History of Duck Island Yacht Club
It all began in
June 1932 on the front porch of a Grove Beach summer home belonging
to the parents of our first commodore, William H. West. Bill and
his friends Robert Floyd and Jan Taylor had recently graduated from
college. Bill found work as a lawyer in New York City. His two
friends, still unemployed and seeking ways to make money, planned to
sell Dyer Dinks at the Larchmont Yacht Club Race Week. They thought
if they raced the Dyers well, they would sell a few of them.
However, only members of a yacht club could race at Larchmont.
Robert and Jan formed a yacht club and had it listed in Lloyd’s
Register in New York. The name came from the scene they were
observing from the front porch. They reasoned the flag should be
red, white and blue with a duck on it, preferably a Mallard. All
was done within two weeks, in time for the Larchmont Race. Robert
and Jan did not sell any Dyers, but they belonged to a yacht club!
charter members were taken aback when two weeks later, cruising
yachts from the Larchmont Club anchored behind Duck Island, blowing
there horns for the yacht club launch. The boys kept out of sight!
early 1930s, Duck Island Yacht Club became one of the charter
members of the Eastern Connecticut Yacht Racing Association and
twice hosted the Annual ECYRA Regatta. The club had an active
racing schedule going most Saturdays and Sundays. The first classes
of boats raced were Manchester, Handicap, Duck Island and Zip.
Harold D. Brainard built the last two types locally.
Winslow became Commodore in 1933 and served until 1938. At the 1938
Annual Meeting, the adults failed to show up. As a result, the
teenagers elected W. Whitney Stueck, one of their own, as
Commodore. In 1939, Fredrick G. Winslow was reelected commodore
and Stueck headed the race committee. The racing schedule had 29
days posted from July 1st to September 3rd. There were so many Zips
showing up for races, they had two starts, odd and even sail
the club had an opportunity to lease/purchase the Smith beachfront
house at the western end of Grove Beach. Fortunately the members
confirmed that they could not afford it as later that year the 1938
Hurricane blew the house away. In 1939, a motion was made to
investigate purchasing the land. Nothing ever came of it. In 1939
the club purchased a new committee boat, a 22' 6" motorboat with a
new 60 hp Chris Craft engine, from Harold Brainard for $750.
Throughout various years, the club rented the Grove Beach Tennis
Clubhouse for their clubhouse.
WWII, no meetings or races were held. Dues were lowered to hold
inactive members and there were no dues for members of the Armed
Forces. At a meeting on July 7, 1946, twenty members voted to start
races on July 26th and by 1947 all was returned to normal where the
racing classes included Comet, Star and Zip.
early 1970s, an increase in boat size to 30 ft was observed and the
nature of the club changed from mostly racing, to cruising and
racing. Duck Island now extended its visibility into Narragansett
Bay, Cape Cod and the Long Island fishtail.
In 1982, 25 members
created Connecticut’s first “dockominium” at Westbrook Harbor. The
plan included an area for the DIYC Clubhouse. In 1987, our 55th
year, the club achieved a long-standing goal of a permanent shore
facility. No more standing in the rain waiting for race results!
1990 brought the
purchase of a new committee boat, SITTING DUCK and the beginning of
a new fleet of Catalina Capri 14.2s for frostbiting and young member
training. By the end of 1996, racing classes included JY-15s and
Vanguards, and in 2000 an Etchells class began. The Etchells class
has grown to a recognized fleet of more than 12 boats.
Yacht Club continues to initiate and support many social, racing,
cruising and educational activities on Long Island Sound.