pequot yacht club founded in 1920
Pequot Yacht Club came to be through the efforts of Fred Bedford, in addition to Harold Lloyd, Johannes Schiott and Lawrence Craufurd. The first meeting of Pequot Yacht Club was held in the Greens Farms home of Fred Bedford on October 25, 1920. These Founding Fathers, in addition to a group of five or six interested sailors, agreed to form a yacht club for the purpose of reviving and promoting competitive sailing. In November 1920, a constitution and by-laws were drafted and ratified. Subsequently, the Club, consisting of 33 members, elected officers and set annual dues at $25.00 Although the initial meeting took place in Greens Farms, Connecticut, the history of the Pequot Yacht Club is unquestionably rooted in the history of nearby Southport Harbor which had been deepened in 1916 during construction of a golf course.
The Club’s first officers were authorized in November 1920 to negotiate the lease for the a building on the water in Southport, which was the PYC’s clubhouse from 1921 to 1926.
In April 1921, at the Club’s next recorded meeting, the character of the Club’s early years was established. The racing calendar was the primary issue. The Club’s first racing fleet consisted of four “R” boats (35 ft. sloops), five “K” boats, and one Star. Over the years, the Club has remained as much as its founders envisioned: an organization devoted simply to sailing.
As early as 1923, Club members believed that an active junior program was the key to sailing's future. In 1923, the Club sponsored the first junior regatta for crews under 18 in the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound. The first formal junior program at the Club was started the following summer.
By 1925 the original clubhouse was becoming overcrowded, and by September 1926, a four-story warehouse building had been converted into the two-story clubhouse used by the Club to this day.
The Atlantic class came to the Club in the fall of 1928 when a demonstration boat handily beat its Star competition. Twenty Atlantics were ordered immediately. In 1929 the Club ran the first Atlantic Class championship.
The Great Depression had a negative impact on the Club’s financial health and Senior membership dropped significantly. However, prior investment in a strong junior program was vindicated: by 1934 there were 116 junior members.
Although the Second World War made yachting a matter of secondary importance in Southport, the Club's Atlantics continued the tradition of vigorous participation in class racing. By 1949, Atlantic sailors from Pequot had won the national championships for eight of the decade's years.
During the fifties and sixties, the sailing auxiliary slowly became the dominant boat at the Club despite the continued vitality of class racing. The auxiliaries were raced in various Club events, and also made their mark in events held outside of Southport. Of particular note was Brigg Cunningham’s victory in the 1958 America’s Cup with Columbia.
In the seventies, the Club’s priorities were still to be the junior program and sail boat racing with the seventies witnessing the consolidation of the cruising fleet as the pre-eminent Club fleet. Activities were to be few, but well executed, supported by a small staff and a modest budget. After 50 years, the Club’s purpose had remained the same as it had been when it began in 1920.
Membership issues, and an accompanying sense of the Club bursting at its seams, occupied the Board of Governors for much of the eighties. One of the membership issues discussed (and resolved) was that of the creation of joint membership for husband and wife, a controversial issue reflecting a trend in the greater society. The dominant racing scene at the Club during the eighties continued to be the cruising fleet, but One-Design racing remained alive with a new fleet of Thistles, a class that had been absent from the Club since 1959.
By 1990, participation in cruising fleet racing was declining precipitously, but this was countered by a resurgence of popularity of One-Design sailing in Thistles. At the same time, recognizing the need to make sailing attractive to a membership pressed by time and family commitments, a search was begun to find a new One-Design class for the adult sailing program at the Club. The search eventually led to the Ideal 18. The success of PYC’s Ideal 18 program was recognized in 1993 by US Sailing, which noted the program's contribution to One-Design racing on Long Island Sound.
The club continues to produce many entries in many sailing events in the region and around the world.