Seabacs’ Past Commodores
Since our founding in 1961, we’ve had some great people at the helm in the position of Commodore who help to steer the direction of the Seabacs’ Mission and activities and we are grateful to all of them.
Some of them pictured in the photo below (L-R) are:
Rear: Paul Hunter, Ken Rollins, Pieter Rooker, Bill Larer, Mike Kelley
Front: Mike Haverly, Will LaBahn, Karen Garringer, Rick Edel, Dave Garringer, Craig Waffle, Ray Williams
YACHT & BOATING CLUBS FAQ’s
Frequently Asked Questions
To the non-sailing public, much about yacht clubs and other sailing organizations seems odd and confusing. For example:
Neither size nor propulsion nor appointments define a yacht. Contrary to popular opinion, yachts can be any size, powered by any means and luxurious or austere.
A yacht is any vessel used for recreation, rather than for military or commercial purposes. It may be any size and powered by any means. Yachts range from a few feet in length to several hundred. They may have luxurious accommodations or none at all. A rowboat is a yacht; so is the billionaire’s 200-footer.
A burgee is simply a distinguishing flag for a boat or sailing organization; it can be any shape, but is usually a triangular pennant. It identifies boats to one another.
Merchant ships of the late 18th century flew their their country’s flag from the end of the gaff at the top of the mainsail and owner’s burgee at the top of the mast. The owners’ burgees were often long pennants, also serving as wind indicators, so the masthead was a necessary location.
Why the yacht club burgee can be flown above the US ensign is due to the important contributions of privately-owned ships to the American Revolution. At the time of the war for independence from Britain, there was no US Navy; the nearest counterparts were private vessels, many of which went into patriotic service. Today’s flag etiquette recognizes that our nation’s existence owes partly to private ships and sailors. A burgee can be flown above the US ensign, if the burgee is at the top of a mast and the ensign is flown from a gaff projecting out from the mast.
On the water:
Aboard a boat, the traditional place for the national ensign was the aft end of a gaff for the mainsail or the leech of the mainsail. The traditional places for the yacht club burgee are at the masthead or a “pigstick” hoisted above the masthead. These places have become impractical on modern boats, so now:
- The national ensign may be flown from a pole at the stern or the backstay of a sailboat.
- The yacht club burgee may be flown from a pole at the bow or a flag halyard to the lowest starboard spreader. Yacht clubs may adopt rules for its display.
- When in foreign waters, a boat is expected to fly a “courtesy flag” of that nation from the starboard spreader halyard.
In addition, a boat’s owner may have a “private signal”, to be flown under or in place of a yacht club burgee. A yacht club officer may fly the flag of office under the club burgee, in place of the private signal.
The Racing Rules of Sailing state that no flag is to be flown while racing, except those specifically required in the sailing instructions.
Sailing clubs and yacht clubs are voluntary associations of members for enjoying their sport. They may operate clubhouses and marinas and give parties, but on-the-water activities take precedence.
A sailing club is usually restricted to sailboats. A yacht club or boat club usually has both sailboats and power boats (&/or, perhaps, rowing shells). All three are voluntary — and usually non-profit — associations of boaters for mutual benefit.
The world’s oldest voluntary yacht club is Royal Cork Yacht Club, founded 1720 in Ireland. The New York Yacht Club was founded in 1844 and the Boston Yacht Club in 1866. These were sailing clubs, as steam and internal combustion propulsion weren’t yet available.
Sailing and yacht clubs in the Rocky Mountain region date to after World War II. Denver Sailing Association traces its history to the Rocky Mountain Sailing Association, founded May 1946, and the Sloan’s Lake Yacht Club founded in 1966.
Most sailboat races are conducted by yacht clubs and sailing clubs who are members of the national governing body — in the USA, that’s US SAILING.
The term derives from the early years of command requirements for the US Navy. Initially, there was little need or opportunity for multi-ship operations; each ship was independently commanded by its own captain.
But, coordinating tactics of fleets of more than one ship required a more unified structure. For this, the British and other navies had “Admirals”, but the word was anathema to the US Congress. Instead, senior captains were designated as Commodores, who could “suggest” how other captains should maneuver. Efficacy of the Commodore system depended on the tactical brilliance and diplomatic skills of the Commodore as well as the amenability of the captains to be coordinated.
Eventually, the US Navy adopted the term Admiral and gave them the power to command other ships. In World War II, the Commodore rank was limited to shore officers and it disappeared after the War.
However, the “soft power” of the Commodore is appropriate to leading voluntary organizations such as sailing and yacht clubs. No captain can be compelled to follow.
Types & flavors of Commodores
Sailing organizations usually have more than one officer with “Commodore” in the title. They are known as “flag officers” because they’re entitled to fly the flag of office when aboard. They are elected, either by the membership or by a Board of Directors and serve terms of one to two years.
Commodore — The “President” of the club or organization, responsible for all aspects of operations. The Commodore usually leads meetings of the organization and its Board of Directors. The Commodore’s insignia is three gold stars and the flag is a fouled anchor, encircled by 13 stars in white on a blue field.
Vice Commodore — Stands in for the Commodore in his or her absence and may have specific areas of responsibility — most often on shore, such as social events and port operations. The Vice Commodore’s insignia is two gold stars and the flag is a fouled anchor, encircled by 13 stars in white on a red field.
Rear Commodore — A lesser rank than Vice Commodore, usually also with specific responsibilities — most often on the water, such as racing and cruises. (In some clubs, the immediate past Commodore may be designated Rear Commodore.) the Rear Commodore’s insignia is one gold star and the flag is a fouled anchor, encircled by 13 stars in red on a white field.
Staff Commodore — Generally, any past Commodore, whether or not the person currently holds any office. Most sailing organizations designate the most recent past Commodore as “Junior Staff Commodore” and he or she serves as an advisor on the Board of Directors. A Staff Commodore’s insignia is three silver stars and the flag is a fouled anchor flanked by 3 stars along the hoist in white on a blue field.
Why the fouled anchor?
To foul the anchor line around the anchor is “the sailor’s disgrace”; a fouled anchor can not hold. Why, then, would yachtsmen choose it as a symbol?
It comes from long tradition. A “killick” in Scottish Gaelic, it originated in ancient times as a religious symbol of steadfastness, hope and salvation. It is also an ancient British heraldic device.
The Lord Howard of Effingham used the “Fouled Anchor” as his seal in 1588 when he was Lord High Admiral of England, at the time of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. (See http://www.pussers.com/scuttlebutt/view/33.) The Lord High Admiral of Scotland had used a variation about a century earlier.
A regatta is a series of multiple races over a short period of time, such as a weekend. Multiple races over a long period of time, such as a season, are called a series.
Our thanks to jrsailco.org for the information.