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Traditions & Events

How the Club started 97 years ago, how we grew, the history behind the Fountain and the Bell, and the stories behind a few of our named regattas can be found in the 2024 Directory. Yacht Clubs are based on tradition, and here are some of our traditions:

  • Birthday Dinner - Held the night before "Opening Day", the annual Birthday Dinner was first observed in 1951, under Commodore Bill Rice. It is a party honoring Staff Commodores, Honorary Life Members, and visiting Commodores. It is a family party for members of all ages.
  • Closing of the Yacht Club - At the end of the Birthday Dinner in 1970, Commodore Bob Lynch announced the "closing" of the Yacht Club, completing the racing season. (In colder climates yacht clubs are "closed" for an entire winter). At noon the next day, the Club was reopened. This tradition has continued.
  • Opening Day - An annual celebration held every April observing the "opening" of MBYC's boating season. Complete with traditional ceremonies, entertainment, sailboat races, raft-ups, food and beverages. All members are encouraged to participate.
  • Boat Inspection - A Committee of Staff (former) Commodores inspects the boats. All fleets, except Junior Sabots, are inspected on Saturday prior to Opening Day. Winners of the various awards are announced during the Opening Day ceremonies.
  • Fleet Smartness Award - Awarded on Opening Day to the fleet which is determined to have the cleanest, neatest, most shipshape area around its berthing/parking area.
  • Fleet Participation Award - Awarded on Opening Day to the largest fleet of boats inspected. There is a perpetual trophy and an Admiral's Cocked Hat to be worn by the Fleet Captain. The hat was created and presented to the Club by Judy Patchel, wife of Staff Commodore Herb Patchel.
  • Scanties Race - The Scanties, a Flapper class sailboat, was the Flagship of our first Commodore, Tom Scripps. It was donated to the Club around 1968, and the Board decided that the Commodore should sail it each year in the Asher Pier Race. It has since been rebuilt, and is still sailed. Originally, it was just one of the boats in the Handicap Fleet. Subsequently, a special class for the Opening Day race was established, which the Commodore always wins.
  • Le Mans Race for Juniors - In 1970, Commodore Bob Lynch, wanted to put a greater emphasis on the importance of Junior Racing at MBYC. By using the firing of the cannon, signifying the "Opening of the Club", as the signal for the race start. Sabots are slid into the water, rudders rigged, and sailors race to a buoy across the Bay. An MBYC Burgee is held by the Commodore on the beach. First Junior sailor to round a mark and return to grab the flag is the winner.
  • Opening Day Raft-Up - Since there were only power boats stored in the water in the early 60's, and the front dock of the Old Clubhouse was filled with Asher Pier sailboats, the original rafts were anchored out, with shore-boat service. When we built the new Clubhouse and had sufficient dockage, the raft moved in. Eventually, wet-stored sailboats joined the power boats, and then a second raft of sailboats was established. All boats are open for visitation by all members and guests following the ceremonies.
  • Spring Brunches - Easter and Mother's Day are celebrated with a traditional champagne brunch. Father's Day Pancake breakfast is hosted by the Brady family in memory of Paul Brady, 1973 Commodore.
  • Thursday Night Thing (TNT) - Racing on a summer evening has long been a tradition, but not always on Thursday. It became Thursday to coincide with daytime sailing events (Ladies Sabot Sailing) since the boats were rigged and the families were already there. Families now come down for a summer picnic dinner and either bring their own food or enjoy a TNT meal prepared by the Galley.
  • Ladies Fashion Show - In 1959, the women held a fashion show as a one-time fund raiser. In the 60's the Women's Group was organized as a fund raising entity and reestablished the Fashion Show idea. Jeanne Lynch was the first Women's Chair/Fashion Show Chair. Based on its success, it has become an annual event. Money raised is used to improve the esthetics of the Club.
  • Fourth of July Parade of Boats - Conceived and promoted by Willie Welch, and continued by Staff Commodore, John Leppert, the event has expanded to be one of the largest Club activities. The 4th at MBYC now includes the Parade of Boats (dressed ships) with Dixieland music, children activities, a front dock raft-up, and picnic dinner served by the Galley. The holiday is climaxed with MBYC's major fireworks display in front of Club on Mission Bay.
  • The Luau - The first Luau was given in 1951, under Commode Bill Rice. It was an underground pig roast. The decorations were made by the members. The Staff Commodores' wives made all the leis. The Luau is held on the beach between the buildings. This annual event, with professional Polynesian entertainment and an Island feast now attracts over 350 members annually.
  • Club Championship - At the end of the summer sailing season fleet champions race against each other in a single class of sailboat. The "take home trophy" for the winner is a reserved parking spot, making this a serious race.
  • Installation of Officers - This dinner party takes place on the first Saturday in December. It began in 1951 under Commodore Bill Rice. The annual meeting of the membership is held at this time. The out-going Commodore is Master of Ceremonies and swears in the Officers and Directors for the up-coming year.
  • Family Christmas Party and Parade of Lights - This is a big all day family party including Santa Claus and entertainment. The parade is a community event which often attracts over 100 decorated boats.
  • Bahia Belle Christmas Caroling - In 1963, Commodore Ross Harris initiated the renting of the Bahia Belle for Christmas caroling on a midweek night in early December. A public address system broadcasts our singing to the people on the shore.
  • New Year's Eve Commodores' Ball - A traditional New Year's Eve party. It is complete with a formal dinner, live music, dancing, and champagne to bring in the New Year.
  • New Year's Day Brunch - This began in the early 80's as a back dock "Garbage Brunch". All who stayed aboard their boats after the Commodore's New Year's Eve Ball brought whatever they had aboard to share in an impromptu brunch. It expanded until there were too many to accommodate. So, in 1988, looking for a larger location, Commodore Dick and, wife, Mary Alice Devlin contacted the cooks, who were Vietnamese. They were happy to serve brunch on their non-holiday.
  • Las Vegas Night - The first Gaming Night was in 1954 when Commodore Floyd and Carla Downham commissioned construction of the gaming tables. Since the 1970's, the Snipe Fleet has sponsored the annual Las Vegas Night in conjunction with a regatta.
  • Valentine and St. Patrick's Day Dinners - 1988 was the first Valentine Dinner honoring all the sweethearts, especially the Commodore's Lady, Mary Alice Devlin. 1988 was also the year the Irish Devlins initiated a special dinner featuring an Irish menu and entertainment for St. Patrick's Day. In recent years, Valentine's has been celebrated with a Sunday Brunch.
  • Work Party Days - Held the first two Saturdays in March. The Club gets a lot of repair and maintenance work done by the membership, thus saving thousands of dollars and keeping dues lower. This is a fun social event, bringing together members from all fleets and all age groups in a common cause that benefits everyone. Sandwiches and beverages are served (via dock cart) by the Ladies group. Trophies are polished, docks are built, lawns installed, weeds pulled, picnic tables painted, and many other community "barn-building" projects are accomplished in preparation for the new boating season.