2017 April Commodore Column: “Yes, Virginia, there is an Opening Day!”

It’s a big deal. It’s done all over the world. It’s been practiced for centuries. And, this May, you can be part of the greatest annual celebration on the planet. No, not the Super Bowl, not the Oscars, but Opening Day! We ain’t talking about that Johnny-come-lately baseball thing, either. We’re talking about yachting and the truly noble pursuit of fun on the water.

How did it all start? In 1720, the Royal Cork Yacht Club was founded. I know, Gerry, it happened in Ireland. Other clubs followed and, eventually, they began to celebrate the start of the boating season. This tradition remains with us today. Not every club observes Opening Day, but they should! The timing varies by region. Northern locales, like ours, practice the tradition in May. Areas with better weather, like San Francisco or Dallas, celebrate in April. South of the equator, the season opens in October. Clubs that sail year-round also maintain the tradition—they get it!

A boat parade is often part of Opening Day. San Francisco has been doing this for 100 years, Seattle for 96 years. Modern parades in these cities are huge, with hundreds of boats participating and hundreds more out on the water. There is an annual parade on Lake Havasu, in the desert. Last year the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania celebrated their 136th Opening Day with a parade of 250 boats. Freakin’ Tasmania! Who lives there? There are clubs on every continent doing something over the course of the year. Shenanigans, El Duano? Check out the Ross Island Yacht Club of Antarctica. Just because their water is frozen…

The PTYC measures its contribution in decades, not centuries, but that’s OK. We are doing our part, and that part grows every year. In 2017, how about 50 boats in our parade? Let’s set a record. Big, small, power, sail, row or paddle—all are welcome. It can be done. Are we not sailors? Do we not go down to the sea in ships? Do you want to make Debbie cry? Hoist your burgee and cast off—you were born for this!

Commodore Duane Madinger    Time and tide wait for no man.