While the cost of joining the local yacht club is actually more comparable to hitting a bucket of golf balls at a Route 6 driving range than a membership at Augusta National, Mattapoisett Yacht Club Commodore Rick Warren acknowledges that stereotypes pose a recruiting challenge.
“It’s hard. We try to get members to bring guests to this June 11 (event) just to see how relaxed it is,” said Warren, stressing that not all yacht clubs are equal, and some sailors look for one thing in a yacht club while others look for something else.
Mattapoisett Yacht Club, he suggests, functions more like a recreation program with a social aspect that is extremely laid back. The idea, says Warren, is to get more people to realize that they, without spending in an entirely alien economic bracket, can make sailing part of their lives, too.
A recent press release reads, “It should be stressed that the club is open to new members regardless of whether you are a beginner or an experienced boater. And you don’t need to own a boat to enjoy the benefits of the club.” The release goes on to note opportunities to participate on and off the water and to crew.
The invitation is validated by the club’s $120 annual dues.
“Ours is more like a neighborhood gathering, and your friends are welcome to join us,” said Warren.
Although MYC, established in 1901 with operations only suspended by the two world wars and even sustained throughout the pandemic albeit with COVID-related modifications, membership is not where Warren would like to see it.
“There are 900 moorings in Mattapoisett, and we don’t have 100 members. Most of them don’t even know we exist,” he said, alluding to a committee meeting late last year to address the matter and use Facebook. “I’ve been involved in the racing part of it…. Mostly it’s word of mouth.”
MYC, explains Warren, lacks the overhead of some of the more prestigious yacht clubs in the region.
“We have our committee boats, our markers, and our social events,” he said. “It stayed low key, and … we don’t want to buy a building. It’s an RV, not a five-star hotel.”
MYC’s modest approach is not for lack of ambition. Warren was to be the navigator on Butch Joy’s Kindred Spirits J120 boat in the biannual Marion to Bermuda Race that has been cancelled due to pandemic-related concerns in Bermuda.
An assistant coach with the Old Rochester Regional High School sailing program, Warren says MattSail, the Mattapoisett Community Sailing Association program, has done a great job bringing children into the sport. But while some develop a passion for the activity, they often go off to college and careers take them elsewhere.
Getting younger members “is a process” and one that other clubs are also pursuing. Warren calls Angelica Yacht Club in Mattapoisett “even lower key,” operating in cycles as a learning program for kids. While its 2020 summer program was cancelled due to the pandemic, Warren said Angelica is trying to revive its learning program in association with the New Bedford-based Low Tide Yacht Club.
While MYC members will not have a Marion to Bermuda Race in 2021, the club is eager to get the more local activities of the season into gear.
The calendar kicks off on June 1 with the Tuesday night Ensign one-design class races, and the opening race in the Cruising boat handicap series begins on Wednesday, June 2. According to Warren, up to five entries are hoped for.
A larger event coming up soon is the June 12 Spring Round-the-Bay Race, the first race in the Buzzards Bay trophy series. Warren anticipates five or six boats out of Marion as part of the local a group of sailors that got together from Beverly YC, Buzzards Bay YC, New Bedford YC, Quissett YC (Falmouth), and MYC. Contestants race a minimum of four of the half dozen events on the schedule, and division winners for the series emerge.
An outdoor cocktail party social will be held the night before on June 11 at the boatyard clubhouse. “Hopefully the weather cooperates, and we’ll spread out chairs and tables around the boatyard,” said Warren. “We want people to be comfortable.” Traditionally a grill as well, this year will be confined to beverages.
Despite the opening up of the state, the pandemic lingers, and safety precautions are still being exercised.
On June 18, MYC will participate in the annual shakedown cruise to Pocasset, the first of several weekend outings to area harbors for power and sail boats. Warren reports that the Cruising Committee will soon announce another event, though the traditional “follow the fireworks” event depends on what individual towns do on July 4.
For more information on the MYC, email Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit mattapoisettyc.org.
By Mick Colageo