As with any successful organization, ESSA’s notable progress in its first years of existence was 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 that enhances the leisure time of sailing enthusiasts all over the Eastern Shore.
In 2024 ESSA will have been a club promoting sailing for 50 years!
Following is a yearly synopsis of those years starting back 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 combined roster, calendar, sailing instructions, and boat listings by rating, call number and name, was distributed to members. Winter meetings with
educational programs had 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. The Commodore’s Cruise 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 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, Deleware and the Pride of Baltimore’s stopover in Salisbury.
1983 included still 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 was a year 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 Snipe 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. Sadly, we lost past Commodore Walter Hastings; he will be missed.
1990 was 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 its 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 from 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. Twelve 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 its historical place on ESSA’s calendar. The Choptank Cup was envisioned by its 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. Ocean City returned to PHRF racing, completing a 4 race series. As host for the Ocean Commotion Regatta, Ocean City with help from the other fleets, conducted a multi-class series with over 40 participants.
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 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 aboard “Moonshine”,for winning 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. 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 circuit 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 was dedicated to Stedman Smith, one of ESSA’s founding members. Still sailing at 86, he was 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 is still 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 Noren-Long, Tim Fuhrmann 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 traveling 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 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 was 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. 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 This was the year 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 organization’s 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 Alwine 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 news letter 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.
2003 saw E.S.S.A. continue its upward momentum with increased membership and racing participation. The year started with record numbers attending the Change of Watch held at Green Hill Yacht and Country Club and the awards banquet held at Brew River. Both events were moved to Friday night which helped boost attendance. Several new members joined the association at our awards banquet and immediately became active contributors to the club’s events and programs. An effort was made to include cruising with the major racing weekends which resulted in cruisers from the Choptank Fleet attending and participating in the Captain’s Cup held in Deal Island. The Tangier Fleet responded by supporting the Choptank Cup held later in Cambridge. Both events helped bring the two fleets closer together.
The “Telltale” remained the mainstay holding the association together and was compiled, edited and published by the capable group of Howard Alwine, Cindy Houghtaling and Melissa Wilson. Without their commitment ESSA would have struggled for continuity. After an absence of eight years, ESSA’s year book was published and distributed in 2003. This was a priority of Commodore Deke Sheller and was brought to fruition by Ken Kundell and Jim Hillman. The Bridge made a commitment to publish a yearbook every two years with a supplement in between. Racing continued to flourish in both fleets with two, nine race series in the Choptank Fleet and the Tangier Fleet. Each fleet boasted as many as 14 boats on the starting line some nights. Overall Choptank Fleet honors went to Paul and Kristin West sailing “Adventure Kwest” and Deke Sheller taking overall honors in Tangier Fleet aboard “Lolly”. “Lolly” also won the Choptank Cup, Del Walter won the Captain’s Cup aboard “Rhumb Line” & Bob Dickey was presented the ESSA Blue Water Award aboard “Touche”.
2004 New Year’s Eve was the definitive reminder that the sailing season was over; the last days of 2004 were marked with day sails to the boatyards, or pleasure cruises on the rivers. It was a very successful year for ESSA. There were many cruises and plenty of races on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I inherited from Deke one of the best ESSA Bridges that I can remember over the past 30 years. Deke started Bridge meetings on the first Tuesday of every month, maintained a strict adherence to our Founding Commodores’ By-Laws, maintained his annual Labor Day Races, and created a new anniversary yearbook.
Tim Fuhrmann started the ESSA website in 2000, Jim Hillman coordinated the website growth with Ken Kundell, and then both turned the entire operation back to Tim. Thanks to hundreds of volunteer man-hours, ESSA is now examined by thousands of visitors every month. Larry Rossi compiled a large notebook containing all of the information a person would need to conduct a Choptank race. He included charts, courses, GPS locations, starting sequences, race forms, and a Race Committee bag replete with flags, watches, bullhorn, and a microprocessor. Then, Larry built club buoys, and placed them on the Choptank. After that, Larry fired up the grill, cooked burgers for the fleet, and Gerry coordinated more than we will ever know. Dave Stapleford printed the race instructions for Bivalve, organized racing and cruising events throughout the year, created beautiful ESSA membership cards with the help of Leslie McColgan, and pumped a lot of energy into the fleet. Dave is always filled with information, and continues to be a valuable resource for the Nanticoke area.
Kristin West not only kept meticulous minutes of every meeting, but also managed to race with her husband, Paul, at Oxford, Cambridge, and Annapolis. She maintained an up to date membership roster that was always available to those in need. Somehow, she found the time to produce embroidered wearing apparel for ESSA, and start a sail-training program for newcomers. She and Paul created pictures, posters and tri-fold advertising about ESSA that were placed in various commercial venues.
Cindy Houghtaling produced, what many considered to be, the best Telltale newsletters ever. She juggled schedules with work, school, sailing, and family to keep ESSA informed. Her newsletters along with fleet e-mails and the website, pushed every ESSA member into the “information age” of past, current, and future events.
Jill Stephenson created a 2 page Race Form to explain how ESSA derived club ratings. It has become a “Rosetta Stone” not only to the Bridge, but also to our racing members. Her quiet assistance was invaluable.
It was the collective efforts of these people that created the following milestones in 2004:
Thanks to all for a job well done. Bruce Franz, 2004
2006 While the Eastern Shore Sailing Association has been in existence for over 30 years, our membership growth had been somewhat flat. After examining the situation, the Bridge realized our membership growth was not keeping up with the growth of the new residents of the Salisbury and Cambridge sailing communities. Many of the new residents of the Shore did not even realize ESSA existed. Therefore a promotional campaign was begun to increase the awareness of our organization to the area sailors. A major part of the promotional effort was provided by a billboard advertisement site donated by Clear Channel Outdoor Advertising as part of their community service commitment. Following the Clear Chanel offer, several of our talented members took a recent sailing photo and turned it into a first class billboard. In addition, the same text copy was used in creating flyers, banners and the logo for our new and improved website. Also, members of the fleet contacted boat owners in several local marinas and provided them with the ESSA informational flyer. The flyer was even placed in the visitors’ centers in Wicomico, Somerset and Dorchester counties. In addition, due to the effort of one of our members, we were the subject of a WBOC news clip that highlighted a Thursday evening race of the Tangier Fleet. The net result of our effort was to increase membership by over 30% from a base of about 60 to an end of the year membership count of over 100 members. Many of our new members have already made major contributions to our organization in both participation and leadership. Based on this success, ESSA is alive and well, ready to carry on the 33 year old tradition of racing, cruising and good fellowship. Please join us in 2007; we would love to have your aboard! John Motsko, 2006
2007 Membership and participation continued to increase this year. Cambridge had exceptional growth with as many as 13 boats at the starting line with several flying spinnakers. The Tangier fleet fin keel Tanzers did one design races with excellent participation and close finishes; almost every boat came in first at least once. The PHRF fleet struggled without the Tanzers, but prospects for the future look better. Tough competition was observed in Cambridge and Tangier. Numerous cook outs were held by both fleets after their weekly races, which everyone enjoyed. Participation in the Cup races was excellent, though several races suffered from lack of wind. In addition to the ESSA races we had several boats that participated in CBYRA races this year, including the Governor’s Cup. ESSA promoted a bareboat cruise to the British Virgin Islands in January 2008. A 50’ monohull was charted and filled with ESSA members and friends; our first such endeavor. It was a good year. Betsy Cottingham, 2007
2008 Membership and participation were at good levels continuing from the year before. The Choptank fleet had an exciting racing season with the wind dying predictably at 7 PM. The Tangier one design fleet continued to thrive as the PHRF fleet struggled with low participation. Fun it the Sun was held in the Cedar Hill Park with excellent attendance. The awards ceremony was held in annex building of the Suicide Bridge restaurant. We concluded the activities that year with the Change of Watch being held at Salisbury University. The club shifted to the Commodore leadership of Gene Williams. Ken Kundell, 2008
2009 As in every year, ESSA began with the Change of Watch ceremony. The 2009 Bridge comprised Gene Williams, Commodore; Paul Hull, Vice Commodore, Neill Carey, Treasurer; Andrea Beauchamp, secretary; Roy Sarraf, Tangier Fleet Captain; and Hans Schultz, Choptank Fleet Captain. Larry Moser took over editorship of the Tell Tale. Membership was high with more than 200 names on the roster. On the Nanticoke, racing in the one design Tanzer fleet continued to be exciting and competitive with many races finishing with first place to fourth place separations measured in seconds. The PHRF fleet continued to grow and had a enjoyable year of racing. Racing on the Choptank also continued to thrive with the addition of several new boats and competitors, and the continuance of their cup races, the Stedman Smith Cup and the Choptank Cup. This was the year the Tangier Fleet initiated the “Tuesday Evening Buoy Crawl”. The event became very popular among racers, cruisers, and day sailors alike. In 2009 ESSA also initiated a billboard advertising campaign under the guidance of past Commodore Betsy Cottingham and future Commodore John Womack. ESSA continued its tradition of sailing for the Captain’s Cup the day before the Skipjack Races and then racing with the Skipjacks on Labor Day. At year’s end, ESSA leadership was passed forward to the new Commodore, Paul Hull. Gene Williams, 2009
2010 Participation was encouraging in the Cambridge Fleet under the able stewardship of Greig Mitchell. Emphasis was on fun rather than super serious racing. The Tangier OD Fleet thrived with an average of 7 boats on the starting line. The use of a second race, when available, proved very popular and afforded valuable practice time for both fleets with a more exciting starting line for the PHRF fleet. As in the past, the rock star of the show in Tangier were the after race events at Boonies. The adage that “you don’t have to win but you have to go to Boonies” seemed to fit. A number of OD issues were solidified with the help of Vice Commodore John Womack. John also promoted, and served as chief Burger Meister, for the very successful Fun in the Sun events. Paul Hull, 2010
2011 By all accounts, it was a very good year in all areas of sailing interests to our members. There was good cruising, good racing, and good family fun days for all members to enjoy. On the cruising side, ESSA started out with a Cruising Around the Delmarva Peninsula webinar organized and hosted by Linda and Greig Mitchell, Choptank Fleet Captains. From this webinar, a spring cruise was planned with ESSA boats IF, Greig & Linda Mitchell, and Water Colors, Jerry Gerlitzki, completing the rounding in early June. ESSA’s Tangier Fleet also enjoyed several afternoon cruises to Roaring Point with members enjoying warm afternoon breezes down to the sandy beach, followed by a couple of hours of swimming, bottom cleaning, and good finger nibbles before enjoying the evening breezes on the return.
Wednesday and Thursday night races were blessed with good weather and many boats enjoying some very spirited competition. Under Greig Mitchell’s enthusiasm, the Choptank Fleet grew to its largest number in years with 6 to 7 or more boats on the line. The Tangier Fleet also fielded two very competitive classes, PHRF and Tanzer 22 One Design. The Tanzer 22 class races came down to the very last race to decide 1st and 2nd overall places with less than a point separating the finishers. ESSA special racing started out strong with 6 boats and 21 skippers and crew competing in the Steadman Smith Cup in early June with all enjoying a good sail to Oxford followed by a delicious lunch at the Tred Avon Yacht Club. This was followed by the Labor Day weekend Captain’s Cup, organized by Deke Sheller. Five boats enjoyed 15 knot breezes for an absolutely delightful race from Bivalve to Deal Island. ESSA’s Choptank Cup in October finished out our special races after a 1 day delay to see the race sail under sunny skies and 10-15 knot breezes. All boats finished the 31 nautical mile course out to Sharp Island Light and back.
ESSA’s Small Boat Days continued to be a great family outing at Wetipquin Park with Lasers, Sunfishes, Dyer Dinks and other small boats buzzing around the cove and out into the river. ESSA members from kids on up came out to enjoy good company, good food, and yes good sailing. ESSA finished up the fun sailing, and the 2011 sailing season, with the Grey Goose and Gosling fun races. Both sailed under unbelievable sunny warm fall conditions. Many thanks go to the Motskos and the Gordons for hosting the after race parties that capped off perfect afternoons of racing. ESSA ended the 2011 year with 50 plus members attending the November Awards Dinner. Such great attendance was just another example of the enthusiasm of the ESSA membership in enjoying all of the sailing we are so blessed to have on the Chesapeake Bay. John Womack, 2011
2013 and 2014 Over this period ESSA continued its growth and development becoming unquestionably the strongest and most active sailing association on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Membership continued to grow and expand. Most notably the Choptank Fleet led by Captain Dave Buchanan (2011-2014) and Co-Captain Tom Jackson (2014) experienced a surge in members resulting in nearly 20 boats participating in Wednesday Night races and greater participation in traditional weekend special event races. In addition, a spinnaker class was added in 2014 with a majority of the fleet now participating in that class. Also in 2014, we were fortunate to have Ron Freund on Red Sky volunteer to serve as permanent committee boat improving race management and relieving competitors of that responsibility. The races were made even more enjoyable by Tim Fuhrmann who continued to take excellent photographs of the competition and share them on-line.
The membership and participation of the Tangier fleet lead by Captains Del Walter (2013) and Deke Sheller (2014) continued strong in both the Tanzer 22 One Design class and the PHRF class. Half of the 12 registered racers participate in each class. The fleet continued to sponsor the annual Captain’s Cup Race in conjunction with the Deal Island Labor Day Skip Jack race and two post season unofficial races known as the Grey Goose and the Gosling.
Non-racing and social activities were also an important part of ESSA activities. The 2013 Awards Dinner was held in Cambridge for the first time in many years. It was extremely well attended including families with young children. On three dates each summer, the Tangier Fleet sponsored Small Boat Sundays at Tyaskin Park. There, members brought small sail boats to share and enjoy a day of sailing, swimming, and picnicking. Vice Commodore Chris Wilde organized these events which were well attended. In 2013 and 2014, the Association restored an earlier tradition by holding an annual crab picnic each August. These events were sponsored by the Choptank Fleet, and hosted by Tom and Mary Ann Moore at their lovely home on the bank of the Choptank River. The Association also established partnerships with the East Port Yacht Club near Annapolis and the Cambridge Yacht Club, enabling members to use club facilities with their reinstated identification cards. Indeed, the Cambridge Yacht Club now hosts an after race dinner at least once each month during the racing season.
Not having a physical club house, the Association improved the use of the internet to enhance communication and share information. The web site was redesigned and expanded significantly to include a recruitment video produced by Larry Moser. An ESSA email account was established to better manage contact data and more effectively distribute information such as the TellTale newsletter. The Association’s forty year old By-Laws were revised to allow better use of modern technology and improve the efficiency and transparency of the officer election process. Additionally, the Association’s status as a Maryland Public Corporation was reestablished after a lapse of many years in order to assure the liability immunity of the state’s Volunteer Services Act. During this period, we were saddened by the deaths of several of our original or early members including Founding Commodore Donald McShane, Past Commodore Philip McKee, Hamilton Fox, William Hooper, and Joseph Botkin. Each contributed to the success of ESSA and is missed.
It has been my honor and privilege to serve as Commodore for these active two years, and I sincerely thank the many people who gave of their time, energy and talent to make ESSA so very successful, not the least of which were the elected and appointed members of the Bridge. I especially want to thank Bruce Franz who has for many years tirelessly served as Race Chairman and in any other capacity needed. In this the 40th year of its founding, it is clear that the future of ESSA remains bright. I look forward to continuing to serve this fine organization. Greig W. Mitchell 2013-2014
2015 – 2016 It was a privilege to serve as Commodore of the Eastern Shore Sailing Association these two years. I could not have done it without the help of the Bridge and, especially, the past Commodore, Greig Mitchell! As a sailor in both the Tangier and Choptank fleets, it was always rewarding to see all the boats on the water for the evening competition. The spinnaker fleet in Choptank has continued to grow and attract more sailors! Our PHRF fleet in Cambridge is small but dedicated! As several past commodores have pointed out, dying wind toward the end of the race is still a bugaboo! Tangier’s one design fleet is doing well and the PHRF fleet is holding its own. Having cookouts after the races, hosted by Barry Hall’s daughter, Heather, continue to be a highlight of the evening for boasting and exchanging stories.
Small boat day picinics at Tyaskin park have been well attended and another chance to visit. The opportunity to try one’s hand at smaller, less stable craft have proved daunting for some, but enjoyable for all! As Dave Buchanan takes the helm as Commodore, we look forward to his leadership and savior faire! (I also hope we can beat him up in the Choptank.) Christopher JD Wilde 2015-2016
2017 Both Choptank and Tangier fleets conducted very successful racing seasons. Wednesday nights on the Choptank saw both Spinnaker (10 boats) and Non-Spinnaker (11 boats) fleets racing, ably coordinated by Ron Freund and crew on committee boat “Red Sky.” Competition was spirited with PHRF adjusted finish times less than a minute apart for the typical 3 – 4 mile races. After race dinners rotated among Cambridge restaurants and the Cambridge Yacht Club. Tangier sailed a single PHRF fleet of 14 boats this year with both new and experienced skippers avoiding the rocks and each other (mostly.) After race cookouts by George and Viki Hochschwender, Leah Creswell, and Dustin Adams kept the fleet fed. Both fleets continued their longer “named” races: Choptank’s Steadman Smith Cup, Wild Goose Chase, Choptank Cup; Tangier’s Labor Day Captain’s Cup and Deal Island-Chance Lion’s Club PHRF race, Grey Goose and Gosling fun races and the popular Sunday “Small Boat Days.’
ESSA was represented in the 44th annual Governors Cup, a rough trip with 25 knot wind on the nose all night. About 40% of the boats racing from Annapolis to Historic St. Mary’s City dropped out. ESSA boats competing (and finishing!) were: “If,” skipper Greig Mitchell and “Touche’,” skipper Bob Dickey, who placed third in non-spin class. Electronic communication for ESSA business and news continued to grow through the updated essasailing.com website maintained by Greig Mitchell, the emailed TellTale, and a new blog essasailing.blogspot.com by George Breig, mainly for the Choptank Fleet.
ESSA members offshore: 1. Bruce Franz sailed with friends to Cuba from Marathon, Florida Keys on Jan 18 – 31. 2. Bob Dickey, Mark McIver, and Deke Sheller, sailed to Cuba in April on Dick Berman’s boat. 3. Ron Freund, Bruce Franz, and Mark McIiver delivered “Red Sky” from Key West to Cambridge in April/May. 4. Larry & Gerry Rossi sailed their “Galileo” to the Abacos. 5. Jerry Gerlitzki sailed “Water Color II” from Cambridge to Florida, to the Abacos, and back to Cambridge. Something new from Tangier was the first “Lady’s Day Race.” Sunday, October 1, had 11 boats with ladies at the helm. Most had not been on the helm before and certainly not in a race situation. Several had only been on a sailboat a few times. Wives, daughters, and friends were at the helm and all did a great job.
1 – Lolly – Ronda;
2 – Thistle – Suzanne;
3 – Thomas L. Sweeny – Leah;
4 – Puff Daddy – Judith;
5 – Rhumbline – Cindy, Sarah age 12, and Becky age 13;
6 – Crewroom – Autumn;
7 – Loulee – Hala;
8 – MarCat – Valerie;
9 – Ann Isotropy – Beth;
10 – Falcon – Vanessa;
11 – Wind Dance –Rosanne.
Congrats to all for an excellent job.
You are reading this in the 40th Edition of the ESSA Yearbook. Thanks to our many loyal advertisers over the years; please let them know you appreciate their support. Special thanks to Jerry Gerlitzki of Gerlitzki Design for both design and production of this edition. David Buchanan, 2017
2018 Wednesday night racing on the Choptank usually saw around 16-18 total boats in the spin and non-spin fleets. Thanks to Ron Freund and his crew on ‘Red Sky’ for permanent committee boat duty once again. The weather cooperated to allow for 17 of the 18 scheduled races to be completed. Elsewhere in this book award winners are listed for the weeknight and special weekend races of both fleets. The Choptank Wild Goose Chase pursuit race finished with an 11 minute time spread for the first three boats over the 14.5 nm course – pretty good job of setting staggered starting times. New for ESSA this year was the first “Underground Railroad Regatta” sponsored by the Richardson Maritime Museum in cooperation with Baltimore based Harvesting Hope Youth & Family Wellness, Inc. and the Marine Arts Workshop. After several days of learning about boat construction a group of Cambridge middle school students joined four ESSA boats for an afternoon on the Choptank; students taking turns at the helm and winches, culminating in two short ‘around the buoy’s’ races.
Tangier fleet started two weeks late due to weather delays in launching boats. This year they raced as a PHRF fleet, usually with a dozen or so boats at the starting line. The ‘ladies day’ race with all women at the helm was run for the second year. In addition to Thursday evening races, three successful small boat days were held with 30-40 attendees. Of the special weekend races, only the Captain’s Cup occurred (Dave Gooch –‘Puff Daddy’) bad weather cancelling the Gray Goose and Gosling. Nevertheless Bob and Sue Gordon hosted well attended parties for all events. There was no Governor’s Cup race this year due to storm debris in the Bay. Lee Beauchamp won the Founding Commodore’s Blue Water Cup sailing ‘Bold Spirit’ 1,280 nm offshore. Founding member, Bill Guy died December 6, 2018 at age 94. Active in ESSA for many years, Bill designed the ESSA Burgee – which we encourage you to fly from your boat. Fair winds and following seas. David Buchanan 2018.
2019 ESSA continues to grow with interest in the Fleet racing on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Going to time-on time scoring in Cambridge was received as a welcome option and allowed for an expanded selection of courses. Unfortunately, a tendency of the past several years of declining participation in the ESSA wide regattas such as the Choptank Cup, Captain’s Cup, Stedman Smith Cup and the Wild Goose Chase is disappointing. Other venues such as Small Boat Days, the Grey Goose and Gosling, however, remain popular due to the great social aspect of these functions. Our winter General Meetings remained popular with capacity attendance with interesting programs by Jonathan Bartlett of North Sales and Amanda Kurland of Cruise Annapolis. The year was topped off with the Awards Banquet at SU with another capacity crowd. Deke Sheller, 2019
2020 Started off for ESSA just like past years with the Change of Watch banquet and ceremony at Cambridge Yacht Club, which was attended by 35 members. We had well-attended general membership meetings in February at La Tolteca in Salisbury and in March at Canvasback in Cambridge with excellent presentations by Jonathan Bartlett on crew building (February) and Paul Hull on racing tactics (March). The new Bridge met in person a few times to plan the 2020 racing season. Then Covid hit. From May on, Bridge meetings were held via Zoom.
Restrictions from the State of Maryland prevented recreational sailing until mid-June. Fleet captains adjusted their regular racing schedules to accommodate the delay. Participation was down due to individual captains’ and crews’ decisions to limit their exposures to Covid, but both fleets had successful seasons, completing all three series by pushing them into the fall. Choptank Fleet had 8 boats racing non-spinnaker, and 4 boats racing spinnaker, about half of the usual fleet. Tangier Fleet had 7 boats racing in the Tanzer 22 one-design fleet, vs. 10 boats in 2019. Leah Creswell donated her boat Lollipop to be Committee Boat for the season at Tangier, permitting all 7 Tanzers in the one-design fleet to race each week.
Dottie Holoubek organized a new race intended for novice racers in the Choptank Fleet, the “Rum Runner.” Unfortunately, Small Boat Day activities had to be cancelled for both fleets due to restrictions on public gatherings. Both fleets completed all of their post-season special races. Instead of the traditional Awards Banquet, scaled-down awards ceremonies were done separately for each fleet, outside, and on short notice, aiming for decent December weather. Neill Carey, 2020
2021 Started out as a continuation of 2021, hunkered down hoping for the world to reopen. Sadly our January Change of Watch Dinner was not able to be held to properly acknowledge the fantastic job the 2020 Bridge did in guiding ESSA through the trials and tribulations that was 2020. ESSA though through the magic of the internet and Zoom managed to get our February and March general meetings underway. February’s meeting featured a talk by George Breig on planned cruising trips for ESSA and other groups along with some valuable cruising tips. The March meeting discussed the racing rules at the start and cruising the UK canals on a “narrow boat”. With an optimistic outlook the Bridge planned a full suite of sailing and social events for the group. Both fleets enjoyed a spirited Summer Racing season with 10 to 11 boats in the Tangier Fleet turning out Thursday evenings and both Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker fleets enjoying Wednesday evenings on the Choptank River. Intermixed in the summer racing members enjoyed two Small Boat gatherings at Tyaskin Park. Both fleets were also able to enjoy some delightful fall sailing with the Tangier Fleet’s Sunday afternoon Frostbite Series and the Choptank Fleet’s Wild Goose Chase and Choptank Cup. The fall sailing included some challenging winds building for the Choptank Cup. ESSA finished up 2021 with our annual Awards Dinner in November with members both celebrating the winners of our racing season and enjoying swapping sea stories. Betsy Cottingham & John Womack