A sailing regatta is nothing new in Annapolis, but this one—the “first annual” Seafarers Regatta—is the first of its kind for the city, and it’s bringing together a wide range of local sailing organizations.
In an era when few Chesapeake Bay area marinas and yacht clubs welcomed them, “a group of working-class men bonded together” to form the Seafarers Yacht Club (SYC). At first, they met in each other’s homes; later a rented storefront became their clubhouse. In 1967 the group purchased an abandoned Eastport building that had once been a schoolhouse for Black children. Since then the building at 301 Chester Avenue in Annapolis has been the permanent home of the Seafarers Yacht Club.
SYC also established the Seafarers Foundation, a 301(c) corporation that operates a Summer Youth Program, provides Thanksgiving meals for senior citizens, and supports local food banks. Under the leadership of Vice Commodore Derrick Cogburn, the foundation is the chartered organization for Sea Scout Ship 1959, called Seafarers Commitment, which was named the 2021 Sea Scouts National Flagship.
“For the most part we’re known as a powerboat club,” says Commodore Benjamin McCottry. “But we don’t want to put ourselves in that box. We do have sailboaters and we’re all drawn together from a shared love of the water.”
With the city’s reputation as the sailing capital of the world, SYC member Dale Clark, who later became Regatta Chair, suggested the idea of a regatta to Commodore McCottry. He, in turn, proposed it to the club’s Board of Directors. “We’ve never done it before,” was the response.
But there was no doubt they could. And as SYC quickly discovered, help was right around the corner.
Eastport is a strong sailing community, as most area sailors would agree.
“All we had to do was put out the word and the support followed. The mentoring of Eastport Yacht Club and its Commodore Mark Jones was invaluable,” both McCottry and Clark recall. “Because they hold races almost every week, a structure was already in place. We held meetings at both clubhouses.”
On and off the water, SYC members learned the basics of becoming race officials. “As a powerboater, it was all new to me,” McCottry recalls, including the experience he describes as his “trial by storm” where he learned that a rainstorm was no reason to call a race. “I was soaked to the skin, but it was all a part of sailboating and the learning process.”
On September 24, 2022, this joint effort will come together as the First Annual Seafarers Regatta, organized by Eastport Yacht Club and assisted by the Seafarers Yacht Club. The race begins at noon at the mouth of the Severn River. It’s capped at 40 participants; so far 22 have signed up, including vessels from Eastport and Seafarers Yacht Clubs, Annapolis Sailing School, the Annapolis Yacht Club, and J World, among others. There is no rain date; if winds are 4 knots or less, there will be no race. Net proceeds from the event will be donated to the Seafarers Foundation to continue its work to support underserved and underrepresented communities, especially in youth and senior activities.
Captain Clark invites “all of Annapolis to show up” at the Seafarers Yacht Club Awards Ceremony and Party to hear Caribbean music from Baltimore’s CAISO Steel Drum Band, and enjoy a selection of Caribbean food. Beer and wine will be available.
For more information on the First Annual SYC Regatta, and to purchase event tickets click here: