Stories from the Tred Avon Yacht Club
Tred Avon Yacht Club
101 West Strand
P.O. Box 337
Oxford, MD 21654
Founded in 1931, Tred Avon Yacht Club was originally known as the Kap Dun Club. The club has very active junior and racing fleets, including several "log canoes," historic sailboats based on the dugout, which was the traditional fishing boat on Chesapeake Bay in the early 1800s.
TRED AVON YACHT CLUB BECOMES NSHOF FOUNDING MEMBER
A Brief History of The Tred Avon Yacht Club
In June of 1931 a small group of Oxford citizens established a bathing and sporting club on The Strand just above the Oxford Ferry dock. They named it the Kap Dun Club which comes from an old English spelling of Town Point (or Cape). As the sea nettles moved in for the summer, the sporting activity quickly focused on yacht racing and the club held its first races for three boats on a Sunday in late June. The club name was changed to the Kap Dun Yacht Club. The fleet grew each week and by Labor Day of that year, the club organized a regatta with races for Knockabouts, Barnegat sneakboxes, Star boats, powered workboats, row boats, and a Free-for-All class including both square and sharp ended Log Canoes. The club also hosted a long distance race to Thimble Shoals for cruising boats. Jerry Valliant was elected Commodore and the club burgee was designed with a large blue “K” on a white background. There was an active social schedule with dinners and dances during the summer.
In January 1932 the membership voted to change the name of the club to the Tred Avon Yacht Club. A “reverse” burgee was adopted with a blue background and a white “Y” laid sideways with the points of the “Y” where the “K” had been. The same clubhouse was used but a proper flagpole was erected. By-laws were written specifying a variety of membership categories including women and juniors. The racing program flourished with weekly races and a July 4th regatta for Stars, Log Canoes, 16’ and 20’ classes and two Free-for-All classes. Membership increased to 89.
Throughout the 1930s the club grew and refined its racing. In 1934 the annual regatta was combined with that of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club and called the Oxford Regatta. Prominent trophies in that regatta included the Sir Thomas Lipton trophy and the Arthur J. Grymes trophy for Stars. New and local classes appeared on the scene including the Scrappy Cat designed and built by Ralph Wiley and the Comet designed by Lowndes Johnson. Many improvements in facilities were made over these years including a float and dock. But by the late 1930s there was a strong desire to build a dedicated yacht club for both improved boating and social activities. During the years that Dr. William Hammond was Commodore, 1938-9, the club leased Town Point from the town of Oxford and improved the property by grading the land, building a fence and a wharf. A new clubhouse was designed by Emory Ross and built by D. Norton Taylor. A new constitution and by-laws were adopted and the club was incorporated. The membership continued to grow and was then limited to 150. Racing flourished and the TAYC was asked to host the Comet Nationals in September 1939.
In 1940 Comm. Sigurd Hersloff started the Junior Sailing program with the addition of Penguins as a club fleet. The Club made an effort to increase Junior participation. During the war years racing was progressively limited with a small regatta in 1942, no regatta in 1943 and a “war” regatta in 1944. But in August of 1945 the Oxford Regatta hosted 64 boats. During the late 40s, the club developed rapidly. Further improvements were made to the house and grounds by enlarging the kitchen, adding a grilling area, building a dinghy shed with ramp and purchasing “The Swoose” for a club launch.
During the 1950s TAYC grew rapidly. There were constant improvements to the club facilities as the membership increased. Waterfront improvements included the extension of the east dock and the addition of the float, grading and filling low land near the dinghy shed, and a play area for young children. The Star fleet made a gift of an electric hoist for the dock. A new bar room and large porch were added to the club house. Club racing was dominated by fleets of small boats—Stars, Comets, Penguins, Thistles, Indian Landing 20s, Dolphins, Oxford Sailors, and Scrappy Cats. Club Championships were started and plaques established to record the Champions. Trophies were presented on Labor Day for club racing. The Oxford Regatta continued to draw large fleets of small and cruising boats. In 1950 the Oxford Race was changed from a start in Gibson Island to a start off Annapolis because of construction of a new bridge across the Bay. Club skippers were champions in their fleets and many Bay and regional championships were held by TAYC. In 1958 the Star class held its North American championships here and had entries from all over the world. During the summers there was an active social schedule with dances held most Saturday nights. Sunday night suppers at the club were family affairs at first catered by volunteers and then by a series of club stewards. In 1958 the TAYC started hosting a Fourth of July fireworks celebration for the town of Oxford which was funded in the early years by donations from members. Afternoon bridge was strictly for the ‘ladies’ and grew into a popular activity.
In 1950 the Junior Sailing Class was formally organized with R. Hammond Gibson as the first instructor. The strict, formal classes spawned a generation of TAYC sailors who have had long successful yachting careers. The Junior Sailing Program grew over the years with many of its alumni returning to teach the next generation of juniors. Noted yachtsman Sherman Hoyt joined the club in the early 50s and ultimately donated some of his many trophies to the Junior Sailing Program at TAYC. The junior boats have evolved from the Penguin to the Laser, Optimist and 420 following the national trends. TAYC Juniors have won many CBYRA championships and many of them have gone on to national prominence.
New regattas were established in time. In 1957 a fall race from Annapolis to Oxford was held by the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron for the cruising fleet. The return race to Poplar Island was sponsored by TAYC. Past Commodore Dr. Howard Kinnamon dedicated a punch bowl trophy to the memory of Past Commodore Dr. William T. Hammond and concocted the famous Hammond punch recipe. This regatta is now held annually in mid September. In 1984 the yacht club hosted a Log Canoe regatta in late August. In memory of his father who owned the canoe Island Blossom and in order to foster Log Canoe racing, Past Commodore William H. Myers donated the trophy for this regatta, a painting of the Island Blossom sailing past TAYC. A few years later, other traditional Chesapeake Bay classes were invited to race the same weekend and this regatta has grown to become the Myers Heritage Regatta and is held late each August.
During the latter 20th century many club families transitioned from racing one designs to racing cruising yachts. The club racing program included CCA and then PHRF handicap series. Teams of club members won many Bay championships and high point trophies from CBYRA.
A significant number of members distinguished the club by bringing home trophies from Annapolis, Nassau, Newport, Halifax and Bermuda.
In 1990 the old club house was found to be unsound. The membership voted to build a new two story house. A spectacular fire was organized to take down the old club. During the sailing season of 1991, the club operated from a tent but still hosted regattas for almost 300 boats. In late 1991, the new club opened to great appreciation for the view afforded by the second story balcony. In 2001 the membership voted to replace the old west dock with floating docks in order to reduce the effect of wakes. This provided mooring for a club fleet of Ideal 18’s which were purchased for the use of members for racing, instruction and day sailing. This fleet, known as Focus on Sailing, has increased participation in sailing by members who are not yacht owners or who want to sail in one designs with other members.