In the spring of 1954, a group of sailors gathered with a simple purpose: “to organize and provide rules for racing this summer on Great Bay, or other places designated.” Races were held each Sunday afternoon at the State Pier and included class racing for 12 foot catboats — Merry Macs designed by club member Ned McIntosh — and other boats by handicap. By 1958, Great Bay Yacht Club was officially registered with the State of New Hampshire as a non-profit organization whose purpose was “to foster the spirit of sailing in the community around the Great Bay area. “In 1959 the Club was able to purchase the two lots that became its home. The Club blossomed during the women’s and “boat” divisions.
This level of commitment to racing continued into the 1970’s, though by decade’s end the Club was schedulling only seven races per year, including the newly-inaugurated event, a memorial race for pioneering Club member Clyde Whitehouse. This race is still sponsored by GBYC and takes place every September. Though Club racing continued into the 1980s, the golden age of the wooden Merry Mac had passed as members made the move to bigger (and most often fiberglass) boats. But racing is only part of the GBYC story. Thanks to a high level of volunteerism, members have been able, on a shoestring, to construct docks and a modest building for storage lockers and to plan renovations including a porch from which to watch races, boats going by and sunsets. Friendships which in some cases stretch back through three generations are continued and new ones are made as we gather for afternoon socials, jaunts to the Isles of Shoals, and the occasional group cruise to further parts.