Orient Yacht Club in its 80th year on the water

08/18/2013 10:21 AM |

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Food and drink were plentiful at the Orient Yacht Club 80th anniversary celebration.

With the setting sun as its backdrop, members of the Orient Yacht Club celebrated the organization’s 80th anniversary Saturday night. More than 150 people gathered to enjoy music, cocktails and a full course dinner orchestrated by member and cooking enthusiast Alex Erey.

Mr. Erey, originally from Turkey, joined the club three years ago and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere and the people, he said.

“It’s one of the few clubs that are not snotty,” Mr. Erey said. “Everyone adopted me. I’m delighted”

To celebrate the milestone, he prepared all of the event’s five appetizers, five dinner options and dessert at his East Marion home. The club’s small kitchen was just enough to keep the food warm and guests satisfied all evening.

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Organizer Carl Valentino (left) and Commodore Peter McGreevy celebrate OYC’s 80th anniversary.

Mr. Erey’s willingness to throw open his doors to support the OYC is a throw back to the club’s early days, when members, who founded the club in 1932,  held meetings in their living rooms before the current location on the outer end of the Wharf was converted in 1938.

The club’s now well-known sailing program also began in a very informal way in the 1950s with a steward conducting the lessons and has evolved into a professional instructional program with its own staff and boats.

Over the years the club has run many different types reflecting the changing interest of its sailing members. The club’s oldest continuously awarded trophy is the Loon, given for a particularly outstanding nautical goof.

“The club has come a long way from its days as a potato barn,”said OYC commodore Peter McGreevy. “It’s a cornerstone of Orient. It is very much about the community.”

Longtime member Carolyn Matalene agreed.

“It’s the best club on the East Coast,” she said. “Sometimes I call it the potato dock yacht club. It’s the only one where you can stand on the wharf and watch the races.”