The yachting season in Marina del Rey officially opened last weekend, Saturday and Sunday, March 19th, and 20th.

The threat of rain pushed Saturday Opening Day ceremonies indoors at three Marina yacht clubs — Santa Monica Windjammers, California and Marina Venice.

But the sun came out Sunday for Opening Day ceremonies at three other Marina yacht clubs — South Coast Corinthian, Pacific Mariners and Del Rey.

The yacht clubs use the Opening Day ceremonies to acknowledge their yacht club flag officers, boards of directors, ladies auxiliaries and yacht club employees.

Flags are raised, cannons boom and clubs are “commissioned” for the boating season, as the yacht clubs cling to a yachting tradition that in the spring boats are put back into the water and sailing competition and club social activities can begin.

In the icy regions of northern yachting — where boats are pulled from the water at the end of each season and yacht clubs go into a near hibernation until the first thaws of spring — such ceremony makes a lot of sense.

Of course, here in Southern California yacht clubs have already had several important racing competitions, several important social events and lots of individual boating in the first two and a half months of the calendar year.

Yachting here is a year-around activity.

But Marina yacht clubs still make much of the annual Opening Day, inviting flag officers from other yacht clubs up and down the coast, local government officials and even the press to share in the annual Opening Day rituals.

SANTA MONICA

WINDJAMMERS YC — Members of the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club had much to cheer about during Opening Day ceremonies as their club was again named “Yacht Club of the Year” by the Southern California Yachting Association (SCYA) — the fourth such designation in the past five years.

Tom Kennedy of SCYA stood by a huge “Yacht Club of the Year” trophy to note the honor.

Commodore Peter Glick pointed out that the club is beginning its 65th season on Santa Monica Bay.

A number of years ago, the Santa Monica Yacht Club and the Windjammers Yacht Club combined to form the present club.

Four of the Venice High School Allegros offered an impressive National Anthem and the commodore’s daughter, Heather, led the Pledge of Allegiance during the ceremonies.

CALIFORNIA YC — California Yacht Club used an Opening Day Polynesian theme to note that the yacht club plans a Tahiti cruise aboard the Paul Gauguin in August.

Commodore Bill Petersen noted that within 30 days after Saturday’s Opening Day, the club will begin another Sunset Series of Wednesday races, one of the year’s most successful and enjoyable events in the Marina.

Petersen announced that for the sixth year, Ann Ach will be chairman of the Sunset Series, which brought cheers from her many yachting fans at the Opening Day event.

The commodore ran through a lengthy list of events that California Yacht Club will be participating in during his term.

Petersen made no secret of the club’s goal to bring home trophies in most — if not, all — of them.

Club members are also looking forward to “summer cruises to Cat Harbor and Catalina Island,” the commodore said.

Of course there will be a lengthy season of social activities at the club, too.

Club members didn’t waste any time jumping into them.

Following Opening Day ceremonies, Cal Yacht Club had a busy schedule the same day that included children’s crafts, an outrigger canoe and kayak competition, displays of organizations associated with the club and their activities and a sundown ceremony.

If the bulging Opening Day buffet were not enough to fill member tummies for the rest of the week, there was also a South Seas island supper with music and dancing in the evening.

There was lots of music at California Yacht Club during the day, with early music from a group calling itself “Halau Hula a Kawika Laua O’Leinani.”

The National Anthem was sung by the El Segundo High School Choir.

VENICE MARINA YC — The Venice Marina Yacht Club shared its Opening Day ceremonies with the South Bay Yacht Racing Club — each organization holding a simultaneous commissioning.

Venice Marina commodore Russell Smith and South Bay Yacht Racing Club commodore Julie Albright made a snazzy tag team as they individually introduced their “bridges” — flag officers — and “dressed” their respective organizations with the proper raising of burgees, introduction of club leaders and booming of cannons.

Debbie Treadwell led a rousing National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by two youngsters, Marisa Abel and Alison Krimsky.

Perhaps the weekend’s most fun event happened when a cannon failed to function at the right moment for Commodore Smith.

Not to worry. Coincidentally, a barman happened to be opening a bottle of champagne that caused a very loud “pop” at the right moment.

“The club is commissioned,” Smith replied, not missing a beat.

Speaking of champagne, Commodore Albright noted that her club’s recent Champagne Series drew 50 boats and her club has selected “Making Memories” as the theme for its 41st season.

SOUTH COAST

CORINTHIAN YC — The promised rain never arrived Sunday, much to the delight of the folks who came for Opening Day at the South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club Sunday morning.

Commodore Carl Radusch noted that the club is beginning its 68th yachting season.

Perhaps the most touching moment of the day was the 73rd reading of the club’s invocation, originally read by the late Les Storrs in 1932. Radusch revealed that that was three years before he was born.

The commodore said his club has continued and been successful in large part because the club was successful in having such wonderful earlier leaders who set a standard for the club.

“The club is steeped in history,” he told the Opening Day audience.

Among those who have participated and supported the yacht club are Don Douglas of Douglas Aircraft, actor Buddy Ebsen and both Wiley Post and Will Rogers.

One of the club’s real treasures is found on the wall of its clubhouse — an original club burgee that Wiley Post and Will Rogers carried to Alaska just before their ill-fated airplane crash.

A placard with the burgee notes that Post and Rogers traveled to Alaska in their “Winnie Mae” Lockheed Vega airplane, in which Post had previously gained his place in history as the first aviator to circumvent the globe alone.

On August 15th, 1935, they arrived in Barrow, Alaska, where they had the burgee postmarked and mailed back to the yacht club.

Both men soon lost their lives on that expedition when their plane crashed on the northern coast of Alaska.

PACIFIC MARINERS YC — There was a Mardi Gras theme for Opening Day at the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club because commodore Nick Cecola is from Louisiana.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Brownie member Alexandra Cordova and Lauren Delaney.

The traditional chicken that falls each year from a roof at the end of Pacific Mariners Opening Day ceremonies this year descended in the mouth of an alligator.

Then it was topside for Cajun food prepared by club members.

DEL REY YC — The sun really came out for the midday Opening Day at the Del Rey Yacht Club.

The longest Opening Day ceremony of the weekend was made even longer with a TV parody featuring club members pretending to be commodore Fred Rapp.

“Will the real commodore stand up?”

Fortunately, we eventually got around to the real commodore and introductions got under way.

Music at Del Rey Yacht Club is always one of the highlights of the club’s Opening Day and this year we were treated to a solo from the young Angelique Paul, who also is a participant in club sailing programs for youths.

Later, David Ross would do a resounding rendition of “God Bless America” to honor our troops.

The club gave Ron Jacobs its “Excellence” award. Jacobs started the Cruising Class in the club’s “once every two years” Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta International Yacht Race.

The commodore noted that 200 club members had traveled to Puerto Vallarta last month to support the boats in the P.V. race as they arrived in the Mexican city.

While the big folks were sailing to Puerto Vallarta, club juniors were competing in New Zealand, Rapp said.

This is a busy club.

BLUE GAVEL — Several former Marina yacht club commodores were installed in the International Order of the Blue Gavel during Opening Day ceremonies this weekend.

The Blue Gavel is an organization of former yacht club commodores who continue to contribute to their yacht clubs and the boating tradition.

The incoming International Order of Blue Gavel members were installed by Jon Robbins, Blue Gavel District 11 president, and, on Sunday, by Robbins and David Phelps, Blue Gavel District 11 director.

Joining the Blue Gavel order were Don Mantarro and Otto Cenzanao, Jr. of the Marina Venice Yacht Club; Joe Bourque and Bill Cavaness of the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club; and Robert Heintz, Jr. and Julian Satnick of Del Rey Yacht Club.

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