As with any successful organization, ESSA's notable progress in its first years of existence has been due to the efforts of many dedicated individuals. It has indeed been fortunate that so many members have contributed their time and energy to creating a club which enhances the leisure time of sailing enthusiasts all over the Eastern Shore. Since ESSA has completed its first decade, it is interesting to look back on its evolution since its founding in 1974.
1974 saw the birth of the organization with 76 charter members and the drafting of the by-laws. It offered an ambitious schedule of weekend cruising and racing for both the Tangier and Choptank sailors. From April through November there was something planned almost every weekend. This was the year of the first rendezvous with the Southern Maryland Sailing Association at Placid Harbor, the Crab Feast at Dames Quarter, participation in the Deal Island Labor Day races, the United States Power Squadron rendezvous at Mollies Point, and the Oyster Roast at Whittaker's Boat Yard. A mimeographed newsletter was sent out to members including a calendar, roster, sailing instructions. race brochures, etc.
1975 ESSA's second year, membership grew to 137 with over 100 boats represented. Using the Portsmouth handicapping system, a total of 40 boats began the Wednesday night racing series in Cambridge, competing for a high point trophy. Also the first Choptank Fall Series was held, and 75 boats competed in a Frostbite Series in Choptank and Tangier.
With so much racing, a Race Committee was established. Both the Choptank and Tangier sailors started having dinner meetings to socialize during non-sailing months. The big social events were the first Change of Watch at the Salisbury Elks Home and the first Awards Banquet at the Seaford Country Club. In order to participate in the SMSA Invitational and other Bay races, several boats obtained Delta ratings. An informal race was added to Memorial Day Cruise to the Patuxent River along with an Independence Day Cruise to the Rappahannock. This year also saw the first ESSA boats represented in the USPS District 5 Sail Regatta.
1976 The country's bicentennial year and the Tall Ships rendezvous in Baltimore was also a significant year in ESSA's growth with the club's incorporation and a membership of 159. Notably, the first yearbook - combining roster, calendar, sailing instructions and boat listings by rating, call number and name - was distributed to members. Winter meetings with educational programs were begun. Fleet Captains for Tangier and Choptank, which previously had been appointed, were elected. Also, ESSA began to look at broadening its scope by applying for membership in both CBYRA and USYRU, keeping in mind its "increasingly active" Delta group. Along with such sophistication came the first computerized race results and the need for a Rating Committee in addition to the first Ladies Races in Cambridge.
The old "Steering Committee" came to be referred to as the "Bridge".
1977 with dues still at $5, ESSA continued to add a long list of firsts to its credit: the Memorial Day Invitational, the youth sail training program in conjunction with the Cambridge Yacht Club, the Protest Committee, the Cruising Committee and the Racing Committee. In addition, the newsletter editor and staff became separate from the secretary while the yearbook graduated from the mimeograph machine to a printer. With the advent of probationary CBYRA membership, many members began to participate in CBYRA racing events. Furthermore, the Ladies Races boasted a total of 14 participants. Cruising took a new turn with the first Commodore's Cruise Week.
At the Awards Banquets, many new trophies were presented: the Competitive Cup, the Captain's Cup, the Delta High Point Trophy, the ESSA Cruising Award, the Meritorious Service Award, the Founding Commodore's Blue Water Cup and the Wooden Boat Award.
1978 saw some major changes in the schedule - nominations were made in September for the election in October, and the Awards Banquet was moved back to November. That way, the new Bridge could take over in January. A racing fee of $5 was established to help defray the cost of trophies. To illustrate the great popularity of racing, there were almost 50 boats for the Memorial Day Invitational; furthermore, informal Sunday races were continued into September and October. Also, it was in this year that the newsletter was given its name: TELLTALE.
1979 was the year that dues had to be raised to $7.50, still a comparative bargain anywhere. The Commodore's Cruise was more ambitious, featuring a circumnavigation of Delmarva. AS cruising was more ambitious, featuring a circumnavigation of Delmarva. As cruising became more popular, two cruise directors were appointed - one for Choptank and one for Tangier. A revival of Tangier racing was attempted with races scheduled out of Jackson Harbor.
1980 As inflation continued its climb, both the Initiation Fee and the membership dues were increased to $10 while the racing fee was raised to 15 to cover the cost of the added number of trophies awarded. With more boats racing, the Choptank Fleet voted to divide into two classes, PHRF spinnaker and Portsmouth. Also, the Cambridge group experimented with a monthly awards dinner for each series.
Another new event for the Choptank Fleet was the Championship Series in which racers competed for the best of four races on a Saturday and Sunday. In the cruising department, 30 ESSA members got together and chartered boats in the Virgin Islands. Capping the accomplishments of the year was having the newsletter done by a printer.
1981 was the time for the first Choptank River Revelry Cruise/Race and also the first Octoberfest at Long Wharf. In addition, one of the CBYRA Race Week events ended at Cambridge, bringing over a hundred bay racers to converge on the finish line outside the City Dock. During the Fall Series, a new system, known as the ESSA rating, was developed and used experimentally for local racing.
1982 was the year of the huge increase in membership with the formation of the Ocean City Fleet and the resulting enlargement of the calendar to include its racing, cruising and social activities, plus another Fleet Captain added to the Bridge. ESSA also continued to grow in its offering of activities: a booth in the Salisbury Jaycee Boat Show, the Transpeake ESSA's sanctioned CBYRA invitational), the Fun-in-the-Sun-Regatta in Ocean City, and the Michelob Cup (Ocean City Regatta). Although there was growth in many areas, this was the last year of the Ladies Races due to a lack of participants. However, to compensate for this area of inactivity, the Sail Training Program was begun at Ocean Pines with 14 students being taught by one of ESSA's own young sailors. Another area of revival was found in the Tangier Fleet with regularly scheduled (and Attended) Thursday night races and numerous cruises. The use of the ESSA handicapping system was adopted for all regular fleet races. Special events included the Tall Ships' visit to Lewes and the Pride of Baltimore's stopover in Salisbury.
1983 included sill more firsts: the Tangier Michelob Cup, the South Moon Under Cup at Ocean City, and a joint cruise to Chincoteague with the Delaware Capes Sailing Club. Meanwhile, the Sail Training Program expanded with more lessons and sponsorship at Ocean Pines with a total of 36 students.
1984 ESSA successfully managed its own system of PHRF handicapping. The Commodore's Cruise to Tom's Cove, Chincoteague, was the most successful cruise of the season. With over 30 participants, the South Moon Under Cup became a major racing event. In addition, a new race, the Ocean City Offshore Triangle, was added to the list of events.
1985 saw ESSA continuing an active racing schedule in three fleets. Organized cruising was a little more limited with two highlights being the Commodore Cruise to Inner Harbor and the 3rd annual cruise to Tom's Cove, Chincoteague. The Sail Training Program held at Ocean Pines was highly successful. ESSA's future plans are to continue to promote the appreciation of sailing through a wide variety of activities throughout the year, adding or deleting as the needs of the membership change.
1986 was a transitional year for ESSA. Ocean City organized an active Snipe fleet and Tangier added many new members. The Choptank fleet is preparing to build for 1987 with the addition of a novice non-spinnaker class and the establishment of a Penguin fleet. Many officers and committee leaders stepped down for a well-deserved rest. The new bridge is enthusiastic, so 1987 should be an excellent year.
1987 A year that was one of further growth for ESSA, increasing its membership through the active involvement of a dedicated Bridge. The year got off to a great start, with nine of the clubs twelve past commodores gracing the Change of Watch.
This was a year for sailors, and it began with the 26th meeting for the America's Cup off Freemantle, Australia. Dennis Conner in "Stars and Stripes" successfully challenged New Zealand's "Kiwi Magic", bringing the cup back home after our loss to Australia in 1983. This helped pick up the pace for each of ESSA's three fleets as they started meeting early in the year for the coming season's activities. ESSA also held two sailing seminars in all three fleets as well as early cruises to favorite spots around the bay. There were covered dish dinners in Tangier, the Penguin Regatta in Cambridge and the Snipe fleet in Ocean City began construction on a hoist for its members. The racing season began in earnest in May, and the Cambridge fleet added a non-spinnaker class this year. Then came the Transpeake on the Choptank, the Fun in the Sun and the Snip Regattas in Ocean City and the many organized cruises in Tangier. The yearbook, one of ESSA's biggest, was distributed in June to a record number of members; and the Telltale was regularly distributed throughout the year, both possible due to their excellent editors and staffs as well as contributions by many ESSA members. As we headed into the fall after a bust sailing season, the Captain's Cup Regatta was held in Crisfield, the Annual Skipjack / ESSA Classic in Deal Island in September, and the Choptank Cup in October. The awards banquet was well attended in November and the new bridge for 1988 was elected in the last general meeting in December. As we looked back on 1987, it was truly a year of resurgence for ESSA, made possible by a hard working bridge and an active membership that help the ESSA spirit stay alive.
1988 was a continuation of a great 1987 season. The Bivalve Fleet grew in size and activity to rival the Choptank. Racing was consistent on Wednesday and Thursday nights; cruising / racing was available almost every weekend. The CBYRA Transpeake was dropped after 1988 due insufficient yachts, but Ocean City had Ocean Commotion to take its place in 1989. South Moon Under, Caribbean winter cruise, Labor Day and Snipes rounded out the year.
Finally, we lost past Commodore Walter Hastings; he will be missed.
1990 A banner year for ESSA. Exciting racing and great get-togethers proved to be a winning combination for an enjoyable year. Meeting every month, the Bridge implemented racing and cruising activities using a budget and energized committees.
The Crisfield fleet had it's first scheduled racing series, completing 8 races out of Somers Cove. Crisfield also hosted the Round Tangier Regatta and the Captain's Cup race. With 16 members and a growing interest in sailing at Crisfield, this new fleet exemplifies ESSA's commitment to promote sailing activities.
Ocean City returned to PHRF racing, completing a 4 race series. As host for the Ocean Commotion Regatta, Ocean City with help form the other fleets, conducted a multi-class series with over 40 participants.
The Tangier Fleet showed how a group effort to promote sailing fun can be successful when it hosted the "Fun In The Sun" Regatta in September. 12 boats, Sailors of all ages, and good weather combined to make this event a highlight for the year. Another change in 1990 was the Choptank Cup restored to it's historical place on ESSA's calendar. The Choptank Cup was envisioned by it's sponsor to be the season's "last hurrah" before winter lay-up. Both Tangier and Choptank fleets completed a 4 series race schedule.
The annual Awards Banquet was held in November at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club. ESSA recognized 2 corporate sponsors; Atlantic National Bank of Ocean City, sponsor of the Ocean Commotion Regatta, and PepsiCo/Arby's of Salisbury, sponsor of the Round Tangier Regatta.
1991 The usual fanfare of the Change of Watch began yet another year for ESSA. the cold winter season was broken with the thought of summer with a seminar by author, William H. Shellenberger; "Cruising the Chesapeake", A Gunkholer's Guide.
The brave hard-core racers were invited to test their skill with the first races of the Cape Cod Frosties! Through the great efforts of Deke Sheller this fleet of small boats was off to a great start.
ESSA became a "Cooperative Group Member of BOAT US", entitling us to a wide range of services and a half cost membership fee.
Ocean Commotion was a great success in August. The Round Tangier Regatta had its 2nd race. The weekly racing continued to be full of fun and camaraderie. The Labor Day Captain's Cup had a good turn out and to finish racing up for ESSA, a foggy but memorable Choptank Cup.
It was a special year for one of our members; Past Commodore Jim Schneider and crew) for CBYRA's IMS Division 3 Highpoint and for winning the Governor's Cup.
1993 The season was ushered in at the Change of Watch held at Salisbury State University. Monthly Bridge meetings were also held on campus in the Public Safety building.
Weekly evening racing (4 series , each consisting of 4 races) was offered at 3 venues from May thru August. Crisfield fleet raced on Tuesday, with Cambridge on Wednesday, and Tangier on Thursdays. The Cambridge fleet added 14 new windward/leeward courses.
Crisfield fleet hosted the 3rd Round Tangier Regatta on July 4th, and the Captains Cup Regatta on September 5th. Cambridge fleet offered the Wild Goose Chase with McGuigan's Pub as sponsor on September 11th, utilizing a staggered start (handicaps deducted in advance). The Choptank Cup was raced on October 16th. ESSA was well represented on the Bay racing c ircuit once again this year with major accomplishments by Jim Schneider Moonshine), Mike Kelly (Dark Rapture), Bill Wade (Evolution), and Joe Botkin (Nepenthe). And in spite of rumors to the contrary, their respective crews did render some assistance. The Awards Banquet was hosted by the Crisfield Fleet in the Tawes Museum at Somers Cove Marina.
1994 found ESSA a slightly smaller - but still very active - club with 120 members and 75 vessels active in 3 fleets: Choptank, Tangier, and Crisfield. Winter sailing in Frosties on the Wicomico River has become an annual event, as has summer Sundays, using SSU's 9 boat fleet of Flying Juniors.
And again, Jimmy Schneider (Moonshine) upheld the honor of ESSA by taking 1st place at both CBYRA Race Week (Annapolis), AND the Race to Solomon's.
The Choptank Fleet held a week-end Ladies Race (yes, the ladies were the skippers - any guys were just crew). 4 boats were entered, and the competition was Fierce, with Lynne Armiger taking 3 bullets on Evolution.
Better look out guys, the ladies are coming for us.
1999 Was the 25th year of ESSA. It is fitting that this issue of the yearbook is dedicated Stedman Smith, one of ESSA's founding members. Still sailing at 86, he is an inspiration to all of us. We are proud to be part of what Stedman, Jim Hillman, Don McShane and Deke Sheller started 25 years ago. It is also appropriate to note that while Jim Hillman has passed on, Don McShane is still cruising and Deke Sheller is still racing with ESSA, as will be noted in this history, Deke and his Tanzer 22 are a force to be reckoned with.
The last few years have been a struggle for ESSA. 1996-1999 was a time in which the organization almost failed. Declining participation, the collapse of the Crisfield fleet and lives busy at things other than sailing, conspired to put ESSA at risk. We can thank retiring commodore Keith Henry and his executive committee: Mike Kelly, Deke Sheller, Mary Kay Long, Tim Mulcahy and Terry Cohen for stepping forward to take the reins. They managed to not only salvage the organizational structure; but thanks to their and everyone's enthusiasm, started ESSA on a growth trend, again. Many thanks are due to dedicated members who put forth their efforts, and provided the historical knowledge to help keep ESSA alive.
And we did see growth! Despite being down to only a non-spinnaker class in the Choptank fleet the decline seems to have bottomed out. Tangier fleet's participation grew. By the end of the season, the Tangier fleet races were averaging 9 boats with more indicated for next year. The people who remained and have recently joined are hard core, too. Despite low attendance numbers, the Choptank fleet raced five full series this year, with over half the boats showing up right to the end of the last series, which didn't end until mid October.
Overall, it was a hot, humid and windless summer. Many races were drifters, right into the fall classics. For example the Wild Goose Chase was finally won by Reveille at 4:30 in the afternoon. Reveille came from behind to edge out Lolly for an exciting finish. Mostly, though it was slow going. It was a 9.5 mile course that started at 10:00 am. (average 1.46 kts boat speed for the winner.) Ouch. We should have an endurance award for every finisher on that one.
The Choptank Cup, which has been treated to 18-20 kt winds for the last two years was a light air - wing and wing drifter this year. Both Ways. As it turned out, about a mile before the downwind mark, the wind switched 180 degrees, so after a short beat, the intrepid racers came back to Cambridge, still wing and wing.
Lolly took first in the Choptank Cup, again in 1999. That's two out of the last three years Deke Sheller and crew have won the travelling Choptank Cup. Lolly is continuing to enhance the reputation of Tanzer 22s in ESSA. (Bob Gordon's Tanzer 22, Paper Doll, swept the labor day weekend races last year.) Or perhaps it's just the skill of the fellows doing battle in these dynamo boats...
Heat, humidity and Light winds describe the summer of 1999. With the exception that is, of the Labor Day weekend races at Deal Island. In Deal, racers were treated to wonderful winds created by a strong New England high pressure system that kept Hurricane Dennis at bay off the coast of North Carolina. Winds the night before the Captain's cup were in the high 30's gusting to over 40 kts. But, by noon on Sunday, wind speeds had moderated enough to race an abbreviated course in the lee of Deal Island.
Skippered by Stedman Smith, it was entirely fitting that Sansted won the the Captain's cup in the 25th year of ESSA. Sansted finished the 12.5 mile course in 1:53, narrowly beating Paper Doll, the defending champion.
On Labor day, The 40th running of the Chance Lions Club Skipjack Races were run in similar conditions which had four foot rollers at the less protected end of Deal Island. It was a 13 mile windward leeward course in which the small field once again did battle. Finishing in an hour forty eight, The Write Byte took first place to Sansted's Second, and Paper Doll's Third.
1998 And 1999 Choptank and Tangier Fleet race series results are posted elswhere in this publication. In CBYRA races this year, Keith Henry's Sea Fever and Bob Dickey's Touche both participated in the Governor's Cup in of all things, light winds. Jerry Potter and Greg Kramer, partners in Temptation, participated in the Night Race to Solomon's Island. Despite blowing out a jib and popping a jib sheet, Temptation managed third place in one of the few races to have wind this year.
It was a good year, and with continuing enthusiasm and excitement, we can continue helping ESSA grow; enhancing our enjoyment of this glorious thing we call sailing.
2000 In 2000, we moved to the web. Weekly race results and pictures were published to the new web page so everyone could stay on top of their current standings and share the pictures being taken.
2001 This year saw ESSA with its first female Commodore, Mary Kay Noren-Long. Mary Kay saw ESSA through one of the organizations toughest years. Not only ESSA, but sailing in general was struggling to entice new and younger participants. The Choptank Fleet raced an abbreviated schedule with mixed results in a non-spinnaker class, while the Tangier Fleet continued its enthusiastic race schedule out of Cedar Hill Park. Some new boats attended several races and the prospects look good in gaining some new members in the future. The Awards Banquet was combined with the Change of Watch and was attended by an enthusiastic crowd at Legends. Bob Dickey presented an entertaining and informative slide show on his off-shore experiences.
2002 The biggest news of 2002 was membership in ESSA started to rebound. Although the Choptank Fleet struggled with committee boat duties, the racers were enthusiastic about their race schedule. Three series were completed between May and September with as many as 12 boats competing. The Tangier Fleet completed four series with up to 12 boats on the starting line. It was not unusual for this group to complete two races in an evening before gathering at Boonies Restaurant for dinner and stories (lies). ESSA tried to help a struggling sailing club at Salisbury University which was coached by our Commodore, Del Walter. Eventually this program succumbed to budget cuts by the University. ESSA was a direct beneficiary of this program with many of the student sailors participating as crew on our Wednesday and Thursday night races. ESSA received a huge boost this year from Howard Allwine as editor of our newsletter - the “TELLTALE”. By producing a timely publication the members were kept informed of events and results which greatly helped in keeping the association together. The newsletter was available by e-mail as well as an extensive mailing to current and past members. The year concluded with the largest participation at our Awards Banquet in many years. This function was held on a Friday evening at Brew River Restaurant and drew most members, some past members, including our Founding Commodore Don McShane, and some new members who joined that evening.