Miles River Yacht Club (MRYC) will celebrate its 100th Anniversary throughout 2021. Located on the banks of Long Haul Creek off of the Miles River in St. Michaels, MRYC has a rich history of maritime activities since its founding.
MRYC’s centennial celebration will be marked by a commemorative burgee, special events including the introduction of a new log canoe trophy planned for the last weekend of June 2021, and an expanded yearbook documenting the history of the club and its contributions to the community and to boating and water sports. Additional events may be added as conditions allow.
In the early 1920s, a group of gentlemen playing poker in the back room of the Citizens Bank in St. Michaels turned their talk to reviving the tradition of log canoe racing on the Miles River. The first organized successful race was among three canoes: Sam, Island Blossom and Mary Rider competed on July 4th that year.
The 10 poker-playing gentlemen became the founding members of the Miles River Yacht Club to essentially organize log canoe regattas. John P. Cosden was elected Commodore of the new club in 1920 and served until 1926. The club grew into “The Home of the Log Canoes,” and interest in racing these unique craft grew along with it.
As attendance at regattas outgrew locations on St. Michaels Harbor, MRYC purchased their current property at the junction of the Miles River and Long Haul Creek. The club continued the tradition of sponsoring races for “everything but rowboats”—inviting a wide variety of classes of power and sail to the regattas. Today the tradition continues with racing on the Miles throughout the summer, although today it is for sail only.
The Annual Regatta of 1946 set a record for turnout with some 2,000 boats, and 10,000 participants and spectators. While sail regattas continue, the last power regatta at MRYC was held in 1971.
Serving as home of the classic Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes, these magnificent vessels, most of which are over 100 years old, can be seen racing on the Miles on four weekends each year. A favorite of locals and visitors alike, watching them race is a thrill, as extremely competitive crews work to sail them faster without a capsize, something that is not uncommon. Sailing on a Log Canoe is rather like being in a beautifully synchronized ballet troupe while riding on a roller coaster.
The Governor’s Cup is the most coveted of the 23 trophies awarded during the regattas hosted by MRYC. In 1926 Bill Green, skipper of the Canoe Mary Rider, asked then-Governor Albert C. Ritchie for permission to sponsor a subscription campaign for a perpetual trophy to be known as “The Governor’s Cup.” The Cup was presented to MRYC in 1927 by Gov. Ritchie and accepted by Bill Green in trust to the Club. Most years since, the Governor, or a member of his Cabinet or Staff, are on hand to present the Cup. Today, this guarantees that the winning skipper
will end up swimming in the basin after sipping a Dark and Stormy from the Cup.
In addition to Log Canoe races, MRYC hosts races for the Star Class, PHRF, Albacores, the Herring Island Sailing Fleet, Wednesday Night Races as well as an annual Annapolis to Miles River race over Memorial Day weekend. Over the years the club has hosted numerous other classes and regattas including the North American Ice Boat Championships in 1977, the Finn Class Olympic Trials, the Mobjack class International Championships, the International Penguin Championships, the Albacore National Championships and more.
In furtherance of its Statement of Purpose to enhance the general welfare of the community, the club and its members actively participate in giving back to the community. Each year they host a moving Memorial Day service, collect and distribute back to school supplies, cook and deliver hundreds of Thanksgiving Dinners in the community, collect and distribute coats each winter, and host an angel tree with wish lists for local needy children at Christmas.
Additionally, MRYC began the tradition of the 4th of July fireworks on the Miles River. They hosted and provided fundraising for this community event for many years before handing the responsibility off to a dedicated, independent fundraising group.
In addition, MRYC opens its doors for the St. Michaels Volunteer Fire Company annual banquet, the St. Michaels High School Prom, the St. Michaels Prayer Breakfast, and the St. Michaels Rotary, as well as providing meeting space for other local organizations.
The club sponsors a Homerun Baker League baseball team and a vibrant Junior Sail Program that teaches sailing and water safety to youth and which offers scholarships to local children, being open to community members as well as club members. Since 1965 the Club has been home to the MRYC Marlins swim team. This highly competitive team is one of the oldest on the shore and is a founding member of the Delmarva Swim Association.
A cruising group and a regular schedule of indoor and outdoor events in the clubhouse and on the grounds for both children and adults keep MRYC a center of social activity in the community.
MRYC has long touted its accessibility, keeping its fees affordable to attract a broad membership, and adding facilities that engaged area residents with a wide variety of interests. The facility has grown to a clubhouse with a 150-seat ballroom, a dining room and an ample lounge area, a 67-slip marina with new docks for 2021, an ever-popular dock bar with live entertainment Saturday nights during the summer, a boat hoist, pump out station, launching ramp, and a completely refurbished pool with an adjacent pool house containing showers, a snack bar, and a classroom for junior sailors.
For more information and additional pictures from the past hundred years contact Jerry Cramblett, Chair of the Centennial Committee at 410-802-4599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One Hundred Years of History
1920 A 4th of July log canoe race highlights the need for a sponsoring club.
1921 A January meeting of ten charter members elected Commodore John P. Cosden and other officers of a new Miles River Yacht Club to develop sail and motorboat racing as well as cruising. First regatta hosted.
1927 Club incorporated. Regatta receptions moved from the Dodson House (now Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum grounds) to the Rieman property (now the Log Canoe Inn). First log canoe race for the Governor’s Cup won by Magic, Capt. Bob Wilson, owner and skipper.
1930 Club purchased property on Long Haul Creek.
1934 Professional outboard motor competition added to the annual regatta.
1935 William Sidney Covington Trophy for log canoes built before 1917 donated to MRYC. Trophy was won that year by J. H. Caulk Kemp in his canoe Island Bird, a canoe built by W. S. Covington. The Miles River Trophy for the speed boats Free-for-All introduced.
1936 John B. Harrison Trophy for log canoes built after 1917 donated to MRYC. Trophy was won by Flying Cloud, a canoe built by John B. Harrison.
1943 – 1945 Miles River Regatta suspended during wartime.
1946 MRYC Annual Regatta set a record for turnout, with 69 power boat and sailing events, some 2,000 boats, and 10,000 participants and spectators. A sea nettle net was set off the beach for swimmers.
1949 Clubhouse expanded with a new ballroom and porches facing the water on two sides.
1950 Sail and Power Regatta split into separate events on separate weekends.
1951 MRYC hosted Thistle National Championships. A Women’s Auxiliary created.
1952 Miles River Power Squadron organized and based at MRYC.
1953 MRYC hosted two newly organized fleets of the Penguin and Comet classes.
1955 Clubhouse again expanded with an addition on the west side. Frostbite regatta for Penguins and log canoes began in the fall.
1956 Frostbite Regatta moved to late March/early April. The Miles River Powerboat Regatta grew to 17 classes.
1958 MRYC hosted Flying Dutchman class North American Championship races.
1962 MRYC hosted Comet International Championship races.
1964 Pool built on the site of the tennis courts.
1965 Marlins Swim Team organized.
1970 Junior Sailing classes initiated.
1971 Power regatta hosted for the last time.
1972 Pool opened to all MRYC members without supplemental cost.
1976 Mid Shore Fleet of the Star Class chartered at MRYC, and a hoist installed to launch the Stars. Finn class Olympic Trials hosted by MRYC.
1977 MRYC hosted DN class North American and Gold Cup Iceboat Championships, the farthest south the competition has ever been held.
1981 MRYC hosted the American Canoe Association’s Class C Sailing National Championship Races for 5-meter canoes.
1988 Miles River Yacht Club Anglers organized.
1990 MRYC hosted the E-Scow Regatta and Mobjack class International Championships.
1994 Second floor added to the pool house, along with renovations to showers and the clubhouse.
2003 Hurricane Isabel destroyed pavilion on wharf; subsequently rebuilt as “Isabel’s Bar.”
2006 Deb Fields elected Commodore of MRYC, the first woman to serve as the organization’s leader.
2010 MRYC Foundation established to provide grants for sailing scholarships, swimming programs, and rowing programs.
2013 MRYC hosted the International Penguin Championship regatta.
2014 Club membership capped at 725 members.
2018 MRYC hosted the Albacore National Championship regatta.
2020 Pool refurbished, offering outdoor respite during the COVID-19 pandemic.