The Split Rock Yacht Club (SRYC) is located at the Crater Club’s Burnham’s Landing in Essex, NY.
“Adjacent to the Crater Club dock, the Split Rock Yacht Club, a small informal club, sponsors weekly sailing races during mid-summer. For the past 60 years, the Club has followed the course from the southern shore of Essex to a marker in Whallons Bay and back to a marker off Cannon Point and finally to the finish line in Cape Cod Knockabouts.” (Town of Essex Local Waterfront Revitalization Program)
Split Rock Yacht Club History
Before the Split Rock Yacht Club was formed, for a short time the Crater Club Yacht Association (1935-38) was the local yacht club. Log books for that first association exist in Willsboro’s Paine Memorial Library. According to The Crater Club Centennial Celebration program (1999) this first club was not very well organized, so the SRYC was formed to “organize and perpetuate competitive sailing at the [Crater] Club” (pg 12).
The Split Rock Yacht Club began to take form with the work of Dick Baker and Koert Burnham in 1938 (35th Anniversary SRYC Yearbook, 1974). The officers of the club wrote to Lloyd’s Register of American Yachts (in London) to register SRYC and its first yacht in 1939 (35th Anniversary SRYC Yearbook, 1974).
A decision was made to incorporate in 1961 that caused some amusing confusion.
“SRYC found there was another club with the same name, and settled, to everyone’s disappointment, on Cannon Point Yacht Club as a name. Happily, further research found that the 1941 Incorporation was our very own.” (35th Anniversary SRYC Yearbook, 1974. 6).
The SRYC has had its ups and downs in the past. For example, WWII caused some problems. The vice commodore (Gyde) had to resign because gas rationing didn’t allow him to make the trip to Essex. Members of the armed services had their dues remitted during the war, and so the club had less money and some members were kept away because side effects of war. Thankfully full scale operations resumed after the war (1974 35th Anniversary SRYC Yearbook. 5-6).
Split Rock Yacht Club Races
I’ve spoken with several members of the SRYC to get an idea of what it’s like today and how the club is run. The SRYC is set up as a 501c (6) organization with formal bylaws and established customs to ensure things run smoothly:
- One class of boat – the baby Cape Cod Knockabouts
- Races every Saturday (weather permitting) during the nine week summer
- Club officers who know and perform their duties well
- A tea/meeting after every race to discuss and record the race results and plan for future events
- A yearbook which documents the Club’s activities during each summer
- Signal flags and burgee hoisted during race day at the Crater Club’s parking lot overlooking the lake
- Use of the Crater Club’s dock and Burnhams Landing during and after the races
- Weekly trophies and a season trophy awarded to winning skippers
- Crew positions open to any person who shows up, not just SRYC members
“Three race markers are set to define the triangular course from Crater Club to Cannon Point to the south end of Whallons Bay and back. Skippers leave their moorings just before race time and the Harbormaster sounds his horn 5 minutes before the start, then 3 minutes before, and then at the start, displaying the time with colored panels from the dock. Race times are recorded and discussed at the meeting after boats are secured.”
As mentioned above, the Split Rock Yacht Club is restricted to a single class of sailing vessel, and for this reason club members maintain a small but active racing fleet of Cape Cod Knockabouts. This unique sailboat has only a few small fleets in the United States.
The SRYC also has had a unique variation of this boat that was created when local shipbuilders redesigned the Knockabout into the Champlain Sailabout at the time of the SRYC’s beginnings. Until the late sixties most of the boats in the club were actually Champlain Sailabouts, not Cape Cod Knockabouts (Ben Brewster).
Split Rock Yacht Club Location
View Flaneur’s Guide to Essex, New York in a larger map