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Silly Costumes and Serious Fun at RYC Beer Can Ope...

Silly Costumes and Serious Fun at RYC Beer Can Opening Day

beer can opening day thurston howell III

All too often sailing is perceived as snobbish. This year Richmond Yacht Club reminded sailors not to take it – or themselves – too seriously with Beer Can Opening Day, a ‘hoity-toity-themed’ beer can race that fortuitously fell on April 1st.

beer can opening day attire

merrick cheney and beer can opening day organizer john dukat in their hoity-toity finery

“Yachting is too exclusive, even the name ‘yachting’ exudes snootiness,” said Seymour Dodds. “So we thought let’s poke fun at the pretentiousness and what better day to do it than April Fools’ Day. It was like a synchronicity of yacht racing planets!”

44 boats raced in beer can opening day

forty-four boats turned out for beer can opening day, photo: richmond yacht club

judge smails trophy

the coveted prizes: judge smails trophy and starched boxers

Forty-four boats turned out to race in a 10-15 knot breeze, with the prestigious Judge Smails Trophy at stake. There was also a Hoity-Toity Decorated Crew Competition and Predicted Log Race for Powered Yachts. It was all just too much fun.

beer can opening day eric arens

ryc staff commodore emeritus, eric arens looking particularly dashing in his blazer with epaulets, photo: sail couture

beer can opening day scott gordon

scott gordon in his st. francis yacht club blazer, accented with a pith helmet for a vintage tropical look, photo: sail couture

beer can opening day marrisa miller

marissa miller’s emsemble said, ‘lady who yachts’ photo: sail couture

Eric Arens, Staff Commodore Emeritus, looked particularly dashing in his club blazer with RYC epaulets. Scott Gordon accented his St. Francis Yacht Club blazer with a pith helmet for a vintage tropical look. Marissa Miller’s pink sheath and nude heels said, ‘lady who yachts.”

simon winer and crew

simon winer and crew. photo: sail couture

We sipped rosé champagne as the boats jockeyed for position; below some of the racers were also toasting the event. There was such a fun, festive mood everywhere.

It was about that time that I remarked how fun this yacht club is, and Scott explained RYC “was built for fun.” The large plaque inside the entrance says so.

this club was built for fun sign

‘this club was built for fun’ – it even says so!

Indeed it does, I saw later.

beer can opening day another girl

cinde lou delmas waving from her beautiful alerion another girl, photo: sail couture

hoity-toity sailing, beer can opening day

ryc members racing in their hoity-toity attire, photo: richmond yacht club

Then it was off to the Predicted Log Race aboard Scott’s cabin cruiser, Jungle Cruise. It was exciting to watch the sailboats race by, some crew in their hoity-toity attire.

beer can opening day action

boats at the start of beer can opening day, photo: sail couture 

close up beer can opening day

lilith in hot pursuit of another girl, photo: sail couture

beer can opening day sweet okole

sweet okole’s beautiful hull always a star, photo: sail couture

beer can opening day sunset

beer can opening day sunset, photo: richmond yacht club

A turnout of 44 boats on a ‘school night’ is quite impressive, actually all the more in the 15+ knot breeze. Then again, most RYC racers consider that normal, this is San Francisco Bay.

scott gordon and marissa miller

cheers to scott and marissa, the cutest couple! photo: sail couture

Scott and Marissa, skipper and first mate of Jungle Cruise, posed after the predicted log race.beer can opening day festivities Back at the club, it was fun to take in the creative costumes. There were captains’ hats, ascots, white and red pants, nautical stripes and more.

beautiful evening at beer can opening day

a beautiful evening for beer can opening day, photo: sail couture

There was quite a crowd too, with the tail end of the bar line was bumping into the tail end of the food line. More than 200 people cooked their own burgers outside on the grill. It was a lovely evening and fun to chat as we each played chef.

gloria ferrer at beer can opening day

enjoying some gloria ferrer sonoma brut

As we noshed ham- and veggie-burgers, my table continued our sparkling theme with some Gloria Ferrer. Soon it was the moment we’d all been waiting for, the prize giving.

beer can opening day winners

hoity-toity winners: merrick and grace cheney as thruston and lovely howell and runner up simon winer and crew dressed on the water. cinde lou delmas’ galley staff crew deserves special mention!

Merrick and Grace Cheney won the decorated crew competition as Thurston and Lovey Howell of Gillian’s Island fame. Runners up were Simon Winer and his crew, who were on water in blazers and Breton Reds with inflatable lifejackets.

simon winer and crew

simon winer and crew saluting the race committee, photo: sail couture

They actually did some rescue work in their stylish attire, pulling a competitor out of the mud. Simon and crew won two pairs of starched boxer shorts and Merrick and Grace, a pair of starched boxers and the Judge Smails Trophy.

Scott won the Predicted Log Race, and the prize? What else? A Duraflame Log of course. Such silly fun!

beer can opening day wine labels

fun sailing-themed wine label prizes for the racers

Winners of the beer can race won bottles of wine with special themed labels like Rock and Hard Places Vine Orinaire, Commodore’s Private Reserve, It’s not Oaked, It’s Been Fiberglassed and Too Many Tacticians. scenes from beer can the movie The lights dimmed, signaling it was time for Beer Can – The Movie, which was produced by Luther Green, RYC’s resident film auteur. Beer Can interweaves unique member storylines, Jocelyn Nash in her iconic Nescafe ad, Scott as a ‘Sailing Center’ anchorman and 50s-era film noir along with racing footage. Clever, witty, fun, we laughed nonstop.

RYC is renown for their themed races, most notably October’s Great Pumpkin, which can feature togas one year and pay tribute to duck tape the next.

Seymour summed it up well, “Yet the most fun still is providing good racing on the water. That’s the club’s bottom line.”


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 Twitter at @karahugglestone or Instagram at @gallerykara.

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