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Keeping Up With Traditions

By Graeme Lowe, Rear Commodore

One of the neat things about being on the Board of Directors is that, at any given time and for any given event, you're usually privy to a plenitude of opinions and suggestions. Many of those folks "with opinions" have been members of the club for a long time while some are newer. But regardless of tenure, there is generally no shortage of strong thoughts on what our club traditions are (or, perhaps more importantly to some, what they should be). This was certainly true of the 50th Annual Wheeler Memorial Regatta, with its hallowed traditions of oysters on the half shell, Oysters Rockefeller, and jumbo shrimp alongside the honorary beverage of the weekend, the humble yet up-for-the-challenge margarita. Add live music, and you’ve got a recipe for a truly wonderful weekend. But in the midst of all the brew-ha-ha leading up to the Wheeler, I neglected to do my usual sussing out of those in the know about the next event on the club’s social calendar: Opening Day on the Bay. That’s not to say I ignored it completely, but I was greeted by a very unusual lack of the traditional "opinions and suggestions" whenever I asked folks what we had done in the past and what we should do this year.

Most people I spoke with had no first-hand knowledge, and only a few knew any of the components that had been incorporated in years past. There was, apparently, something to do with waffles. There was a blessing of the fleet. And there was a parade of boats on the San Francisco waterfront. One year recently there was even a chili cook-off. How it all fit together, though, nobody I spoke with seemed to know.

As a rookie on the board, I try to err on the side of cultivating tradition, but how could I if I didn't even know what the traditions were?!?! And by the time Wheeler was behind us, Opening Day on the Bay was less than two weeks away.

So, I did what anyone trying to plan an event on short order would do and turned to the internet for inspiration. Having socialized a few versions of an itinerary among club mates, we landed on a schedule of a couple time-honored traditions and a couple wild cards.

We landed on waffles, vessel christenings, a sail past of the Commodore’s vessel, and sunset toasts to the upcoming sailing season. But at this point it was all feeling a bit light on tradition.

In a stroke of luck, the keepers of the Opening Day on the Bay waffle tradition proactively reached out to ask if help was needed. And not only that, they stepped up to bring their waffle makers and waffle making expertise for the breakfast. And that was the secret ingredient that made this year's waffle breakfast so special: the tradition...of vintage waffle makers lovingly maintained and proffered for club use, of father and son cranking out delicious waffles like it was something to strive for. It was a lovely morning made all the more special by a few BYC members who chose to step up.

A special thank you Staff Commodore Steve Crawford, Toby Crawford, and Staff Commodore John C. Danielson for being the caretakers of waffle breakfast!

This year’s event was a mix of tradition and experiment, but I will be there next year to kindly but firmly suggest the Commodore’s sail-past is a tradition...right up there with waffles.

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