||The Origins of the StFYC Yachting Luncheon Speaker Series
By Ron Young
In the beginning, there was Denny...
In 1995, I began wondering, “When did the Tuesday Yachtsmen’s Luncheon series begin and who started it?” I started calling StFYC old timers. One call led to another and some clues led to more questions. I rifled through old Club directories and Mainsheets across the decades, spoke to retired Club staff, foraged the dusty shelves of the curator’s office and the dustier shelves between the ears of our oldest members. Based on such non-science (and not just because he told me so), I discovered that our only three–term Commodore, Denny Jordan, started the Tuesday Yachtsmen’s Luncheon in 1966. Here’s how it began:
On October 4, 1965, during Tim Moseley’s term as Commodore, a Monday “Stag Luncheon” series was inaugurated in the 2nd floor Clippership Room of StFYC. The mini series was hailed a success and continued through the end of the year. During the first month of his record third term, Commodore Denny Jordan announced that, effective February 1, 1966, the Club would be open for lunch on Tuesdays and the luncheon series would be moved to the Men’s Grill (known since 1989 as the “Grill Room”), and called “The Tuesday Yachtsmen’s Luncheon”. The first TYL Chairman was Vice Commodore Bill Stewart (ably assisted on this committee by RC Keefe). The first speaker was sailmaker Kenny Watts, who spoke about (you guessed it) “Sails.”
An astute businessman who held the Club’s interests close to his heart, Commodore Jordan proudly noted that the TYL increased both utilization and revenue on the previously closed Tuesdays.
The love of fellowship, a curiosity of things nautical and his raconteurial nature all guided Bill in his first years as chairman of the Tuesday Yachtsmen’s Luncheon series. Everyone recognized the amiable atmosphere of the “Men’s Grill”, with its panoramic view of Bridge and Bay was an ideal setting to share laughs, tell tales and recount adventures. Commissioned by Denny, armed with purpose and a perfect venue, Bill began inviting speakers of all stripes to share reports of their cruising, racing and other yachting activities with StFYC members and guests.
Every week a different story – Fifty two Wednesdays a year
From 1966 through 1992 the TYL closed during July and the Christmas holidays. In 1992 the TYL expanded to 52 Wednesdays a year. Denny is probably crowing to Saint Peter right now that his StFYC Yachting Luncheon series has continued for half a century and grown to be the biggest speaking bureau in the yachting world. His vision of dining in the company of adventurers, who can regale us with tall tales and yachting yarns, has largely been realized. For half a century now, our members have enjoyed first-hand accounts of nautical activities from around the world. Olympic hopefuls have excited us with their elaborate campaigns and medalists proudly displayed their winnings. America’s Cup victors have proudly exhibited the Auld Mug, as they confessed sifting through competitor’s trash cans in search of breakthrough designs. Ocean racers have praised the virtues of freeze-dried spinach and salt-water showers on cold foredecks. Record setting circumnavigators have revealed winning strategies (during the biggest storms) in which they deliberately slowed their boats to win. Because, “You can’t win the race, if you die before the finish.” And, yes, owners of 200+ foot luxury powerboats have confessed to multi-course gourmet meals and warm bubble-baths while cruising the frigid tips of our globe, never wanting for wind… or anything else.
A service to the broader yachting community
In 2004, the StFYC Board of Directors agreed to open the Tuesday Yachtsmen’s Luncheon talks to attendees from all 60 PICYA member yacht clubs. Beginning in June of that year, monthly schedules have been sent to interested PICYA clubs in service of the Nor Cal yachting community.
In 2006, forty years after Denny launched the TYL, the StFYC closed on Tuesdays. In response, the Tuesday Yachtsmen’s Luncheon shifted by a day and a nuance to become the “Wednesday Yachting Luncheon”, aka WYL.
While the talks are fun, educational and often inspiring, filling a calendar with speakers is always a challenge. We acknowledge here the chairmen who have kept the podium lively for half a century: Bill Stewart (1966, 67); Bill Howe (68); Pete Sutter (69, 70, 71, 72); de Jersey Grut (73, 74, 75, 76); George Freyermuth (77, 78, 79, 80); Hank Grandin (81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90); Don Bekins (91), RC Keefe (97, 98); Bill Raffanti (99); John Mills (00); Dick Enersen (01, 02, 03); Kimball Livingston (07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13); Ron Young, (92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 04, 05, 06, 14, 15, 16, 17).
We can only hope our wonderful speakers and audiences have had as much fun attending as your Chairs have had producing the Wednesday Yachting Luncheons!
We surely hope Denny is proud!