By the end of the 1960s, the time had come for the Storm Trysails Club to expand beyond its roots in New England. It was running two races that attracted great competition and its members were instrumental in the sport throughout the country. Although the Storm Trysail Club doesn’t have a central clubhouse, it is unique in that it has stations throughout the country which are tied back to the main club in Larchmont, N.Y.
The first station beyond New England was the Southern Station in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Founded in 1970, the station was logical because of the Southern Ocean Racing Conference, a popular month long series of distance races around Florida and out to the Bahamas.
A few years after the Southern Station was formed the Club founded the Ft. Lauderdale-Key West Race, a 160-nautical mile jaunt down the Florida Keys. It has become an annual fixture on the winter racing calendar.
In 1984, under the prodding of Southern Station Fleet Captain Skip Mansfield, the Club took over management of the Miami-Montego Bay Race. Otherwise known as the Pineapple Cup and held in odd-numbered years, it is an incredible 811-nautical mile sleigh ride through the Bahamas, the Caribbean Sea, and the Windward Passage (between Cuba and Haiti), before a downwind sprint to Jamaica.
The Club is always looking to add more blue water races and Southern Station members have been readying for a race to Havana, Cuba, in the not too distant future. Hopefully, it will not be long before Cruiser/Racers and Grand Prix yachts, under Storm Trysail auspices, will be finishing off Moro Castle.
The Club broke out of its New England area focus a second time, in 1981, when a Great Lakes Station was founded on Lake Erie, under the leadership of Milton Knight. The biggest long-distance race on the Great Lakes – the Mills Trophy Race – is managed by the Storm Trysail Club. Yes, more yachts sail in the Mills event than in the Mackinac races.
The Chesapeake Bay Station was founded in the mid-1980s under the command of Jim Scott and Past Commodore Jack King. Actively involved in race management on the Bay, the Chesapeake Station has become a co-sponsor of the Annapolis-Bermuda Ocean Race, held in odd-number years.
The Storm Trysail Club gained a foothold on the Gulf of Mexico with the formation of the Gulf Coast Station in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1997. In the early 2000s members in the San Francisco Bay area formed the Northern California Station, followed by the Southern California Station a few years later. In all, the Club has 10 stations around the country: Chesapeake, Long Island Sound, Great Lakes, Gulf Coast, Gulf of Maine, Marblehead, Newport, Northern California, Southern California and Southern.
The birth of The Storm Trysail Club dates to the 1936 Newport-Bermuda Race, the gale that battered fleet and the winter that followed.
The first generations of American ocean racers believed the best test of a boat was whether she could blast her way safely across the Gulf Stream bound for Bermuda and then house her crew once she got there.
With the end of World War II, a great many letters were written to round up the scattered membership and the Club was slowly reassembled.
In 1964, Commodore Jakob Isbrandtsen and NY Herald Tribune yachting reporter Everett B. Morris were jointly instrumental in urging The Storm Trysail Club to establish Block Island Race Week.
By the end of the 1960s, the time had come for the Storm Trysails Club to expand beyond its roots in New England.
All this suggests that The Storm Trysail Club’s growth has become more national, and its influence in ocean racing is expanding further in this country.