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Jackets Not Required

Posted on 04 October 2010

Jeffrey Mansfield and members of the Mecox Sailing Association are hoping to restore a way of life in the form of the old Mecox Yacht Club, which is now little more than a tumbledown shack on an overgrown piece of town owned property at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill.

While the term “yacht club” immediately conjures up images of blue blazers, cocktail hour and snobbish exclusivity, Mansfield’s idea is far more modest — to resurrect the defunct Mecox Yacht Club of his youth which offered summer sailing lessons and was little more than a storage shed for a handful of 14’ Sunfish sailboats and equipment.

The club, in fact, had a long history in the area. In the1930s, long before many of the owners of the giant mansions that now line Mecox Bay were even born, there existed open views — an expanse of water unmarred by development. It was a place anyone, regardless of bank account or celebrity status, could enjoy. And then there was that “yacht club” whose mission was to teach local kids how to sail each summer.

Of course we live not in the 1930s, but in the litigious tens, and, citing a claim of traffic fears,18 neighbors have banned together and hired an attorney to fight Mansfield’s proposal. We suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s disheartening nonetheless and evocative of the “now that I have mine, I’ll do anything I can to keep you from getting yours” philosophy we’ve seen so much of in recent years — usually from those who have the most.

But let’s look at the facts…unless they come from a position of privilege, there are precious few opportunities these days for kids to get out on the water. The old Mecox Yacht Club made it a point to teach local children how to sail in the summers. We feel that’s an admirable mission and one that should be revived. Seeing a group of sailboats silently gliding across a body of water is a defining experience on the East End. We encourage Mansfield to follow the model of Sag Harbor’s Breakwater Yacht Club, a non-profit organization that charges modest fees to teach sailing to the community and also runs weekly races.

Mansfield’s already got the backing of both the Water Mill and the Bridgehampton CACs for his plan. He’s got ours too and we welcome the revitalization of the Mecox Yacht Club with open yardarms


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