Saturday, May 30, 2015

One Hundred Years: The Boys of the Genesee Dinghy Club

One hundred years ago, on this day, May 30, Decoration Day in the United States (the precursor to Memorial Day), the racers of the Genesee Dinghy Club started their 1915 season in new digs. They had moved east across the Genesee River to Summerville, a lakefront suburb of Rochester, New York. Their little club of dinghy lockers was now sandwiched between Popp's Inn and the U.S LifeSaving Station, just off the beach.

It would be a good move. Launching from the beach was now mostly protected by the jetty that extended out from the Genesee River. If Lake Ontario turned too gnarly, racing could be pulled under the jetty as well. The club would grow their fleet of Genesee Dinghies over the next five years to about twenty with ten to fourteen making it to the starting line on any one day.

The Genesee Dinghy was twelve feet long, about five feet wide, a cat boat, with a low aspect gunter rig of around 90 square feet. It originally started off as a copy of Toronto's 1898 Morse dinghy but, as a development class, it quickly morphed into a different craft. The Genesee Dinghy was raced singlehanded, a true novelty in the early 1900's, and they raced on open water, another novelty, but also considered extremely foolhardy for the dinghy racer of the early 1900's.

By 1915 Canada was already enmeshed in the Great War and America was two years away from joining the fight. At least two of the Genesee Dinghy Club members were to fight on the Western front.

From the Emerson collection, here is a photo montage of some sailors from the Genesee Dinghy Club - America's first die-hard dinghy racers.


Tillerman said...

Did Fred A. Mabbett every sail there?

Bill said...

We need hats like that!!

Tweezerman said...


As far as I can determine, Fred Mabbett was not a member of the Genesee Dinghy Club. As mentioned before Fred Mabbett was a commodore of the Rochester Y.C.. He also sailed in Rochester Yacht Club's first dinghy fleet of 1900 which was only active for one year. Fred did donate the Mabbett trophy to the Genesee Dinghy Club which was awarded to the winner of the season's championship. I haven't checked but I think the Mabbett trophy may still exist somewhere in storage at the Rochester Y.C.

Tweezerman said...


I don't know what style you call those hats (bell hop hats? steward hats? captain hats?) but you are right - it would be cool to sport them after sailboat racing.

Amy Smith Linton said...

That's a nice spot, but I for most of the time, I think a wool watchcap is required. Brrrrr.