Newport Yacht Club was organized in 1936 through the efforts of the late Oscar Kuolt and several others. Its charter as a membership corporation under New York State law clearly stated its purpose: "To promote the sport of small boat sailing and small boat racing."
Its first location was on Newport Island, just across the Massuag Coves from the present location. Pilings from the old docks can still be seen during periods of low water. In the fall of 1943, Newport moved to the site of the Birds and Worms Hotel, which is now our clubhouse.
The Snipe was the first class raced at Newport. This class has grown with the club and for some years Newport's Snipe fleet has been one of the largest and most active in the country. The Lightning fleet was added in 1946, organized by Tom Sulivan, Gene Senn, and Bill Struab, with Dr. McIntoch as crew. This fleet has also become one of the largest in its class in the country.
In 1953 the Comets and Lightnings of the Algonquin Yacht Club joined Newport, having been flooded from their previous home. Then the Snipe fleet from the Nine Mile Point Yacht Club joined our ranks, and several Jolly Boat owners were members for a few years beginning in 1957.
In 1976 the Laser Fleet was added and in 1992 the club added Optimist Dinghies for the Junior Sailing program. With a $5,000 grant and a $20,000 loan from the Small Business Administration and with much hard work by the members, a new sea wall was built in the summer of 1973. The peak water level the following spring was one foot below the top of the new sea wall and well over the top of the old one. A club house renovation program began in 1977-78.
In the fall of 1985, the Irondequoit Bay Outlet Bridge was removed, opening the bay to boat traffic onto Lake Ontario. This caused a permanent change to activity on the Bay from that experienced by Newport sailors for the previous fifty years. In response to changing conditions, club members raised funds to build two 120 foot piers for the Lightnings, permanent haul-outs along the sea wall for the Snipes, and substantially upgraded the club's Committee boat and markset boats. Currently, the Club membership enjoys sailing both on the Bay or on the Lake making the decision unique to each of the fleets as well as based on the weather and boat traffic conditions. In the mid 1990's the Club started admitting non-one design boat owners in order to make use of vacant dock space. A Cruising fleet was formally established in 1999.
Leo Balandis (Rochester Canoe Club)
It wasn't the first time that Irondequoit Bay sailors got together on Sept.1,1952 for an around-the-bay race, but they probably knew little about similar races held in 1875 and 1876 when yachting fever first swept the Bay, followed by the canoe craze. On this 50th anniversary of the Brown Jug Race on Labor Day, let's look back at the evolution of the tradition. In 1876, you got to the Bay by horse and wagon; the railroad to Sea Breeze didn't appear till 1879, nor automobiles till 1900. Newport House was the place to go in the summer, and the Bay would soon be a booming resort area with hotels, steamboats, and amusements. Small groups were building clubhouses on the Bay, and boating clubs typically had a club sailboat, perhaps 17-23 Ft. long. Hiram Edgerton, who would become Rochester's Mayor in 1908, had a boat at Newport named after his wife, Medora. The 2nd Grand Regatta was held on Friday, Sept.8,1876, starting from Newport House at 10 AM. The race was twice around a 4 mile course, with a time allowance for slower boats. The overall winner must win 2 races, which took about 2 hours each, and that was the Marks brothers in the Point Lookout Club boat, Seth Green. The other 7 boats and their owners were: Newport (Luitweder), Stranger (Woodworth), Medora (Edgerton), Annetta (Dodd), White Cloud (Snyder), Tidal Wave (Dana), Fleetwing (Dodge). They didn't all finish, with boats trailing more than 30 minutes behind. In the 2nd race, the helmsman of Stranger was changed with no improvement as he carried too much sail for the puffy west winds. (Sound familiar?) Although this was expected to be an annual event, it was gone before 1883. After that, races on the Bay were more regular, but for smaller one design craft which were more competitive.
In 1952, the remaining sailing clubs on the Bay were Rochester Canoe Club, Newport YC, and Algonquin YC. Newport sailed Snipes and Lightnings, while Algonquin had Comets. At RCC, on the Bay since 1884, there was an enthusiastic group of Thistle sailors who had just started a new fleet and wanted to demonstrate their superior speed. The club's 41 members had 25 boats, including 7 Thistles, 4 K-Boats, 3 Larks, 3 Sailing Dinghies, and a smattering of 7 other types. After the clubs agreed to an Around-the-Bay race, RCC Commodore Dorr Phillips had to come up with an idea for a trophy. He asked his mother if she would part with her brown jug that she used to keep molasses in for 40 years, and that became the medium size 2nd place award, and the name of the race became the Brown Jug. Larger and smaller jugs were obtained for the 1st and 3rd places overall.
Newport YC hosted the first year, which would become an annual event alternating between RCC and NYC. The main event was scheduled for 11:45 AM with a casual afternoon extra. It was hot, humid, and overcast with a wind forecast of SE 10-20 MPH though the morning was light air. Thirty-one boats started at the same time, with no time allowance, which was distinctly unfair to the slower classes, but this was a speed contest, right? There were 7 Thistles, 11 Lightnings, 6 Snipes, 5 Comets, and 2 K-Boats. All 7 Thistles finished first, led by Dave Allyn, Bob Summerhays, and Chuck Angle. They were followed by Bill Straub-8, Art Ries-9, and Don Sweet-10 in Lightnings. The first 3 Snipes were Jules Kroeger-11, Al Kroeger-13, Pete Lauterbach-20, and in Comets Bob Ulmer-12, Dick Desens-14, Jack Fields-15. In K-Boats, Stu Tabor-30 of RCC nosed out Herb Gysel-31 of NYC. Here are all the others: Thistles Will Libby-4, Bud Tuthill-5, Ted Fitch-6, Ray Dudley-7. Lightnings: Ed Geir-16, Ed Bishop-18, R. Andrews-19, Fred Darling-22, Frank Unbehaun-25, Ray Hebert-27, Rosenbauer-28, Wes Farrell-29. Snipes: Al Holstrom-21, Ted Lindquist-23, Larry Ryan-24. Comets: P. Heyer-17, Tony Orlen-26. In the afternoon, the wind picked up, but only 12 boats raced including Thistles, Lightnings, and Snipes. Dave Allyn won again, and Will Libby was dismasted. The sailors had company that day in the form of regional Outboard Championship Races off Bay View, just south of the regatta. It was reported that the hydroplanes had a tough time, with several upsets due to "rough waters and winds".
In following years, different class boats were started at 5 minute intervals, the slowest first, to promote fairness in competing for the top 3 overall prizes; and yes, they are the same 3 Brown Jugs! The Algonquin Club soon merged with NYC, and the series has remained unbroken to the present day, always on Labor Day, weather or not. Although open to all sailboats on the Bay under 23 Ft., there have been few participants outside the 2 clubs. August 1, 2002