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. After all, the Club did break out of its floating Greenwich Village bar headquarters (though it still has no clubhouse to call its own), and it has raised its membership limit over the years. If more and more offshore sailors are hoisting more and more storm trysails on our coasts, the Club will undoubtedly grow and continue to attract seriously competitive blue water sailors. The Club sets its racing calendar based purely on the interest and initiative of its members. From start-up events such as Block Island Race Week to revitalizing classics such as the Montego Bay Race, the Club continually works to support events in which its members want to compete. Past Commodore Jakob Isbrandtsen articulated this philosophy, stating, “We’re not hidebound. The idea is to try it and, if it fails, we’ll try something else. It will be a sad thing if we get an organization that loses its flexibility.”
The onset of a new century brought with it a new wave of enthusiasm within the Storm Trysail Club. The Club has renewed its blue water roots by being a co-organizer (with the New York Yacht Club, Royal Yacht Squadron and Royal Ocean Racing Club) of the Trans-Atlantic Race in 2011 and ’15.
As a strong proponent of blue water racing it was only natural for the Storm Trysail Club to become very involved in Safety at Sea training. The Club has formed the Storm Trysail Foundation, which conducts hands-on seminars for sailors of all ages. Such a class is necessary to compete in blue water races such as Newport-Bermuda and Trans-Atlantic.
In addition, the Club in 2016 took over management of Quantum Key West Race Week, an annual attraction every January for boats from 24 to 72 feet. And every October the Club hosts the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta in western Long Island Sound. The winning school typically receives an invitation to the Collegiate Keelboat World Championship, held annually in France.
The Club, which was born in the middle of an Atlantic gale and grew into adolescence through the desire of a few shipmates to have a drink or two together, has grown into an outstanding organization of ocean racing sailors. The Club’s membership stands at more than 900 members, every one of whom knows how to handle themselves when the barometer drops and the wind and sea whip up.
Membership in The Storm Trysail Club is by invitation and, to quote from the Club’s 1995 By-Laws, “Candidates for membership must have set a storm trysail under storm conditions offshore or have weathered a storm under greatly reduced canvas or sailed 1,000 nautical miles offshore. They also must be experienced blue water sailors, capable of taking command of a sailing vessel offshore under any and all conditions.”
In an effort to increase membership the Club now accepts Corinthian Members. Corinthian members aren’t required to have flown a storm trysail, but must have completed an offshore race or passage that shows the candidate has a serious interest in offshore sailing.
The Storm Trysail Club is alive and well. Our roots are firm, our mission clear, and our leadership strong. If you meet our rigorous requirements for membership, you are welcome into our ranks.
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.