Seventy years of battles for the broom

Published on September 15th, 2021

While the big events on the Chesapeake Bay tend to come from Annapolis Yacht Club, Eastport Yacht Club, of Severn Sailing Association, Tom Price offers this tale from two other organizations along the western shore.

Not many team racing events between two clubs have such a wonderful history. Seventy years is a long time to compete for a worthless old broom.

The story goes that in 1951, at a well-lubricated raft with members of the Gibson Island Yacht Squadron and the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, a discussion ensued about inter-club racing. Challenges were thrown out along with offers of “sailing lessons” and an offer of a candle so that the losing team could find their way back after finishing so late.

As one club boasted of a “clean sweep” of races, a waterlogged old worn out broom drifted by. The sweeper was fished out of the harbor and it became the sought after prize for a team race with three boats from each club. I’m sure that no one from either club dreamed it would still be enthusiastically competed.

For the first few decades, The Broom was competed for by similar rated cruising boats. Tight racing was done between beautiful NY 32 sloops and Owens Cutters owned by club members. Very humorous and pleasantly insulting challenge letters were a wonderful part of instigating each year’s event.

Later it was one designs such as the J/30 that were used with the host club providing the boats. Gibson Island has a long history of one design keelboat fleets and the event was held in their Ensigns, J/22s and more recently the lovely International 210s.

One year it was proposed that The Broom be competed in two visiting 12 Metres, American Eagle and Weatherly.

This year the event was raced for the first time in Gibson Island’s new fleet of Sonars. These very evenly matched boats were perfect for this type of racing. In a hard fought series on September 11, Gibson Island was victorious 3-1 in the best of five event.

The event received an official “Proclamation” by Maryland Governor Hogan, and with great ceremony the old broom, looking a bit ragged, will be dressed with the GIYS burgee for the year.

Note: Tom Price is the Sailing Director for Gibson Island Yacht Squadron.

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