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History of The Atlanta Yacht Club


(Reprinted from the first Year Book, 1952)

In the spring of 1950 a new federal reservoir was completed in the valley of the Etowah east of Cartersville. The creation of this sizable body of water, known as Allatoona Reservoir, brought reality to the dreams of many a landlocked yachtsman in the Atlanta area and gave him a restless longing for the half-forgotten feel of a tiller and tug of sheet.

Guy W. Gupton, S. T. Gardiner and E. O Smithfield were first to take positive action by holding a meeting at the Smithfield home on June 2, 1950. Others present were Gilbert Beers, William G. Grant, L. G. Herrman, and Chuck and Hallie Martin. This group of sailing enthusiasts determined to organize a sailing club, and subsequent meetings were held almost weekly at the Cathedral of St. Philip until enough enthusiastic sailors had joined the group to assure a sound, active organization.

On June 14 provisional officers were appointed for the purpose of incorporation. These were E. O. Smithfield, commodore; Guy W. Gupton, vice commodore; William W. Timmis, Jr., rear commodore; Robert W. Schwab, secretary; and Charles Harden, treasurer.

The charter was received from the State of Georgia on July 19, 1950, and the Atlanta Yacht Club was an accomplished fact.

In a general meeting of the membership on August 2, provisional officers were elected to serve a regular term of one year.

During the first season, Galt's Ferry Landing served as the Club's anchorage for the small fleet of miscellaneous craft. The Penguins were the only racing fleet and races for this class were held every week.

The first annual formal banquet was held on December 13 of that year; and if there were any doubts as to the Club's future they were dispelled by the high enthusiasm and optimistic spirit which prevailed that night.

From that time on no effort was made to obtain new members, but rather to make discriminating selections from the large number of applications presented to the membership committee.

In the spring of 1951, the Club established itself on its present site. A dock was constructed by the members, and Clyde Chumley, a local resident, was employed as caretaker.

The second season brought out six organized fleets: Penguin, Snipes, Thistles, Y-Flyers, a handicap fleet and a power boat fleet. By midsummer there were 101 boats registered at the club.

Negotiation for a lease on the site had been started in July, 1950. They were concluded on September 25 the following year and a 20-year lease was issued by the federal government to the Club on January 14, 1952.

The building contract for the Clubhouse was let on January 17, 1952. The Clubhouse, commissioned on June 14, was designed by Norman Kohn and engineered by E. O. Smithfield.

The Club site of approximately nine acres above the maximum flood level is situated on the south shore of the lake midway between the dam and Little River, six miles north of Acworth and a mile and three quarters from Georgia Highway 92; 23 miles in a northerly direction from the city limits of Atlanta.

Committee chairmen who served through 1951 and the first part of 1952 were: Guy W. Gupton, boats; Gilbert Beers, building; George Sanford, clubhouse furnishings; S. T. Gardiner, entertainment; T. Clinton Huguley, finance; F. O. Brooks, flags; S. T. Gardiner, house and grounds; William Timmis, instruction; Norman Kohn, juniors; William Bugg, membership; Frank Brady, race; J. Brittain Pendergrast, Jr., Scuttlebutt; Shepherd F. Smith, safety; Dr. Sam Norwood, surgeon.

The Atlanta Yacht Club is a member of the North American Yacht Racing Union, and all AYC races are conducted under the rules of this organization.

Membership of the Club is set at a maximum of 200. By June 1, 1952, this number had been reached, and new members can be admitted only as vacancies occur.

It is believed that the Atlanta Yacht Club has had the fastest growth of any yacht club in the nation. The spectacular progress that has been made is due solely to the able and energetic leadership of its officers and the cooperative spirit of the general membership.

The Atlanta Yacht Club - Today

Sailing fleets at AYC have included the Penguin, Moth, Viking, Flying Dutchman and Flying Scot, as well as our current fleets of Thistle, Snipe, Y-Flyer, Laser, EC-12 and,for our youngsters, 420 and Optimist dinghies. We hold regattas and sailboat races for these fleets most Saturday and Sunday afternoons from March through November.

AYC is a member of US SAILING and South Atlantic Yacht Racing Association (SAYRA). Among our better known contributors to the sailing world are two America's Cup team members (including skipper Ted Turner), two IYRU senior judges, numerous one-design national champions, a member of the 1996 US Olympics Sailing Team and a number of volunteers instrumental in the running of the 1996 Olympics sailing venue. We are also pleased to have produced six certified US SAILING Level I instructors, five of whom (will soon) be certified at Level II, as well.

AYC is proud of its solid governing organization, its history of keeping a balanced budget and its success in remaining true to the traditions envisioned by its founders. While clubs all around us are seeing their one-design fleets diminished by the popularity of large motorboats and cruising sailboats, our members' common purpose is loyalty to small boat sailing, ensuring that it will continue to flourish at Atlanta Yacht Club for a long time to come.

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