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EPYC History

The Eastern Point Yacht Club is located on Gloucester's outer harbor, overlooking the Dog Bar Breakwater and the Atlantic beyond. Founded in 1923 as a private club dedicated to sailing and yachting activities, the Club has a rich racing tradition and offers unparalleled access to the coastal waterways of Massachusetts Bay.

Sailboat racing in Gloucester had long since evolved from the organic competition between ocean-going fishing schooners racing their catch back to market into active races between all manner of boats in the harbor and surrounding waters, organized by the then defunct Cape Ann, East Gloucester, and Gloucester Yacht Clubs. When Gloucester's 300th anniversary was celebrated in 1923, long-time Eastern Point resident Jonathan Raymond was called upon by the city to organize a series of schooner races as part of the festivities. Coming on the heels of a lull in recreational sailing activity because of World War I, these races inspired such enthusiasm that Raymond and several other Eastern Pointers convened on September 9 to form the Eastern Point Yacht Club.

The following summer of 1924 saw the Club opening with a race around Gloucester Harbor on June 28, with the modest red Raymond's bathhouse, just north of the Club's present home, serving as its quarters, and John Greenough as the commodore. It was fitting that the Club's first activity would be a race, as sailboat racing was, and has always been at the center of its existence. The German-designed Sonder and the Midget, specifically designed for racing in Gloucester Harbor, were the Club's first classes, joined shortly by the Triangle and the Cape Cod Knockabout.

By 1929, the Club's success necessitated a move to a larger location. Designs for an elaborate clubhouse and pier were made for a property purchased at the north end of Niles Beach but the stock market crash scuttled the plan. The nearby “Rockmere Cottage” was purchased and modified for club use and opened in 1930 facilitating a further expansion of the membership despite the economic difficulties of the decade to come. After another war-induced sailing lull, the yacht clubs of Massachusetts Bay chose the 210, a C. Raymond Hunt design as its new racing standard in 1945. This class was to become the most pervasive in Club history as the Triangle died out and others, such as the 110, came and went. Even as the membership eventually shrank in the 1970s and ‘80s, a dozen or more 210s would race and enliven the club afterwards, but the class would eventually lose out to the more easily sailed Rhodes 19 in the late 1990s.

In the late 1940s the opportunity presented itself to move to its current location, a property owned by the family of former commodore John Clay, Jr., and the club reopened there in 1951. "Finisterre” was one of the original eleven cottages built on Eastern Point in 1888 (at a cost of $12,000) and said to have been the first choice of parcels when owners drew lots to choose. The combination of extensive shoreside facilities and a protected anchorage with immediate access to the ocean made for an ideal location. The house and various outbuildings were modified, a building for junior sailors was added to the property, and a swimming pool took the place of the tennis court.

The Clay’s caretaker Bill Morris was retained by the Club after the transition and took on the responsibility of running races and maintaining floats, moorings, and dinghies until his retirement after the 1980 season. Jim Whalen had served in a similar capacity before the move to 125 Eastern Point Blvd, and for a long time after his retirement, he made the trip to the Club twice daily to fire the gun and oversee the morning and evening colors.
In the years since, with thoughtful upgrades and modernizations of the facility, Eastern Point Yacht Club has evolved significantly and has a full and active membership made up of people from across the North Shore and well beyond. While sailing and power boating remain at the epicenter of the Club, it also affords members and guests a unique location to dine, stay and enjoy a full range of social and cultural programs. The junior sailing program welcomes students of all ages from the greater community to learn to sail and develop an appreciation for being on the water. The Club has counted highly accomplished blue water sailors, and one-design, junior and ocean racers amongst its membership ranks, and in recent years has also hosted numerous significant racing events including the 210 National Championship (three times), Rhodes 19 East Coast Championships, Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival (three times) and. Filled with an enthusiasm reminiscent of that September in 1923, the Club continues to thrive as it looks to its next 100 years while remaining firmly rooted in its rich and colorful past.