History of Concord Yacht Club
“In the infant town of Knoxville the houses are irregular and interspersed. It was a country court day when I came. I saw men jesting, singing, swearing, and women yelling from the doorways. Whiskey and brandy were cheap. The town was confused with a promiscuous throng of every denomination, blanket-clad Indians, leather-clad woodsmen, gamblers hard-eyed and vigilant. I stood aghast. My soul shrank back to hear the horrid oaths and dreadful indignities offered to the supreme governor of the universe. There was what I never did see before on Sunday, dancing, singing, and playing of cards.
It was said by a gentlemen of the neighborhood that the devil has grown so old that it renders him incapable of traveling and that he has taken up in Knoxville and there hopes to spend the remaining part of his days…as he believes he is among friends.” Source: Volunteer Landing Monument, Tennessee River Waterfront, Knoxville, written by traveler James Weir in 1798.
Among the sailing community, more than two hundred years later, jesting, dancing, laughing, singing, joyful yelling, and light-heartedness remains active on the Tennessee at Fort Loudon Lake. Organized sailing began on Fort Loudon Lake about 1947 under the auspices of the Oak Ridge Power Squadron with a fleet of four or five Sunray sailboats skippered by Oak Ridge’s Lockhart, Stevens, McDonald, Nicholson, and Stewart. They launched at Concord Boat Dock, lowering masts to clear the Northshore Drive Bridge. Several years’ later moorings were set “outside” of Concord Park. The first race was recorded as taken place on June 19, 1948. The fleet was enlarged by addition of an aluminum boat, a Snipe, and Gus Angele’s Seagull. The first Annual Awards Banquet took place at the historic Park Hotel in Clinton with Charles Asmanes winning the cup for overall high score for the season and Lockhart the Sunray trophy.
In 1949 the first woman skipper joined the fleet, followed by Girl Scout Mariners with a Comet under the leadership of Frances Gilliam. Three more fleet members added a Lightning, a scow, and another aluminum craft.
In 1950, Reg Gwin purchased a Thistle sailboat kit and was followed immediately in the purchase of Thistle kits by Bill Johnson and Jones Smellage with co-owners Don Hansket and Alfred Sanford. These five people chartered thistle fleet #45 in 1951. The Concord Yacht Club was incorporated in October 1951 as a non-profit Tennessee Corporation located on property acquired by TVA in association with the Loudon Dam Construction Program and these same five people signed its charter. The club continues on the same site today. Prior to that time the site was used as a seaplane school, which included a Quonset hut that was used for a clubhouse, and a seaplane ramp. TVA later donated the property to Knox County for recreational use from which CYC now leases the property. The year of the Club’s 50th anniversary a new clubhouse was constructed. Thistle sailors remain active in the club, having provided 13 of 25 Club Commodores to date.
The first Thistle Regatta was held in 1952 and named the Admiral Farragut Regatta in 1957. The famous Admiral, born in the Knoxville area, achieved fame in the Civil War for his words, “Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead.” The Thistle fleet now totals 20 Thistles, including 5 Thistles sailed by the Sea Scouts in Sea Scout Ship 300. Sea Scout Ship 300 began March 18, 2002 under the initiative of George Hubbell, a Thistle sailor of many years.
Volunteer efforts of the founders and “generations” of subsequent members have since added docks, moorings, and other facilities. In 1964 “indoor” restrooms were constructed and a porch connecting the restrooms to the Quonset hut was covered. The front porch was extended, and the porch with the grill was added in 1969. The restroom building was replaced in 1992. In 1972, the “Bob Brown Memorial Mast” was erected in memory of Bob, who served as Commodore from 1962 to 1964.
In June 1975, Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 12-9 was chartered with 28 Concord Yacht Club members. It was the second sailing flotilla to be formed in the United States.
In 1952 a club burgee was designed by Jones Smellage and approved by the charter members. In 1974, a contest was held to create a new burgee to fly from the Bob Brown Memorial Mast. Five or six entries were displayed for selection by membership vote. Mary Carpenter’s design of three red sails on a blue and white field was the winner. Hal Frincke subsequently produced a line drawing of the winning design and the burgee was registered in the American Registry of Yachts.
The Thistle fleet was chartered in 1951, followed by the Windmill fleet in 1962, Flying Junior fleet in 1963, Flying Dutchman fleet in 1964, Sunfish fleet in 1969, Laser fleet in 1972, Force 5 fleet in 1976, Catalina 22 fleet in 1982, and Lightning fleet in 1986.
Peder Johansen began the cruising class with his handcrafted Gypsy double-ender sloop in 1948. The cruising class started active racing as the Auxiliary fleet in 1970. Rapid growth of the Auxiliary fleet led to the construction of floating slips in 1977, and a marine railway in 1978. More floating slips were added in 1983 that provided accommodation for keelboats of various sizes.
Regatta history began with the Annual Admiral Farragut Regatta first held in 1952. The Dutch Treat Regatta for Windmills, Flying Juniors and Flying Dutchman began in 1964. The Flying Dutchman Fleet has since disbanded. Lasers scheduled their first regatta in 1973, and Sunfish in 1974. Force 5’s were added to the Laser Regatta in 1977. Lightning's had their first regatta in 1987. The Concord 300 Invitational Sea Scout Regatta held every two years began in June 2002.
CYC has several outreach programs to promote sailing in the Greater Knoxville Community. This effort includes a family sailing program, a sailing day-camp with four sessions through the summertime, several adult learn to sail programs, adult keelboat handling classes, University of Tennessee sailing team, Sea Scout Ship 300, part of the Boy Scouts of America, and a high school sailing program. For these programs, CYC has provided at considerable expense a fleet of Opti’s, JY-15’s, Sunfish, Catalina 22’s, use of a keelboat, race committee boat and extensive equipment, and several motorized safety boats.
Replacement of the Quonset hut and porches began in the fall of 2000. Members commissioned the new clubhouse with its expansive veranda on April 21, 2001.
Each year new facilities and improvements to the clubhouse, docks, and grounds are made by the club’s membership working together. As much as possible of the club’s maintenance and construction is produced by members volunteering their skills. In addition, these projects have contributed greatly to the comradery among its members.”