Beverly Yacht Club rides the wave to 150 years

Sep 26, 2022

MARION — Four hurricanes, four clubhouses and 150 years later, the Beverly Yacht Club is going strong at its home in Marion.

And for the first time in the club’s history, all three of the club’s executive offices are occupied by women. 

The offices are held by Rear Commodore Kym Lee, Vice Commodore Mary Pierce, and Commodore Debra Gayle-Malone. 

For Gayle-Malone, Commodore of the Beverly Yacht Club, the club’s leadership is more reflective of the commitment of individual members “who happen to be women.”

“We look at it as there are three people that are very involved in the sport at various levels,” said Gayle-Malone. “Whether it's offshore cruising and racing and race management.”

The club was founded in 1872 by Walter Burgess, Franklin Dexter and William Whitney, three sailors who were unhappy with policies put in place by the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead.

Beverly Yacht Club was a founding member of the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Newport and is one of the oldest yacht clubs in the United States. 

After brief stints at clubhouses in Pocasset, Butlers Point and Barden’s Boatyard in Marion, the members of the Beverly Yacht Club settled into the “Register House” on Water Street in Marion. 

According to Gayle-Malone, the club has been at its Water Street location for over 50 years — the longest time the club has been in one place. 

And the club’s Marion location attracted many of its current members. According to Gayle-Malone, much of the club’s membership is made up of seasonal or year-round Tri-town residents, with about 20 members from farther away locations, such as Carver and Plymouth. 

Gayle-Malone permanently moved to Marion in 1995 after being involved in the boating scene as one of the town’s summer residents. 

She began her involvement with the club as a volunteer on the club’s race committee until she took on the role of secretary in 2011. After that, she moved up the ranks to treasurer, Rear Commodore, then Vice-Commodore before beginning her two-year term as Commodore.  

Going forward, the club has no significant plans to expand, only to improve what already exists. 

“I think one of the themes that we've had this whole year is looking at the past and the present, and looking towards our future. What you see is what you get,” said Gayle-Malone, who said that right now the club is focused on maintaining its assets. 

What the club offers now, said Gayle-Malone, are near daily races during the summer season, a scholarship program for students and the impressive history of being a part of a storied club. 

Gayle-Malone said she was “overcome with pride” when she first visited the National Sailing Hall of Fame and saw her club’s flag flying. 

“I had a chill run down my spine with such a sense of pride that we have been around for 150 years,” she recounted tearfully.