A summary history by past Commodore Ed Frenette
Our club was officially "chartered" by a filing with the Massachusetts Secretary of State as a not-for-profit social organization in 1980. Sven Tullberg was our first Commodore.
The roots of CYC are actually much older. In the sixties and seventies there was a social life and some organized yacht racing at the Lewis Wharf marina known as the Bosport Marina. Bob Davidoff and Jack Roberts were the founders of a marina that catered to pleasure craft in downtown Boston at a time when the waterfront was officially marked on the charts as a "condemned area in magenta.” The harbor was so dirty that songs were written about it! True Visionaries!
The Club was then known as the Bosport Yacht Club. Meetings and parties were held aboard the work boats and barges used by Bosport Docking Company in their commercial endeavors. In the mid eighties, Bosport Marina moved to new quarters at its present site attached to the Housaic Wharf following the Massport renovation of the area and the construction of the Constitution Plaza office buildings on the wharf. Being next to pier one in the former Boston Naval Shipyard and the frigate USS CONSTITUTION led to a name change of the marina to Constitution Marina. About 1987, the club in turn officially changed its name to Constitution Yacht Club and so filed with the Secretary of State along with newly updated bylaws.
One thing was missing since the move - a clubhouse. We lost the use of the old steel barge some time after the move to Constitution Plaza so that the social functions were hampered. Were do we have the spaghetti dinners? Were do the racers meet on a cool spring evening? Most importantly, where do we set up the keg?
Commodores Don DaCosta and Bill Smith successfully lobbied the owners of the marina for a place to meet which led to the acquisition of a clubhouse in 1989. The arrangement was that the marina purchased a new 50 foot river type houseboat with a built in galley and head with room for meetings and parties and the Club would buy furnishings and cooking and entertainment appliances. The Club also promised to pay any out of pocket costs related to the clubhouse and the marina would provide complimentary dockage. This spring, the "clubhouse" underwent a renovation to create two furnished studios so that Constitution Charters (a division of the marina) can expand their current boat and breakfast charters. (Note: The old clubhouse, which was being used as a B&B afloat, started to sink at the dock. The young couple aboard saw the water inside and notified the Marina. The "vessel" was raised, towed to Admiral's Hill Marina and totaled. It was bought by a local couple (Jon Dolence & Karen Maciejewski), rehabilitated and converted it to a new B&B. It is now located at the Shipyard Quarters Marina and known as the GREEN TURTLE.)
Being next to the USS CONSTITUTION led to a name change of the marina to Constitution Marina. About 1987, the club in turn officially changed its name to Constitution Yacht Club. Bill Matthews, who retired as Commodore in 2004, brought discipline and organization to our race committee. Thanks to Bill’s hard work and the use of his trawler as the committee boat CYC’s in harbor races became a great training ground for both those entering racing and experienced racers preparing for weekend regattas. Bob Hartl, CYC’s Corresponding Secretary and Webmaster, brought this same discipline to our web site. Together Bob and Bill started CYC on a course where a small club of 75 dedicated sailors without a clubhouse could look and act like a bigger, well run organization.
In the 1980s the club instituted a flexible racer/cruiser rating system which allowed boats to be scored based on the sails actually flown in each race. This had the effect of quickly advancing novice sailors up to racing (spinnaker) class to remain competitive. CYC’s racing season starts January 1st with the Jack Roberts Memorial trophy New Year Day Race.
Each year CYC runs three series of six races, for a total of 18, Wednesday night from May through September together with a Spring and Fall Regatta. In recent years, the Fall Regatta has been combined with our partner YC, Savin Hill, as a free pursuit race around the Boston harbor islands. In 2009 we also ran the Volvo Ocean Race PHRF Challenge. Over 23 boats participated to make this early May race a great success. As a result of this and our enthusiastic participation across the Mass bay area, the club was awarded 2009 Club of the Year by MBSA. Boston Harbor Islands Regatta Yacht Club Challenge Cup was first awarded in 2005 to the Constitution Yacht Club and again from 2009 – 2012… so far. Additionally, Constitution Yacht Club was named Fleet Champions for 2012!
NOTE: We view this “history” as a work in progress. We recognize that there are, indeed, many “histories.” We welcome the additions of other perspectives and memories of CYC members. Please submit yours to the Webmaster.