Past Commodores


Leo Schlinkert, 2020-2021

Shortly after the completion of the new clubhouse and pier rebuild, the Covid Pandemic hit. In 2021 Noroton hosted both the Viper 640 North Americans and the Women’s Viper 640 Women’s Championship.

In 2021 former Commodore Sandy McDonald and his wife Gebby graciously offered to sell their home to the club, as it had a strategic location adjoining our tennis court. The Club acquired it, Jeff Eng retired, and Hank Wawryck was hired to take over as Captain.

"I learned to sail from my Dad in an O’Day Day Sailor at Lake Lanier Sailing Club outside Atlanta. When we first started racing, we were terrible, sometimes the Committee boat would have already pulled anchor and be in before we finished, but we kept at it and after a few years won our fair share of races. In college I raced J24s in regattas around the southeast and crewed tall ships in the Caribbean. After moving to Chicago, I raced Tartan 10s and J24s on Lake Michigan at the Chicago Yacht Club.  When Diane and I and our 3 boys moved to Darien in 1994 we joined Noroton Yacht Club, raced our J24 and cruised on our Sabre 42, Orion, every summer with our boys."


Thomas J. Ross III, 2018-2019

Noroton opened our new Clubhouse in May of 2018 with Wim Jessup as our new General Manager. The club now had 4 full time employees, a huge change from one Captain. To christen the new clubhouse Noroton hosted the Sonar North Americans, with 40 teams participating from around the country.    

As ever, the club worked to keep the physical plant in good shape. Most recently the rebuild of our flagpole foundation, a new hoist, the replacement of a large dry sail area drain and the refurbishment of our Ideal 18 fleet after 20 years of use. We introduced a new computerized point of sale system and implemented a new website.  

2 new fleets joined Noroton – the Sunfish Fleet entered with 2 boats and ended the season with 12, and the resurrected Radio controlled Laser Fleet is 12 strong with 4 club owned boats. Regattas were still a large part of the summer with the Sonar New England’s, Viper New England’s, JY New England’s and the Kirby Cup. To ensure sailing remains strong at Noroton, a long term strategic sailing plan was put in place under the leadership of Peter Wilson. The plan defined how we planned to position Noroton sailing for the next 10 years.  

Tom grew up at Noroton. At 12, he got his first job cleaning tables at the snack bar and graduated to being a launch operator. Tom initially raced a Laser, then graduated to a Sonar. Most recently he has joined the Sunfish fleet.


Margaret W. Hersam, 2016-2017

Peggy oversaw the demolition of the old building and the gradual construction of the new building.  Tents and flexibility kept the club running.  Racing at Noroton was still a major part of the program.  Noroton was at an all-time high in the team racing world with our Hinman Masters and Grand Masters Teams claiming titles in 2015 and 2016, and the Grand Masters in an undefeated position over 6 years. Noroton also continued to hold its place as the preeminent club for Sonar racing with Karl Ziegler taking 1st in the 2015 Sonar World Championships followed by Peter Galloway in 2017. 

 Among the juniors, racing was not for every everyone. So Noroton introduced the new Open Bic to the fleet, ushering in an alternative of “adventure sailing” for the less competitive sailors. 

Peggy’s family joined Noroton in the 1960s and they raced an Ensign every weekend.  Peggy sailed the old Dyer Dhows in the Junior program.  When her family moved away, she continued to sail during summer camp on Cape Cod. As an adult she moved back to Noroton and has sailed Sonars and been very active in team racing events.  Tennis has also been an important part of her life at Noroton as it has for so many sailors since the 1930s!  Her three children all went through the junior sailing program and will always consider Noroton their “other home”.

Early women team racers –Peggy Hersam, Carolyn Wilson, Melissa Shepstone, Jan Raymond and Andrea Kostanecki in Newport.

See Story: Team Racing at Noroton

Peggy Wilson Hersam and Jock McDonald


Lee Morrison, 2014-2015

To solidify Noroton as the home of the Sonar, the Kirby Cup Team Race Championships were moved permanently to Noroton. Sunday racing is still strong with peaks of 15 to 20 Sonars on the line. Our Masters and Grandmasters Teams were winning numerous championships, and in the Sonar Class Noroton was always on the podium. The new clubhouse is beautiful and built to withstand the hurricanes.

Lee is an avid Sonar sailor and team race skipper who has added cruising to his list of sailing activities. "My youngest memories of being on the water were going fishing with my dad.  Those experiences helped develop an aversion to fishing that I still maintain 60+ years later. In the background of this picture is my dad’s 16’ home made motorboat, Circe, at the Miramar Yacht Club, Brooklyn, NY.  Besides fishing, water skiing and going to Breezy Point to body surf were our main summer activities.  Eventually my brother Glenn (also a Noroton member) and I learned to sail on other member’s Dyer dinks, a passion that we still maintain to this day. My wife, Susan, and I met sailing on a 39’ racing sailboat, PB&J, and moved to Darien in 1982 to participate in Noroton’s newly formed J/24 Fleet."


Randy Tankoos, 2012-2013

Randy had always been involved with the construction projects at Noroton. This turned out to be the time to have somebody with Randy’s ability in the Commodore job.  Noroton was hit by Hurricane Sandy his first year in office.  This came right on top of the damage to the pier caused the year before by Irene necessitating the rebuilding of the main pier.
See Story: Hurricane Irene and Sandy

"My most vivid memory after Sandy was a meeting in the old library with the structural engineers who pronounced that the existing foundation was so bad the next big storm would put the building into the parking lot. This was the first step leading to building the new clubhouse. To counteract these problems, the club’s support of Rob Crane’s Olympic campaign was great. Noroton’s junior program had grown in complexity that Clemmie Everett became out first Sailing Director. The team racing at Noroton began to really take off."


Arthur Collins, 2009-2011

Art oversaw a critical time at Noroton. 

While life went on as usual for many things, life as usual was about to change. Noroton still hosted major events such as the Optimist Team Trials with 200 boats. Quite a feat for such a small club: coping with nature when an Osprey built their nest at the end of the Noroton pier, closing the pier down as the Osprey is an endangered species.

See Story: The Osprey Nest

Our longtime Club accountant Joan Frank passed away completing the transition from paper and pencil accounting to computer. Art was then asked to serve a 3rd year due to Vice Commodore Geissinger’s transfer. None of this prepared the club for Hurricane Irene (which took out the pier) and then Hurricane Sandy. 

See Story: Hurricane Irene and Sandy

Art was a Sonar sailor and also had a beautiful wooden 46 foot ketch “Trinity” which he and his family cruised extensively.

The Collins family has been members of Noroton YC since the 1940s when Art's grandfather joined. His father and uncle sailed Star boats at Noroton as high school boys. Art and his family joined in 1967, the year after the dry sail area was constructed. He sailed in the junior program in Blue Jays and Lightings and crewed for weekend racing in Tempests and Solings. The Collins family memberships have now reached the fifth generation and Art is looking forward to teaching his grandchildren to sail and be part of the Noroton traditions.


James R. Crane, 2007-2008

"Over the years the club had been renovated but around this time it was certainly feeling its age. It seems like a good portion of my time as Commodore was spent on maintenance. It was constantly ongoing, and Noroton was still primarily a volunteer club. I believe Jeff Eng was our only full-time employee and served as chief cook and bottle washer. With such a small staff the membership had to step up to make sure all our programs ran smoothly."

Jim is a champion racer beginning in the Lightning before he could see over the combing.  He went on to compete in numerous other fleets but continued to race the Lightning.

"I am a third-generation member of Noroton following my father and grandfather. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Columbia University's graduate school of business. Prior to Columbia I served as an officer in the US Navy being discharged as a Lieutenant JG. Sailing has been woven into my soul as I worked for North Sails for almost 20 years, sailing and racing in every part of the world. This love was ignited by a wonderful childhood sailing at Noroton and in the JSA of Long Island Sound. My wife Brenda is also an avid sailor. As life would have it, I met her at a Lightning regatta. Our children, Rob and Kelly, have also followed in our footsteps. Sailing is part of the Crane family."

Commodore Bob and Commodore Jim Crane


Edwin J. Sweeney, 2005-2006

Purchased Noroton’s first RIB, moving the club into an improved instructor boat.  Ed, having been part of every construction project at Noroton since he joined, again oversaw the rebuild of Noroton’s pier. Ed is a an active one design sailor in the Sonar Class.

"I grew up in Hingham, MA and sailed Tournabouts, 110s, and a new boat called a Laser! Sailed at Univ Notre Dame in FJs and soon after met my wife to be on a blind date on my family's Pearson 26 on Cape Cod. After moving to CT for a new job, I found out about Noroton YC from the Etties and Rob and Meg Campbell, who we met in the Norwalk Hospital maternity ward!"


J. Basil Lyden, 2003-2004

Citibank J24 Worlds 74 boats made up of former Olympic sailors and various class world champions representing 13 countries comprised our 2005 J/24 World’s competitors. Racing was so tight in the 9 race series, it took a tie breaker to declare the champion.  Basil is a one design sailor very active in both the Sonar fleet and Noroton Team Racing.

"I learned to sail at Larchmont Y.C. sailing Blue Jays, Lightnings, and even 505’s for a bit. My first experience coming to Noroton YC was at the 1966 Blue Jay Championships. The Baviers hosted us and it seemed that everyone we met knew and cared about the races. We really loved the hoists at this tiny club and couldn’t understand why big Larchmont Y.C. had such wimpy ones and a bumpy dry-sail area. I came back and had my best job ever teaching sailing at Noroton during college. This picture with driver Sally Campbell, Dave “Rat” Nightingale, and Rick Polhemus found me back at another Blue Jay Champs with much better hair than my old buzz cuts."


Carolyn McCurdy Wilson, 2001-2002

The First Sonar World Championships were held at Noroton despite the 9/11 attack the week before. The Paul Smart was showing its age, so the club built a new committee boat. This boat was named Volunteer to emphasize Noroton’s strong volunteer spirit.

Carolyn McCurdy Wilson grew up in Venezuela and moved with her family to Darien in 1953. She began sailing in the Noroton Junior program at the age of 13 in the wonderful era of the Lightnings. As an adult she was a member of the J24 and Sonar Fleets as well as an active member of Noroton's Team Race program.  Recently she has joined the Sunfish Fleet.

Commodore Dick McCurdy and Commodore Carolyn Wilson

During the week, she rode horses at Ox Ridge and sailed in the afternoon. The McCurdy family sailed on the weekends (both Saturdays and Sundays) at the very back of the Lightning fleet. Eventually her father bought a beautiful yawl called Mah Jong that was moored at the mouth of the harbor, just by Smith’s Reef.
See Story: Mah Jong – Memories of the Dragon Wagon

Peter Wilson and Carolyn McCurdy crewed together as junior sailors. Friends at first, they were eventually married in 1971 at high noon (later the name of their Cruising boats). The Wilson couple joined Noroton in 1982. 


James C. Linville 1999-2000

Woman’s Sailing once again formed, this time by Britt Hall. Jim was an active competitor in the Tempest, J24 and Sonar fleets as well as an avid saltwater flyfisher.

"I didn’t grow up sailing: the closest I came was a few summers at Camp Monomy where I’m sure I set foot in one of their sailboats but my biggest accomplishment was placing third in the breast stroke at a late summer swim meet. In my very early teens my father bought the family a Rhodes 18 that we kept at McMichael’s in Mamaroneck and pretty soon my brother Jack and I started racing it and kicked dad off the boat. He graciously decided to join Larchmont Yacht Club (we lived in landlocked Scarsdale) and Jack and I never looked back. In 1972 Vick and I got married and joined Noroton – a major hotbed of Tempest activity and much more suited to our laid back style – and of course became (over?) involved in the Club."

William S. Jayson, 1997-1998

Noroton hosted the Sonar North Americans, Vanguard 15 and Laser LIS Championships, the J-24 Columbus Day Regatta, the Ensign Regionals, the Cedar Point Challenge Cup, the Hipkins Trophy, the NYYC Team Race and the Red Cross/ Friends and Neighbor’s Race – all in addition to our regular club racing. With a break in tradition, champagne was served at the Commissioning reception, members could just say “charge it” for lunch at the snack bar, and free cold beer was served after racing from the “kegerator.” A record 23 boats met in Newport for the start of the Noroton cruise.

Bill learned to sail when he was 6 years old. "I went cruising with my family and in those days there was not much to do except sail the dinghy around the harbor when you got there. I did my junior sailing at Rocky Point Club starting in Moths, Cottontails, and eventually a Lightning. I moved on to big boat and offshore racing, sailing in everything up to Maxi Class yachts. I met Anne while working at Larchmont YC as a junior sailing instructor. After a short stint as members of American YC we moved to Rowayton and joined Noroton where I got back into One-design sailing."


Peter L. Wilson, 1995-1996

After taking on a $1 million loan for the 1992 Clubhouse rebuild, it became clear that we were not properly funding our depreciation. To fix this Noroton restructured the dues and assessments to earn a profit each year in order to add between $100 and $150 thousand to a capital reserve that would help fund major future projects like pier repair, a new committee boat and other likely upcoming needs.

After learning to sail in the Navy, Peter’s father moved his family to Darien in 1953 because wanted to live near a yacht club. The Wilsons joined Noroton where Peter sailed lapstrake dyer dinghies all week (3-4 kids to a boat) and Lightnings on the weekends with his parents. Peter crewed with Carolyn McCurdy for Kevin Jaffe, securing a win at the Junior Championships in 1958 and 1959 as well as the Sears Cup in Vancouver in 1958. Intercollegiate sailing for Princeton led to Naval service aboard a Destroyer in Vietnam, then ocean racing and the 1970 America's Cup. Marrying Carolyn in 1971 led to many sailing adventures: J24's (co-owned with the Linvilles), Sonars ("Spitfire" with Craig and Dave Sinclair), competing against one another in 2.4 meters, and Grand Masters team racing together for five years.



John P. Schultz, 1993-1994

A major storm hit the club in December of John’s first year as Commodore.  The main pier was damaged, and the first floor of the clubhouse was filled with sand from the beach. In true Noroton style, 75 members appeared without being asked to begin the cleanup. Also, it became apparent that the 30-year-old dry sail bulkhead needed to be replaced.
Noroton hosted the Area B Taylor Trophy for match racing as well as the Sonar North Americans as well as the US Match Racing Championship (Prince of Wales).

John and his wife Dianne took up sailing together, post college as young adults. All it took was one weekend of cruising on Dianne's uncle's boat and John was ready to buy his first boat. In 1972, they bought an O'Day Day Sailer, which they kept on the north shore of Long Island and drove up from central Jersey every weekend to sail. In 1976, John and Dianne sold the Day Sailer, and became partners in a Pearson 35 on which they cruised the intracoastal waterway as far south as Maryland. Around the same time they also joined the Brant Beach Yacht Club on Long Beach Island, NJ and began racing Mariners. In 1982 John got a new job in Stamford, CT so they sold both the Pearson and their Mariner and moved north. John had read about the Sonar and was interested in the fleet, so it didn't take long before he found his way to Noroton. John and Dianne officially joined the club 1983 and went on to own/race a series of Sonars. In retirement, John and Dianne returned cruising, this time on their powerboat Different Tack. They were members of Noroton up until 2017 when they moved to Seattle to be closer to their daughter, Tracey.


William M. Thomson, 1991-1992

Clubhouse construction made the building unusable for the summer. A tent was erected and life went on, including hosting the Ensign Nationals. This major undertaking once again preserved the Club’s basic character, traditions, and priorities. In an effort to make sure all members were involved, Anne Campbell and Carolyn Wilson started Sunbusters so younger children would make friends at Noroton and be comfortable going into the junior sailing program when they turned 8.  

Jeff Eng became the club Captain replacing Ed Devers.  

Bill was a dedicated one-design racer, first in the Tempest, then J24, then Sonars. See Story: J24 Down  

He grew up sailing at Stamford Yacht Club, and at 18 he contacted Bill Cox and said he was available to be a sailing instructor for the newly formed Noroton Junior Sailing program.

Bill and his brother Bob became Noroton’s first Junior Sailing Instructors.  

Although his job took him all over, every time he was transferred to the New York area he joined Noroton. Bill was one of the major drivers behind the Noroton History Book and the Roster of Champions. It is with great thanks to Bill that we have all this information today.


James R. Barker, 1989-1990

Jim navigated the first major rebuild of clubhouse which not only made the building sound but made the inside space more useful. Sliding glass doors opened up the lower living room to the terrace giving much more usable space. But this came at a cost. Each family member was assessed $5,000.  About 15% of the membership quit.

Jim actively raced his cruising boat Ishkoda and then became an active cruiser on his Grand Banks.

Jim agreed to be a Pirate during one Jr. Program treasure hunt.  He took his job very seriously.


Edward P. Clarke, 1987-1988

Sailing was booming during Ed’s time as Commodore. Noroton had a Sonar fleet of 29, a J24 fleet of 22 and an Ensign fleet of 11. Noroton hosted the US Youth Championships and then the 420 Nationals. Ed was always involved with the upkeep of the Club and during his time it was discovered that the sill of the club was 6” below grade. 

Ed was an active Sonar sailor. He was also the leader of the Master Builders. This was a group of members who got together in the fall and built many new floats and gangways for the club over the years.

See Story: The Master Builders 


Tor B. Arneberg, 1985-1986

Great improvements to the Club included a new pier and the purchase of Smarts Beach. During this time 5 members competed in the Olympics and 4 were directly involved in the America’s Cup. Tor was active in the Ensign and Sonar fleets.

Tor grew up in Oslo, Norway, where he honed both his sailing and skiing skills. He taught the Royal Children how to sail. Tor won a Silver Medal in the 1952 Summer Olympics and wanted to participate in Olympic skiing, but his Father thought it was time he went to work.

In 1971, the Arneberg family settled in Darien to be close to Noroton Yacht Club.  Tor competed in the Ensign, Soling and Sonar classes, skied his whole life and was an excellent tennis and paddle tennis player.

With sparkling blue eyes and a shock of white hair, he was known as the “Silver Fox”. Tor proclaimed that he wanted a single word on his tombstone: Sportsman.


David M. Sinclair, 1983-1984

“It never fails to amaze me how Noroton members sail hard against each other but then pull together when a job has to be done.” – Dave Sinclair

During Dave’s tenure, the Club was at full capacity with 229 members. A microcomputer system was bought to help with bookkeeping. Women’s sailing had 23 signed up, and they sailing sailed lasers and dinghies. Nun 28, where Noroton started all Saturday and Sunday racing for 30 years, was permanently removed from the end of Long Neck Point.

See Story: Nun 28

Dave grew up sailing in the Pennsylvania Poconos. He married Sue Widmann and they moved to Darien and joined Noroton in 1958. Dave continues to live in that same house. Dave was Noroton YC's first certified US Sailing Judge and served as a member of the LIS Appeals Committee for many years. Dave has always been an active one design sailor, first in the Lightning and then the Sonar fleets.


John 'Sandy' M. MacDonald, Jr., 1981-1982

Sandy established a senior membership category. Less active overall, seniors could therefore be counted differently in the total membership cap. This opened up spots for new members. Sandy was a very active one-design sailor in the Ensign and Sonar fleets. Noroton hosted the Sears Cup and was offered a group rate to buy J24s for the event. This established a new fleet which competed with the new boat designed by Bruce Kirby the year before.  

Andrew A. Schultz, 1979-1980

Andy approved the acceptance of non-member children into the Junior program for first time. A new Race Committee Boat was acquired and named Paul Smart to honor the Club’s founder who died the year before.


Stephen E. Nightingale, 1977-1978

At the Club’s request, Bruce Kirby created a one design family racer tentatively titled “23.” Eventually, this boat would come to be called the Sonar and Noroton would boast the #1 Sonar fleet on the Sound. Once again Women’s Sailing formed, this time participants sailed in Blue Jays and Lasers. 1978 marked Noroton’s 50th anniversary and many members signed up for a cruise in the Virgin Islands to celebrate.

Steve started sailing (and fishing) in Saunderstown, RI. 

He met his wife Sally there, and she crewed for him regularly in their teens. After they were married, they moved from West Virginia to Darien in 1952. Steve began frostbiting at Noroton and then became an active member of the Club. He raced a Jet 14 and Lightning before co-owning Winsome, a C&C 30 with Doug Campbell in the 1970s. He and Sally traveled extensively in their later years, chartering boats and touring with the Cranes, Polhemuses, Rosses, and Clarkes.


Douglas G. Campbell, 1975-1976

Doug overturned the long-standing prohibition of liquor at the club. In 1974, the Board agreed to allow members to bring their own alcohol, but only after 6:00 PM and within designated spaces. Even within these parameters, bottles had to be kept out of sight.

Doug and his four brothers grew up sailing at Noroton YC in the 1940s, commuting from New Canaan and even sleeping on their boats some weeks to save gas rations. Doug competed in all fleets, but his true love was his series of Star boats as well as his father’s sloop, The Brant. Doug met and married Sandra Woodworth who also sailed at Noroton and even lived there when her father was the club manager. Doug and Sandra spent the next 70 years racing, cruising, raising four sailors and even living aboard their “Campbell 42” for 12 winters.


Robert B. Polhemus, 1973-1974

As Commodore, Bob oversaw the purchase of a new Committee Boat, the reformation of the Ladies sailing program and the creation of a Darien High School sailing team hosted by Noroton. Bob sailed Ravens, then Lightnings, and finally Sonars.

He is a man who brought much more to the club than just leadership. He raced most weekends whether it was in Ravens, Lightnings or Sonars. On top of that all of us who were lucky enough to know him benefited from his great smile and love of life. We will miss him and listening to Hello Dolly will never be the same.


Denis B. Kemball-Cook, 1971-1972

The club’s total revenue reached $101,000. Disbursements totaled $87,500. Denis led the decision to build a Captain’s apartment in the clubhouse.

Denis was a member of the first eight-man crew while at Oxford University. He and his family moved to Darien in 1957 and joined Noroton Yacht Club. Outside of yachting, Denis was renowned for his ability to sing any Gilbert and Sullivan song, his affinity for writing clever double acrostic puzzles, and for the HO gauge train set that ran through his extensive wine cellar. He could often be seen driving around the Bay in a Mercedes convertible nicknamed “The Red Baron.”

Denis Kemball-Cook – first row far right


Eric R. Hansen, 1969-1970

Eric Hansen hired Noroton’s first year-round captain, Ed Devers. During his term, the workshop shed was built to replace “the black hole.” This was the workshop used by the Captain and launch drivers. It was situated under the Upper Living Room floor of the old clubhouse and often flooded. Hansen was a very active member of Noroton’s cruising fleet.

See Story: Recollections of an Ancient Launch Driver


Robert N. Bavier, Jr., 1967-1968

During Bob’s tenure, membership interest was three times the available openings. A proposal to build two paddle courts was turned down as it would take up too many parking spaces. Sailing was reconfirmed as the primary mission and purpose of the club with discussions of additional tennis courts and a pool being tabled. The brief women’s sailing venture (The Wind Bags) was disbanded.

Bob was from New Rochelle and sailed out of Larchmont YC as a child. He spent his first year of marriage living in New Rochelle, but moved to Rowayton and later Darien because of the sailing reputation of Noroton YC. The move also likely had to do with the lower cost of living in Rowayton/Darien vs. New York before I-95 was built. Bob was the Publisher and President of Yachting Magazine for many years as well as the winning skipper of Constellation in the 1964 America’s Cup. He was known for playing the harmonica and loved singing.


Robert B. Crane, 1965-1966

Captain resigned mid-season and member Bob Wells, about 16 years old and a launch driver at the time became in charge of the waterfront. Annual dues were $200. 
See Story: Recollections of an Ancient Launch Driver

Bob Crane and Jim Crane

Bob was the swim coach, tennis instructor and sailing coach at the Club all in the same year when he was in his teens.


Renwick E. Case, 1963-1964

Noroton starts an Ensign fleet which will build to a peak of 21 boats in the late 1070s. Three members of this class have become Commodores:  Sandy McDonald, Tor Arneberg and Jim Barker. Ladies Sailing is organized, and they called themselves the Wind Bags. The harbor was dredged and what came out of the anchorage was put inside the bulkhead.    

Two Noroton members, Bob Bavier and Bill Cox, were battling each other in the America’s Cup. “After 20 minutes on the starboard tack, during which she was going very well, Cox put Eagle about. Bavier, sailing Constellation, quickly tacked on his lee bow and Cox was compelled to go about again to get away from the disturbed air.”

Bill Cox (top photo) Versus Bob Bavier (bottom photo)


Richard 'Dick' C. McCurdy, 1961-1962

Dick McCurdy was responsible for the decision to build the dry sail area instead of a pool. Noroton built the first dry sail area on Long Island Sound. Some members, including active sailors and even a past Commodore, quit over the decision. During his term, club members rather than the club’s captain began to run weekend races.

Dick McCurdy sailed star boats in Maracaibo, Venezuela before moving to Darien in 1953. As the boats in Venezuela were wooden and the waters full of Teredo worms, the practice he was accustomed to was to dry sail the vessels and only put them into the water on race days. As a result of his experience, Dick led the Club to build the dry sail facility in 1964. While he raced lightnings, his real love was big boats. In 1964, he bought Mah Jong, a 52-foot Sparkman and Stephens mahogany and teak ketch built in Hong Kong.

See Story: Mah Jong – Memories of the Dragon Wagon

He cruised and raced Mah Jong, even in the Corinthian single-handed races. In 1979, when a Force 10 storm hit the boats in the Fastnet Race causing 18 people to die and five boats to sink, McCurdy decided to discover what design factors most impacted stability. With his son Rich and other CCA members Dick developed a method to determine a boat’s stability for incorporation into its measurement certificate. While this led to the very successful IMS rating system, the real benefit was increased stability in new boat designs.  


Thomas J. Ross, Jr., 1959-1960

Tom joined the club and within a couple of years was made Commodore. As many young families moved to Darien at the end of the war, it was time for a younger leader who understood the needs of his contemporaries. But some things were slow to change. In 1959 after racing tea was still served hot by the Commodore’s wife, “wearing her hat of course”.  Ross was one of five commodores to serve more than two years as he took over Howard Earl’s term once Earl moved to Florida. Tom led the process of rebuilding the tennis courts and changing the surface from clay to HarTru. Tom grew up racing sailboats in Great South Bay and moved to Darien to be near the water. He and his wife had 7 children in all and the family crewed on their Lightning, Grand Slam.

Tom Ross, Jr., Andree Somers July 1941, Patchogue, L.I. 


Howard I. Earl, 1958

Although he only served as Commodore for one year before relocating to Florida, Howard Earl’s tenure is notable for denying a request to purchase 11 ½ acres on Shipway Road at a cost of $30,000 to establish additional tennis courts. The request was turned down because it did not support the primary objective of the Club.


Purcell O'Gorman, 1956-1957

Purcell “Purcy” O’Gorman also turned down request for paddle court in order to keep the focus of the club on sailing. Purcy was a major supporter of the Noroton Junior Program. 


John W. Clark, 1954-1955

Noroton Race Week for Stars became a weekend event. The Club acquired full ownership of the land that had been leased from the Noroton Holding Company for $31,000.


Oscar O. Widmann, 1952-1953

Range lights were installed so boats could navigate the channel at night.  Membership has increased to 160. The Cruising fleet was established. There was a heated debate on whether or not to have a bar.

Oscar grew up in Brooklyn Heights and came to Darien for summers when he and Marian were starting a family. He then built a house near the shore in Darien in the early 30s and sailed out of Scott’s Cove. He joined Noroton Yacht Club in the early 40s and started his young family sailing: Tony in the Star class, with Susan and then Sandy following in the Dyer 10s. Eventually, all three progressed through to the Lightning class. Noroton provided the base for his family’s lifelong passion for competitive racing and cruising.


Herbert N. Repp, 1950-1951

Herb was responsible for purchasing two additional lots to use for member parking. Member interest in installing a swimming pool was turned down as both too costly and an engineering impossibility.

Bill Cox, Sr. began the Junior Sailing Program in 1949 with Bill and Bob Thomson as the Program’s first sailing instructors.


Harold C. Nash, 1948-1949

The Lightning, a centerboard boat designed by Sparkman and Stephens “with the addition of something called a spinnaker” was introduced. Rapid growth was seen at Noroton and all other Long Island Sound clubs.  

The club spent $1,700 to buy a launch. The club deficit was cleared up with voluntary donations.

William A. Richardson, 1945-1947

In his Star

Membership capacity was raised from 100 members to 150, and dues were increased to $75 with tennis and boating included. The Dyer Dinghy arrived and became the junior boat, replacing the Wee Scott.
Captain Norman Boyce joined the staff. Captain Boyce was to work at Noroton for 15 years until Ed Devers became Captain.

Gordon C. Aymar, 1942-1944

When Paul Smart decided to retire as Commodore the club officers selected Gordon Aymar, a friend and neighbor of Mr. Smart and also known socially by many club members. Although not a club member at the time, he lived close by, was interested in sailing, and had no war obligations. So the officers made him a member and unanimously elected him Commodore in the same meeting. His job was to keep the club running despite lean times. The Membership cap was set at 150, with annual dues of $25, or $35 with tennis and sailing included.
See Story: Gordon Aymar's Watch

Gordon was a nationally known art director and portrait artist, He was also a writer and illustrator. His books on sailing and the sea included: Michael Sails the Mud HenStart’um SailingThe Second Book on SailingA Treasury of Sea Stories, and seven editions of Yacht Racing Rules and Tactics, the primary rules reference for North American racing skippers in the 1960’s and 1970’s. 


Paul H. Smart, 1928-1941

Despite not knowing how to sail, Smart founded the nascent Noroton Yacht Club in 1928. 20 years later, Smart crewed for his son, winning Olympic gold in the Star class. Smart wrote the original deeds for the land parcels purchased by the Noroton Bay Property Company. These would eventually become Noroton Yacht Club. Except for three of the lots on which the clubhouse was built, the deeds prohibited sale of alcoholic beverages.


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