Edgewood Yacht Club’s history began 138 years ago, in 1885, when a group of twelve families erected bathhouses on Cranston’s short waterfront and created the Edgewood Boat Club. In 1889, the name was changed to the Edgewood Yacht Club, and we use that year for the official founding date of the club—making 2023 the 135th season at EYC. EYC was incorporated with the State of Rhode Island in 1902. Its first clubhouse, built in 1905 partly on land and partly on water, was destroyed by fire in 1908. It was almost immediately rebuilt to a design by Murphy, Hindle & Wright, with the new clubhouse ready for use on Opening Day in May 1909. The 1908 clubhouse survived many hurricanes, including most notably the 1938 and 1954 storms. But in blizzard conditions on a January night in 2011, that magnificent clubhouse was destroyed by fire. Over the next 5 years, a group of committed EYC members, led by now Past Commodores Jeff Lanphear, Marie DeRoche, and Wayne Kezirian, planned for the new clubhouse, on which construction began in 2016. In partnership with Brown University, EYC opened this new building, under the leadership of Past Commodore Flo Spenard, in May 2018. The Edgewood Yacht Club clubhouse and the Ted Turner ’60 Brown University Sailing Pavilion now stands—red-roofed and on pilings in the Edgewood Basin like its predecessor—as a testament to the fortitude and commitment of the generations of members who have called EYC home.
Yet EYC’s history has always been the history of its members and boats as much as the history of its clubhouse. From notable early Narragansett Bay racing catboats like the Flint Brothers’ Wanderer IV, to knockabouts, Indians, Snipes, S-Boats, Ensigns, Snipes, Vikings, and Sunfish, EYC has seen many classes and types of boats from its perch over the Edgewood Basin. And of course, there have been EYC’s Beetle Cats, a fleet with a home at EYC for most of the 102-year history of the class, including years when more than 50 Beetles were berthed at EYC and when the youth program was Beetle-centered. Thousands of sailors have learned to sail and race at EYC, with many sailors going beyond EYC to find racing success at college and in geographies well beyond the Edgewood Basin.
Since the late 1940s, EYC’s sailing instruction program has been operated by the Edgewood Sailing School, which today is a separate non-profit entity providing lessons to scores of youth and adult students each year in its larger-boat Rhodes 19 fleet and in its smaller-boat C420 and Optimist fleets. As early as the 1920s, the Brown University Sailing Team sailed from EYC, followed by the Moses Brown Sailing Team in the 1970s. These valued partnerships with EYC have sustained EYC over a century and continue to be an important part of life at EYC.
Today, you will hear laughter and music from the EYC clubhouse on a summer Friday evening in the same way you might have decades ago. You will see Sunfish sailing in the Frozen Few fleet in the winter, carrying on a frostbiting tradition at EYC that dates back over the better part of a century when ice boats were included in the fleet. You will see families on the water, kids in sailing lessons, and powerboats headed off for a quick daytrip to Potters Cove or a week of island-hopping. You will find members volunteering to repair docks, work on boats, and keep EYC running for this and future generations. You will get the sense of a club that values tradition, collegiality, seamanship, and sportsmanship. You will experience a place that transcends time. May it always be so.
George W. Shuster, Jr., PC 2020, Archivist 2021-2023