sailing Fleet Captain filled by Chris Maxim. Many nautical activities were held throughout the year due to the leadership of these individuals. The spring and fall Flying Scott series continued with great success. The 40th Harbour Town Cup Regatta, held in April, chaired by Jim Vaughn and Tom Caldwell, and the 39th annual Calibogue Cup, held in October, chaired by Judith and Bill Lawrenson and Jim Vaughn as race PRO, were both an outstanding success. Many raft-ups, day trips, lunch cruises, BoatOuts to Daufuskie and Port Royal were held throughout the Boating seasons.
Club improvements continued throughout the year with a new wireless broadband Internet connection, better cable TV and telephone service, thanks to Bob Hattersley. The Nautiladies customized white chair covers to match the white tablecloths used for special events. Building and grounds improvements continued under a team led by Dennis Foley, our committee chairman, with many improvements including upgrades to our kitchen. The ship’s store was relocated into the club room. Our dock and boat yard facilities were well organized and utilized under the leadership of Larry Jordan. Melba Hildenbrandt continued keeping your finances in order. Our website, manager Dick Lewis, kept members informed. Our site (www.yachtclubhh.org) contains information, pictures, events and history.
After many years at the helm of “The Main Sheet” Ruthie Thomas stepped down. Bill and Judith Lawrenson volunteered to become editors. The club also combined mailing of The Main Sheet and invoices concurrently. Plans were also initiated to use the Internet for sending The Main Sheet and invoices. In summary, the year was filled with outstanding events and activities.
2011-2012 Atlee (Sonny) Compher was elected Commodore for 2011 and re-elected for 2012. The last two years have been exciting for the club. We started out with a lot of problems and we worked through most of them with the hard work and perseverance from the board and club members. The first thing we did in November 2011 was to hire a new steward, Megan Yeoman. Her first meal was the New Year’s Day brunch. The board felt that we needed to go in a new direction, which greatly reduced payroll, food and beverage costs. Megan had a better job offer after four months. Then we hired Marti Etter. She continued to reduce costs relating to the steward’s position.
In the summer of 2011 we were able to get the Sunset Rotary Club to meet Monday evenings for the dinner/meetings at the club. This alone has helped tremendously to the profits of the club. They continue to meet here and we have gained several new members from the Rotary Club.
Also in the summer of 2011 we closed the pool permanently. The pool needed over $20,000 in repairs and upgrades to bring it up to code. The area was filled with dirt and seeded. The area is currently being used as a boat repair area.
We switched from Hargray to Time Warner Cable for our internet and phone service with a substantial savings each month. Republic Waste Services took over our trash removal and they also offer recycling at a reduced cost. We cut down two dead trees in June, which made the boat storage area more usable. We reduced the weekly cleaning cost by 50% by hiring an outside contractor.
In December 2011 the board approved a new set of steps for the side entrance to the club. This was completed by the members at a cost of under $1,000. The new steps greatly enhanced the safety and appearance to the club.
The real estate taxes have been increasing over the years and we found out the Beaufort Yacht Club had formed a Homeowners Association several years ago to reduce their taxes. The board agreed to form a Homeowners Association with the help of many members. Our taxes are now 50% of what they were previously. We refinanced the current mortgage at NBSC, whose President, Tom Henz, was a former Commodore of the Yacht Club. The interest rate of the loan ($64,000) was reduced and realized a savings of over $200 per month.
The summer of 2012 we hired Lindsay Burnett as club steward. Lindsay came to us with a great background in food and beverage, since her family owns a catering company in Ridgeland. Lindsay has “kicked it up a notch” with her experience and team.
We sold three JY15 sailboats in the summer of 2012 that were not being used. A lifetime member, Terry Keane, purchased these for a sailing club on Lake Keowee that gained us $3,600. Our dock and yard continues to be used by members and the income was over $8,000, which pays for the rental of the floating dock at Palmetto Bay Marina. New tile flooring was installed in the kitchen area behind the serving tables and under the ice machine area to match the existing floor in the kitchen. New lighting was installed over the serving tables and in the hallway and entrance to further enhance these areas.
The building was repainted outside in the fall. We also placed 30 burgees down the middle of the club’s ceiling. The storage area in the corner for the chairs and TVs was completed with doors and plants that make the area more attractive.
The sailing and boating programs were successful both years. We had small boat Saturdays and raft-ups. We also sponsored the Harbour Town Cup and the Calibogue Cup races. We also had Derby Day parties, Mother’s Day brunches, theme dinners on Friday evenings and participated in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. During the winter months we had game nights, and tailgate parties which were a hit. The ladies continue to use the club for Mah Jongg and exercise several times a week in the club. The hackers golf group continued to “hack” it around on Wednesdays and we had a talent show.
One of the projects that I wanted to accomplish, a dock for the club, did not come to fruition. We cannot build a dock with the current regulations in place. I will continue to pursue this by contacting the Corps of Engineers. I feel that in order for the club to grow, we need a dock of our own.
Our membership is up a little bit since 2010 but we are still lagging. The key to the success of the club is membership. Bottom line, we are solvent (finally), the taxes were reduced, bank loan rate reduced, and all of the loans to the members were paid. Expenses in all areas of the club were reduced.
2013 Commodore: Aubrey Vaughan
2014 Commodore: Norm Shotz
2015 Commodore: Mike Roe
2016 Commodore: John Lang
The year began with the traditional Change of Watch ceremony appointing John Lang as Commodore, Michael Gilroy as Vice Commodore, and Cecil Viverette as Rear Commodore. Rounding out the Bridge was Linda Sheets as Secretary and Barry Moore as Treasurer. The Bridge was supported by an outstanding Board of Stewards.
During this term, the goals were strengthening the Club’s financial performance, as well as increasing member benefits.
Barry Moore significantly improved the discipline of budgeting and planning, a huge effort given the burden of upgrading an aging and inaccurate accounting system. His work provided the Club with a solid, professional finance operation.
Food and beverage costs were under control, and participation in Friday night dinners grew. The change from the salaried steward to caterer approach that had been made the prior year produced the anticipated result. A new caterer was introduced after a very well organized search handled by an excellent committee chaired by Vice Commodore Michael Gilroy.
The Board of Stewards recognized the need for revitalizing the grounds, and Sonny Compher gratefully accepted the direction of Corinne Roe, member and Master Gardner, in designing and completing this daunting pass. The effort involved hundreds of volunteer hours donated by members as well as the selection and direction of professional landscapers. These efforts were extremely successful and deeply appreciated by the membership.
Certainly a highlight of the year was participation in the Conch Republic Cup, an international ocean race from Key West, FL to Varadero and then on to Havana, Cuba. Mike Roe championed the event, using his boat and serving as Captain of this grueling undertaking. Almost every sailing member of the Club participated in at least one leg of the adventure --- sailingRoeboatfrom Hilton Head to Key West; participating in the race & bringing back some silver; and then returning Roeboat to its home berth on Hilton Head Island, a very proud moment in the history of the Club.
Overall it was a wonderful year, filled with boating as well as land based activities. Thank you to Marilyn Owen who organized field trips to the Savannah Music Festival and a tour of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Thank you to Mike Gilroy for pulling together two dinner theater events plus numerous successful boating trips.
2017 Commodore: Mike Gilroy
I was elected Commodore in October of 2016, succeeding John Lang and Mike Roe, two of the most dynamic Commodores the Yacht Club of Hilton Head Island has ever known. My first actions were to rally the membership to clean up the grounds after Hurricane Matthew and to reorganize the under-club storage area and sail locker. Our greatest accomplishment, however, began with a simple request from the Nauti Ladies to modernize the ladies’ room. As time went by, “project creep” took over; and, during the months of July and August, virtually the entire back hall, ladies’ room, men’s room and office were refreshed and redecorated literally from floor to ceiling. For the remainder of the year “Phase 2” of club upgrades took place with the repainting of the dining room. All this took place against a background of great Friday night meals, outstanding boating events (both sail and power), FUN(D) special events and community outreach programs. I am indebted to the two Commodores who preceded me for their courageous actions and the two Commodores who will follow me, Cecil Viverette and Mary Ryan, who worked tirelessly on my upgrade projects to bring them to fruition.
2018 Commodore: Cecil Viverette
2019 Commodore: Mary Ryan
It was a very successful year for the club and members. We completed the Long Range Planning and did a significant member survey. The members are very pleased with the club and the activities. A new Yacht Club sign was added to the entrance of the club and should last 15 to 20 years. The back decks were power washed and then painted. We designed a new website that has customer service management capabilities. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment was that the members voted to raise our dues by 10%.