The current construction of a new sailboat house will bring Harvard sailing into the twentieth century. At an estimated cost of $250,000, financed through private donations, the building will open next spring. The unique barge structure, replacing the old floats near the Mass. Ave. bridge, will be the first real home for Harvard's small dinghy fleet.
The building is conveniently located at the foot of Wadsworth Street near the MIT faculty club on Memorial Drive, just one and a half blocks from the Kendall Square subway station. It represents the most advanced accommodations for any collegiate sailing program in the country. With the enlarged storage capacity of 45 boats, there will be a room to expand beyond the present fleet size of 21 boats, 15 Interclub dinghies and 6 Finn dinghies. When funds materialize, the yacht club plans to purchase a fleet of small class sloops also suitable for the recreational sailor. But more importantly, better care can be maintained on the present fleet which has always been stored outside on the old floats.
The yacht club will be able to accommodate the rising demand on the sailing facilities. This fall alone membership has expanded from 125 to 185 members from the same period last year.
For the over 400 club members in the fall, spring and summer seasons, more efficient instruction will be offered through lectures and better centralized equipment and launching areas. More varied instruction is planned with the dinghy fleet and hopefully in the near future, for the sloops.
The most outstanding structural features are a floating barge-like foundation. vertical boat handling storage system. and swinging docking floats that enable easy leeward landings from any wind direction. Instead of the traditional piling supports, the new boathouse is built on a floating steel barge.
According to F. Gregg Bemis '22, fundraising chairman, the advantages of such a construction are many. In addition to cheaper initial costs of construction and maintenance, he points out practically that the floor of the facility will be at a constant height above water level, which will ease access to the floats and handling of the boats.
But the vertical storage system designed by Sailing Master Walter Everett will revolutionize boat handling. When financed and installed the overhead meat rack rail will be able to place into storage forty-five boats in a space that previously would only hold twelve. Even though $20,000 is still badly needed to purchase the machinery, it is estimated that this new system will save $70,000 in construction costs alone. Bemis said of the new simplicity of boat handling. "One man can launch or haul and store a boat unaided, and any boat can be selected for launching no matter where stored."
Sailing coach Mike Horn is particularly enthusiastic about the floats, also conceived by Walter Everett. The ability to manuever the floats into the wind greatly eases docking facilities for sailboats which must head into the wind to stop and dock. In addition both sides of the seven sixteen-foot sections of floats can be utilized to make over 100 feet of space on each side. The segments, which absorb waves more smoothly than one continuous span can be dismantled and piled on top of each other for easy storage in the winter.
Architect Sherman Morss of Shepley, Bulfinch Richardson, and Abbott paid meticulous attention to details to make this floating cube the Rolls Royce of collegiate boating facilities The fully heated building has a committee protest and reception room, a complete shop that can handle all repairs necessary on the fleet a kitchen and complete bathroom facilities (including shower) for both men and women.
The construction of the new boathouse has been realized by the guiding hand of Bemis, internationally famous as the Dean of American yachting and rule expert for racing. Through his guidance Bemis has overseen the fund-raising and construction of this first sailboat house for Harvard. He has drawn upon his vast circle of friendships and colleagues to sell the project Modestly he credits the moral support of the University and Dept. of Athletics and the substantial contribution of Harold S. Vanderbilt '07 as the prime movers.
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