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A Picture-Perfect Opening Day on the Bay

A Picture-Perfect Opening Day on the Bay

It was bluebird and breezy in San Francisco for the 100th annual Opening Day boat parade, kicking off the 2017 summer sailing season on the Bay.

Sailing on San Francisco Bay is normally a casual affair, but one day a year that all changes, becoming festively formal. Opening Day on the Bay, which signals the official beginning of the summer sailing season, is celebrated with decorated boats crewed by nautically attired sailors and fun themed decor. This is one day on the Bay no sailor should miss!

This year was special, celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Opening Day featuring a blessing, boat parade, and even a tall ship battle!

Opening Day San Francisco Bay

Some Opening Day on the Bay history: (Clockwise from top) Opening Day circa 1920, circa 1958, and the bridge opening that may have given us the name Opening Day. Photos: Bill Hynes, PICYA Staff Commodore 1973.

Opening Day San Francisco Bay

The Corinthian Yacht Club hosted its 54th Blessing of the Pleasure Craft in conjunction with Opening Day on the Bay. A priest, pastor and Jewish cantor officiate. Photo: PICYA.

Opening Day has interesting origins: In 1917, with worries of war on many minds, a Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association member suggested the Bay’s yacht clubs host a parade along the city front, which also coincided with the opening of a new bridge in Belvedere. This bridge allowed large barge homes to move from their winter anchorages to summer locations on the Marin waterfront. Different theories exist on the origins of the Opening Day name—could it refer to the opening of the bridge or just be a nod to the popularity of baseball? In any case, the name stuck.

Per tradition, the day begins with the Corinthian Yacht Club’s Blessing of Pleasure Craft, now in its 54th year. In the Bay Area’s version of the traditional Catholic ceremony, a Catholic priest is joined by a pastor and Jewish cantor.

Nattie Nautical at the St. Francis Yacht Club

St. Francis Yacht Club, which was also marking its 90th anniversary, celebrates Opening Day in traditional yachting attire. It’s a special treat to see yachties of all ages don this classic dress and to see how stylish fashionistas translated it to their very own nautical chic. The families were just too darling for words.

Opening Day San Francisco Bay

Sterling and David Mace and their sons Fisher and Marshall. Photo: Sail Couture.

Opening Day San Francisco Bay

Jason and Danielle Creech with son George. Photo: Sail Couture.

Sofia O'Hara with daughters Bia and Madeleine. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

Sofia O’Hara with daughters Bia and Madeleine. How cute is her anchor sweater with scarf as belt? Sofia said she was outfitted entirely by the StFYC Ship’s Store. Photo: Sail Couture.

The mood was festive as people arrived in their nautical finery to sounds of Griff Harries’ Dixieland Jazz Band. Blue blazers, white trousers, club scarves, and hats were proudly worn on the way to the docks to participate in the boat parade or into the club for the buffet or a spin in the historical gallery, photos, and artifacts of the club’s 90-year history.

StFYC-Opening-Day-Kids

Children got to design and sail their sailboat creations. Photo: Sail Couture.

It was a family affair and heartwarming to see so many families with their adorable little sailors. The StFYC had a series of kids activities planned to make the day a real family affair.

Phillip and Kristin Spincin with daughter Katherine and son Patrick. Photo: Sail Couture.

Phillip and Kristin Spincin with daughter Katherine and son Patrick. Photo: Sail Couture.

Marty and Laurie Carrade, Alex and Tatum Getty. Children Jasper, Chloe, Olivia. Photo: Sail Couture.

Marty and Laurie Carrade and Alex and Tatum Getty. Children Jasper, Chloe, Olivia. Photo: Sail Couture.

Jenny Mayfield and Irenee Brunner. Photo: Sail Couture.

Jenny Mayfield and Irenee Brunner in chic prints and stripes. Jenny’s top is J. Crew, Irenee’s stripe tunic from 7 on Locust. Photo: Sail Couture.

It was so fun walking around the club soaking in the history and energy of the day before the start of the main event, “Cruising the Century,” the 100th Opening Day on the Bay Parade! I had just enough time to run up to the race deck for the start.

StFYC Race Deck on Opening Day. Photo: Sail Couture.

StFYC Race Deck on Opening Day. Photo: Sail Couture.

Champagne and scarves. Photo: Sail Couture.

Yachts, Champagne, and scarves: An amazing way to spend the day. Christina Flores McCormick wears one of the StFYC’s iconic scarves. Photo: Sail Couture.

Up on the race deck, I had a bird’s eye view of the parade where members and guests enjoyed a variety of drinks and Fort Point Beer, a sponsor of the Opening Day at the StFYC.

100th Anniversary Boat Parade!

Opening Day San Francisco Bay

San Francisco’s grande dame, the 82-foot Seaward leads the Opening Day parade. Photo: Captivating Photos.

Majestic is the word to describe the site of more than 100 boats parading along the San Francisco city front with the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop. It’s a special treat San Francisco sailors enjoy each year, but the 2017 event was one to remember.

Opening Day San Francisco Bay

Carmelita, owned by Christian Lewis, winner of the Flags and Streamers category. Photo: Sail Couture.

Sea Wisdom, owned by William Lee, promoting Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. Look closely and you can spy their own rescue pup! Photo: Sail Couture.

Sea Wisdom, owned by William Lee, promoting Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. Look closely, and you can spy their own rescue pup! Photo: Sail Couture.

David Kilmetz Impulsive. Photo: Sail Couture.

David Kilmetz’s Impulsive. Photo: Sail Couture.

L. Gordon Philllips' Somand. Somand means sailor in Danish. Photo: Sail Couture.

L. Gordon Philllips’ Somand, which means sailor in Danish. Photo: Sail Couture.

The StFYC fielded 22 entries. Members proudly stood at attention and saluted as they sailed by. They were rewarded with a hearty cheer from the crowd. It was obvious they were having tons of fun. Noted Etchells sailor and general bon vivant Scott Gordon gave us this report:

“Opening Day opened up blustery, and the ebb started ripping early, partially because of all the runoff this year. That set up a chop that all the early Fizzers in the St Francis could see clearly. A few elected to jump ship and watch the parade from the club. But we went out anyway on Bradford Whitaker’s Grand Banks, $quander Buck$, one of the most stable boats in the fleet.

Motoring up and down the Bay that day was a windward-leeward course for powerboats and sailboats under power. You bounced your way upwind with the wind in your hair, and the spray emptied the foredeck. A turn downwind and the wind went down drastically, and everyone moved back to the foredeck to get out from behind the house and into the warm sun.

It never really got cold, but everyone was happy for the uniform of the day: blazers and scarves!”

Rosemary Baker and Scott Gordon. Photo: Scott Gordon.

Rosemary Baker and Scott Gordon aboard Bradford Whitaker’s Grand Banks, $quander Buck$ with true nautical chic. Rosemary’s blazer is Vivienne Westwood, Scott’s Bespoke by California Gentleman. His shoes are Gucci. Photo: Scott Gordon.

Aboard David Kilmetz Impulsive. Left to right: Katie Hansen, Marc Trombella, Patricia Nolan, Laney M. Silverman and David Kilmetz. Loving Laney's style! She's sporting the Tory Burch trousers we featured in our recent article! Photo: Laney M. Silverman.

David Kilmetz Impulsive crew back at the dock. Left to right: Katie Hansen, Marc Trombella, Patricia Nolan, Laney M. Silverman and David Kilmetz. Loving Laney’s style! She’s sporting the Tory Burch trousers we featured in our recent article, and a jacket by Vineyard Vines! Photo: Laney M. Silverman.

Aboard Bill Helvestine's Santa Cruz 50 Deception. Left to right: Christine Ghiai, Roberto Giramonti, Karen Kleckner, Ellen Hoke. Photo: Karen Kleckner,

Mimosas and smiles aboard Bill Helvestine’s Santa Cruz 50 Deception. Left to right: Christine Ghiai, Roberto Giramonti, Karen Kleckner, and Ellen Hoke. Photo: Karen Kleckner.

"I'm channeling Rod Stewart," said the dapper Philip Claypool. His jacket J. Peterman, tie Thomas Brown for Black Fleece, shoes Benjamins-shoes.com made in Sacramento.

The dapper Philip Claypool aboard Impulsive. “I’m channeling Rod Stewart!” he said. His jacket J. Peterman, tie Thomas Brown for Black Fleece, shoes Benjamins-shoes.com made in Sacramento. Photo: Philip Claypool.

All smiles aboard Cinde Lou Delmas Another Girl. Front to back: Kellie Ann Taylor, Charlie McDermott, Jaina Delmas, Cinde Lou Delmas and Tina Broderick. Photo: Kellie Taylor.

All smiles aboard Cinde Lou Delmas’ Another Girl. Front to back: Kellie Ann Taylor, Charlie McDermott, Jaina Delmas, Cinde Lou Delmas, and Tina Broderick. Photo: Kellie Taylor.

Prior to the parade, participants enjoyed sailing around the bay, many enjoying adult beverages, mimosas always a popular choice. I was impressed by the fashion on and off the water, the women’s scarves especially. At the StFYC, the scarves have special significance. Some designate women who are primary members, others spousal members, or staff commodore wives, or to commemorate special places or events, such as Tinsley Island or the America’s Cup.

Personalized yachting attire

The nautical fashion that surrounded me was inspiring, especially how the women made this classic look their own, some with special, personal meaning. How touching it was to learn that both Barbara O’Leary and Kellie Taylor replaced the buttons on their blazers with buttons from their father and grandfather respectively to honor them. Kellie went one further, sporting her grandmother’s hat from I. Magnin.

Barabara shared that when she found traditional navy blazers a bit boxy, she got creative and found exactly what she wanted in a more fitted Pikeur riding competition jacket. Her complete look features J. Crew skirt, vintage spectators and of course StFYC scarf!

Barbary O'Leary honors her father by wearing his navy buttons on her blazer. Photo: Sail Couture.

Barbary O’Leary honors her father by wearing his navy buttons on her blazer. Photo: Sail Couture.

Cinde Lou Delmas' Another Girl makes a beautiful backdrop for Cinde left, Kellie Taylor, right and puppy Xunaan. Photo: Kellie Taylor.

Cinde Lou Delmas’ Alerion Express 38 Another Girl makes a beautiful backdrop for Cinde left, Kellie Taylor, right and puppy Xunaan. Photo: Kellie Taylor.

Rising star in sailing Eliza Richartz went simple and elegant with white sheath, blue blazer and Jack Rogers sandals. Photo: Sail Couture.

Eliza Richartz, one of StFYC’s sailing stars, went simple and elegant with white Lily Pulitzer shift, blue blazer, and Jack Rogers sandals. The blazer, she notes, belonged to her grandmother, and the gold buttons have her initials on them! Photo: Sail Couture.

Merrill Gillespie was chic head to toe in J. Crew Stripes, Chanel shoes and Anna Hindmarch bag. The finishing touch? Her husband's pocket square as scarf. Photo: Sail Couture.

Merrill Gillespie was chic head to toe in J. Crew Stripes, Chanel shoes and Anna Hindmarch bag. The finishing touch? Her husband’s pocket square as a scarf. Photo: Sail Couture.

Creative parade winners

As for the winning looks on the water, there were many winners in many classes. One of my favorites was Island Yacht Club’s Ghost for Sailboat Decorated to the Cruising the Century Theme, which honored PICYA with a lighthouse. A sign read, “the lighthouse, like PICYA, aids sailors.” I also loved the Ezra Lange’s Chelonia from Bay View Boat Club, which took second in the Juniors Decorated to Theme category, and of course, the overall winner, James Purvis’ Sans Souci Roaring 20s for Marin Yacht Club. See all the winners here.

Island Yacht Club won sailboat decorate to theme.

Island Yacht Club won in the Sailboat Decorated to Theme category with their PICYA lighthouse.

Opening-Day-Roaring-20s

James Purvis’ Sans Souci for Marin Yacht Club Roaring 20s was the overall winner. Photo: Sail Couture.

The Juniors Decorated to Theme second place winner was Bay View Boat Club's entry on Ezra Lange Chelonia. Photo: Sail Couture.

Go kids! The Juniors Decorated to Theme second place winner was Bay View Boat Club’s entry on Ezra Lange’s Chelonia. Photo: Sail Couture.

One thing is for sure, on or off the water, the annual Opening Day Parade is not to be missed.

Festive Fun at the Corinthian Yacht Club

The Corinthian Yacht Club has a reputation as a fun club, and that is certainly apparent during their Opening Day celebrations. This year it was especially true for the 100th anniversary.

While the StFYC took a traditional approach to the Cruising the Century Theme, the Corinthian Yacht Club focused on a special time in San Francisco’s history also celebrating a milestone: The Summer of Love turns 50 this year.

The Corinthian Yacht Club looks like it might be a formal yacht club...and then you see just how fun they are. Photo: Sail Couture.

The Corinthian Yacht Club looks like it might be a really formal yacht club…and then you see just how fun they are. Photo: Sail Couture.

The Corinthian Yacht Club is famous for it's decorated boats. Photo: Sail Couture.

Pennants a plenty at the Corinthian Yacht Club. Photo: Sail Couture.

CYC makes a weekend of Opening Day, beginning with a member cruise-in and boat decorating and judging on Saturday, followed by their blessing of the fleet on Sunday. The judging on Saturday is always a treat, especially with this year’s Summer of Love theme. It was entertaining to see how creatively CYC members interpreted it.

There was an onboard performance by Sonny and Cher, a Grateful Dead boat, one boat honoring the cultural icons of the 60s, and another was a wonderful gourmet respite. Many crews try to bribe the judges with offerings, and the lucky members tagging along get to partake too. It’s all just too much fun.

No right or wrong way

Some boats kept it nautical, and others embraced the Summer of Love theme. A few even had a unique connection to the theme, like Andrea Owen, who for many years was an accountant for the Grateful Dead. One thing was clear; everyone was having a great time.

“It’s a fabulous weekend at the club; it’s when we look our best,” said Staff Commodore Sharon Marsh-Barr. It’s true, it gives you a peek into the personality of the club, beautiful for sure, but also very fun loving.

Kim Barr, Sharon Marsh Barr and John Dodge aboard Georgia J, which was decorated with CYC flags and flags from the 33 countries the Barrs visited while cruising around the world. Photo: Sail Couture.

Kim Barr, Staff Commodore Sharon Marsh Barr and John Dodge aboard Georgia J, which was decorated with CYC pennants, and pennants from the 33 countries the Barrs visited while cruising around the world. Loved John’s soldier costume, we can’t forget how key they were in the 60s mosaic. Photo: Sail Couture.

There is no wrong way to do Opening Day at the Corinthian Yacht Club, it's all about having fun. Left to right: Edwardo and Natalie Lorente and Doug and Andrea Owen. Photo: Sail Couture.

It’s all about having fun on Opening Day at the Corinthian Yacht Club, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Left to right: Edwardo and Natalie Lorente and Doug and Andrea Owen in their best flower power dress. Photo: Sail Couture.

Even Katy the Collie (Katy) owned by Opening Day Chair Kathleen Barr and her husband Jack got in on the fun. Photo: Sail Couture.

Even Katy the Collie, owned by Opening Day Chair Kathleen Barr and her husband Jack, got in on the fun. Photo: Sail Couture.

Gourmet treats

The foodie in me always looks forward to what the Thamm’s are offering aboard Mischief. The judges agree; this year they won Best Cocktail.

“We love the Basil Gimlets, they are easy to make for a crowd and are very refreshing, not to mention tasty! We are always looking for new and fun cocktails for opening day. We quite often search for new recipes and then do a taste test at home before we choose one for the judges,” said Rochelle Richelieu Thamm.

“The prosciutto-wrapped asparagus was, again, easy to make for a crowd and we were able to cook the asparagus the day before, so all we needed to do was wrap it with the prosciutto.  It’s relatively healthy with the asparagus, and who doesn’t like cured pork product!” she continued.

Rochelle and Marty Thamm won Best Cocktail for their delicious Basil Gimlet. The appetizer was pretty yummy too. Photo: Sail Couture.

Rochelle and Marty Thamm won Best Cocktail for their delicious Basil Gimlet. The appetizer was pretty yummy too. Photo: Sail Couture.

Sharon Meyer mixes up some Cherry Garcia while Janice Joplin looks on. Photo: Sail Couture.

Sharon Meyer preparing her classic Cherry Garcia Ice Cream doused with Bailey’s Irish Cream while Janice Joplin looks on. Photo: Sail Couture.

shearwater-opening-day-cyc

The Shearwater crew tempted the judges with Sharon’s original Summer of Love punch of Prosecco and Aperol, among other tasty treats. Photo: Sail Couture.

Jeanne Lacy’s C&C 36 Shearwater was a visual feast and literal one as well. “Sharon concocted some original, authentic Summer of Love treats for our Shearwater visitors. One was her punch of Prosecco, Aperol, and some other things,” said Sandy Stadtfeld.

The other was a classic dessert of Cherry Garcia ice cream doused with Bailey’s Irish Cream. We think people went away happy,” he said. Jeanne and her crew wanted to do something special this year, and they did.

Celebrities on parade

Sonny and Cher, aks Ed and Diana Fischer, sing some of their favorites for the crowd aboard their Catalina 34. Photo: Sail Couture.

Sonny and Cher, aka Ed and Diana Fischer, pause for effect as they sing some of their favorites for the crowd aboard their Catalina 34 Sirius. Photo: Sail Couture.

Jerry Garcia, aka Jim Sweeney, makes an appearance! Photo: Sail Couture.

Jerry Garcia, aka Jim Sweeney, makes an appearance! Photo: Sail Couture.

The Corinthian Yacht Club's his and hers commodores, Allyn and Kim Schafer always have great costumes. Note Allyn's nautical shoes! Photo: Donna Stone.

The Corinthian Yacht Club’s charming his and hers commodores Allyn and Kim Schafer always have great costumes. How fun is Allyn’s Rolling Stones Some Girls shirt and of course his nautical shoes! Kim’s cute 60s-vibe dress is an Amazon find. Allyn’s clever shoes make me smile every year! Photo: Donna Stone.

A special year

2017 is a special year for Shearwater owner skipper Jeanne Lacy as she celebrated her 90th birthday! Friends Sandy Stadtfeld, Sharon Meyer, Stephen Spoja (Sharon’s husband) and Deborah Franklin transformed Shearwater into “Long Strange Trip” with wonderful black and white photographs honoring 60s-era musicians and counter-culture icons—Janis Joplin was given the honor of the bow. The collection of images was curated by Stephen—who Sandy said was the creative spark on the project.

Sandy Stadtfeld and Jeanne Lacy. Jeanne, who turned 90 this year, still actively sails San Francisco Bay. Photo: Sail Couture.

Sandy Stadtfeld and Jeanne Lacy aboard her C&C 36 Shearwater, which won Best Theme. Jeanne, who turned 90 this year, still actively sails San Francisco Bay. The gallery of fabulous classic rock photographs was curated by Stephen Spoja. Photo: Sail Couture.

The ultimate traditional celebration

Berkeley Yacht Club member Karen Lile took a historical approach to celebrating the 100th Opening Day on the Bay—very historical actually. Representing the Berkeley Yacht Club and International Fellowship of Rotarians Yacht Club San Francisco Fleet she chartered two tall ships for ceremonial battles on the Bay!

Patti Brennan, also of BYC, sub-chartered one of the tall ships for the first battle sail against Karen. They made it more interesting and their personal challenge. Karen, who is a Daughter of the American Revolution, challenged Patti, who is a Native Daughter of the Golden West, to battle with her sisterhood.

There were 55 DAR members from La Puerta De Oro San Francisco Chapter and 25 DAR members from Presidio Chapter on the Lady Washington during the two sails. The Native Daughters accepted the challenge aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain.

The Lady Washington. Photo: Milton Smith.

A race to the battle, Milt Smith captures the opposing ship the Lady Washington. Photo: Milton Smith.

Milton Smith, Staff Commodore of South Beach Yacht Club, shows some SBYC pride prior to battle. Photo: Milton Smith.

Milt Smith, Staff Commodore of South Beach Yacht Club, left, and Dick Haiduck Vice Commodore, right, show some SBYC pride prior to battle. Photo: Milton Smith.

Getting a sense of just how traditional this sail was. Photo: Milton Smith.

This photo gives a sense of just how traditional the sail was. Photo: Milton Smith.

Karen then challenged Staff Commodore of South Beach Yacht Club Milt Smith to battle in the afternoon, where he was joined by Rear Commodore John DeSousa of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians San Francisco Fleet and members of the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek.

Passengers and spectators on boats thrilled as The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain showed off, first in Raccoon Straits in the morning and along the San Francisco city front in the afternoon.

PICYA Commodores aboard the California Hornblower. Photo: Captivating Images.

PICYA Commodores aboard the California Hornblower. Photo: Captivating Images.

There were so many wonderful Opening Day Celebrations for the 100th anniversary—I wish we could feature them all. The group to be commended for organizing the parade, the event in general, and for being an all-around yachting community cheerleader is PICYA. Their bylaws state, “…to constitute an association of yacht clubs and boating organizations, to promote inter-club communications, yachting activities and the social interaction relating thereto, and to organize and conduct programs which enhance the general welfare of the member organizations.”

Well done PICYA, particularly to Rear Commodore Winston Bumpus who chaired the 100th Anniversary Committee.


Kara Hugglestone is Founder and Editor of Sail Couture. She is also a San Francisco-based branding professional, sailor and traveler. When time permits, she indulges in her passion for things classic: cars, movies, wine and fashion. You can follow her on Instagram at @gallerykara.

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