The Beginning of OCSA & Portland Racing

A Brief History of CRYA and OCSA
By Nancy MacGregor

Portland Yacht Club’s (PYC’s) first official sailboat regatta was held in September 1931 and was part of the club’s Clubhouse Dedication festivities. Two years later, in 1933, the Columbia River Yachting Association (CRYA) was founded. The first CRYA President was PYC member Dr. Gordon Leitch Sr., skipper of the Snipe Wascana.

According to an old 1935 CRYA handbook, the Association’s mission “Shall be to encourage and promote the sailing and racing of yachts upon the waters of the Columbia River and its tributaries and to coordinate the yachting activities thereon and to give such supervisions as shall be necessary for the best interests of Corinthian competition.”

The original member clubs were Portland Yacht Club, Astoria Yacht Club, Longview Yacht Club, Hood River Yacht Club, The Dalles Yacht Club and Westport Boat Club. Rose City Yacht Club, founded in 1932, joined several years later.

The sailing one-design classes included CROD, Snipe, Bee, Flatties, Moth and others. There were two handicapped classes, white and blue.

CRYA continued to coordinate the local sailboat racing for the next 25 years. During the early 1950’s CRYA focus began to shift from sail to power. Predicted Log races were becoming very popular with powerboat skippers and more races were held.

Many of the racing sailors campaigned for a new organization, one whose mission was focused primarily on sailing. Three PYC sailors formulated a new yachting group in 1958; Oregon Corinthian Sailing Association. John Williams, skipper of the Flattie Charid; Duane Verger, skipper of 45’ Hasty and Robert A. Smith, skipper of the 28’ Mischief, were the lead organizers. OCSA’s burgee was designed by Wayne Bagley.

According to the May 1959 Portlight – “The purpose of the new organization is to form an association that will be a spokesman for the sailing group. It will promote sailing activities in Oregon, will serve to unite the efforts of other sailing groups, as well as the Sea Scouts. OCSA hopes to affiliate with CRYA, thus giving sailors a stronger voice in that association’s activities.”

OCSA’s first Commodore was Smith, and Williams served as Vice-Commodore. The Board consisted of Bud Beggs, Dirk Winters, Bruce Aschim, Bill Nickerson and Jim Canton. The new club planned several racing programs one of which being the North Pacific Ocean Race from Columbia River entrance to Port Angeles (commonly known as NorPac).

Presently, CRYA’s purpose is to serve as the central coordinator of member clubs’ cruising schedules, organizer of the annual Opening Day festivities and parade, to promote the development of new recreational boating facilities and to educate members on government rules effecting boats and boaters.

Today, OCSA’s mission, as published in the current racebook reads “The purpose of OCSA is to encourage and promote sailing events with an emphasis on racing. OCSA works toward better community awareness of sailing, water safety, and appreciation of sailing as a sport.” Ironically, this is very similar to CRYA’s original mission statement of 1933.

Reprinted with permission

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