Duck Island Yacht Club

DIYC, Post Office Box 593, Westbrook, CT 06498

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List of Past Commodores


The Early Days













History of Duck Island Yacht Club

      It all began in June 1932 on the front porch of a Grove Beach summer home be­longing to the parents of our first commodore, William H. West.  Bill and his friends Robert Floyd and Jan Taylor had recently graduated from college.  Bill found work as a lawyer in New York City.  His two friends, still unemployed and seeking ways to make money, planned to sell Dyer Dinks at the Larchmont Yacht Club Race Week.  They thought if they raced the Dyers well, they would sell a few of them.  However, only members of a yacht club could race at Larchmont.

     Bill, Robert and Jan formed a yacht club and had it listed in Lloyd’s Register in New York.  The name came from the scene they were observing from the front porch.  They reasoned the flag should be red, white and blue with a duck on it, preferably a Mallard.  All was done within two weeks, in time for the Larchmont Race.  Robert and Jan did not sell any Dyers, but they belonged to a yacht club!

     The three charter members were taken aback when two weeks later, cruising yachts from the Larchmont Club anchored behind Duck Island, blowing there horns for the yacht club launch.  The boys kept out of sight!

     In the early 1930s, Duck Island Yacht Club became one of the charter members of the Eastern Connecticut Yacht Racing Association and twice hosted the Annual ECYRA Regatta.  The club had an active racing schedule going most Saturdays and Sundays.  The first classes of boats raced were Manchester, Handicap, Duck Island and Zip.  Harold D. Brainard built the last two types locally.

     Fredrick G. Winslow became Commodore in 1933 and served until 1938.  At the 1938 Annual Meeting, the adults failed to show up.  As a result, the teenagers elected W. Whitney Stueck, one of their own, as Commodore.  In 1939, Fredrick G. Winslow was reelected com­modore and Stueck headed the race comm­ittee.  The racing schedule had 29 days posted from July 1st to September 3rd.  There were so many Zips showing up for races, they had two starts, odd and even sail numbers.

     In 1938, the club had an opportunity to lease/purchase the Smith beachfront house at the western end of Grove Beach. Fortunately the members confirmed that they could not afford it as later that year the 1938 Hurricane blew the house away.  In 1939, a motion was made to investigate purchasing the land.  Nothing ever came of it.  In 1939 the club purchased a new committee boat, a 22' 6" motorboat with a new 60 hp Chris Craft engine, from Harold Brainard for $750.  Throughout various years, the club rented the Grove Beach Tennis Clubhouse for their clubhouse.

      During WWII, no meetings or races were held.  Dues were lowered to hold inactive members and there were no dues for members of the Armed Forces.  At a meeting on July 7, 1946, twenty members voted to start races on July 26th and by 1947 all was returned to normal where the racing classes included Comet, Star and Zip.

     Through the early 1970s, an increase in boat size to 30 ft was observed and the nature of the club changed from mostly racing, to cruising and racing.  Duck Island now ex­tended its visibility into Narragansett Bay, Cape Cod and the Long Island fishtail.

     In 1982, 25 members created Connecticut’s first “dockominium” at Westbrook Harbor.  The plan included an area for the DIYC Clubhouse.  In 1987, our 55th year, the club achieved a long-standing goal of a permanent shore facility.  No more standing in the rain waiting for race results!

     1990 brought the purchase of a new committee boat, SITTING DUCK and the beginning of a new fleet of Catalina Capri 14.2s for frostbiting and young member training.  By the end of 1996, racing classes included JY-15s and Vanguards, and in 2000 an Etchells class began.  The Etchells class has grown to a recognized fleet of more than 12 boats. 

     Duck Island Yacht Club continues to initiate and support many social, racing, cruising and educational activities on Long Island Sound.

 Paul Later, Historian