Chit-Chat: In the Lead?

Can anybody identify the people or boat in this photo, or the year or even the decade? The only identification on the back of the photo in the Westhampton Beach Historical Society's collection is:

"In The Lead, catboat racing, Wm H. Winters Real Estate & Insurance Book. "

Meaning it was from a calendar of old photos put out by Bill Winters sometime back when. The boat is flying a Shinnecock Yacht Club flag.

My only guess, time-wise, is that the crew and the photo look somewhat like the same
vintage as photos from the very early 1900s.

Any thoughts? - Merry

Note: you can click on photo for a larger view.


  1. Hi Meredith, I may be able to help out in a small way if someone could estimate, fairly accurately, the over all length. During that era, 1906-1909, there were five Yacht Clubs and the catboats were broken down into four classes. A, B. AA, BB. A was over 19 feet, B was under 19 feet, however, under 17.5 feet would be considered 17.5 feet, AA was over 19 feet with a minimum of overhangs equal to 25% or more of the length overall and BB was under 19 feet with a minimum of overhangs equal to or greater than 25% or more of the length overall. The reason I have to know the length is I can look up all boats from all 5 Yacht Clubs, names and numbers of boats and owners. Mayabe someone could narrow it down from there.
    By the way, I should be receiving my SS Centennial Race DVD any day. I took two, half hour videos from the dock and one, half video from the air. Also, thirteen aerial photos which are going to be incorporated into the video. I decided to send them out to be professionaly edited and made into one DVD. I'll let you know when I receive it. Very Truly Yours, Don

  2. Do not really recall the R.E .Agency for which Sis Rice worked I think she was associated with a Vince Reilly, a Remsenburg resident. it would be the 1970/80 period.

    There is a mark on the sail of that BB cat in your emaill that is similar to one on the sail of the Atwater BB Billy Boy as shown on page 44 of your Dad's History of the WYS. Is there a survivor agency to the William H. Winters one?

    How exciting and challenging to try and reconstruct the past. Yet we can learn alot by doing it. keep me posted. D.B.

  3. Well, it wouldn't be "Bill Winters" (born 1911), but his father, who was William H. Winters. Had the real estate and insurance office on the south side of Main Street next to Oakie Overton, the jeweler, just East of the Winters family house which now houses Margarita Cafe. Wm H. married my great aunt Edith Griffing.

    Can't make out the faces, but the one seated just forward of the helmsman looks like Josef Stalin.

    The manner of dress, the helmsman and the one furthest forward in particular, looks to be from the teens or the '20s.

    The boat looks to be 26-28 feet, and I have no idea what it might be... what were the "P" series that were around 80-90 years ago?

    - ds

  4. Thanks, Merry, for sending this great foto. Loved it and the boat. We should be racing this class at the SYC today instead of the Celebrities. ~ Gratefully, Jim

  5. It is an "AA" Class catboat and their heyday was around 1900. They were about 28' long and were sailed by a crew of 5. "AA" differentiated them from the prior "A" class which were plumb stem boats, whereas the AA was spoon bowed, slightly longer, and as the picture shows very low wooded aft. There were about four of them racing at Shinnecock at the turn of the last century, the most successful of which was called "Memory", owned by a family named Muller. This is a very nice picture, but the identity of the boat, since it shows no number, will remain obscured in the mists of time.

    Dean's right, the helsman does resemble Josef Stalin, but perhaps he could also be Lord Kitchener.


  6. Dear G, Kindly, don't be offended by this Email but I got my information from the official "Yacht Racing Association of Southeastern Long Island, 1909" book. My classifications were quoted from "racing rules" Rule VIII page 46. There is no mention of stem type regarding classification. I would be curious to know where you got your information from.

    In the book, by-laws, racing schedule, racing rules, etc. etc. there are nine boats, class AA listed from Shinnecock Yacht Club. The "Memory", owned by the Muller family is listed in four races, however, it is certainly not "the most successful" as you termed it. It finished next to last, third to last, second and fifth, out of seventh.

    I do agree with you and Dean about one of the crew resembling Josef Stalin. Thank You. Very Truly Yours, Don

  7. I suggested he read your father's book, it's all in there and also in the old SYC records which reside in an undisclosed location somewhere in our attic. Don't have time for a research project on this at the moment but quite certain. Too bad Conklin died, he could have recited all the boat names from memory.


  8. If it's an Adelaide, it must be an early one. I don't think the burgee is out of place since I think T.E. was a member of Shinnecock, and if it isn't Louie Nichols, it might be a predecessor. I can't remember how long he worked at Meadowcroft, but I don't think he was there prior to WWI. I could be mistaken. Ted Conklin III

  9. I caught a break and found Stan Medina's history of the WYS in our library, it's all there on pp 40-1. There are also about 15 related pictures which Conklin gave to SYC which are displayed in the clubhouse, although they are no longer in great condition. G

  10. I hope I can get a copy of Don's Centennial DVD. My mouth is watering.

    I started visiting my aunt and uncle in Westhampton when I was a child, during WWII. I still remember the Thunderbolts and the noisy steam engines on the railroad. My cousin Buddy won some races on Quantuck Bay in the SS123. The other sailors would pick the winner up, carry him on to the dock and drop him in the bay. I wonder if that custom still persists?
    Buddy was good with the SS. If there wasn't any wind, he could row it, sort of. One time he put an oar in the stern, and sculled the boat to the beach club to pick us up. It was a long trip.
    Philip Martin

  11. I think that the mystery catboat is a Gil Smith "P Cat". Everythinbg about the boat is Gil Smith and the "P Cats" were that size and had that spoon bow. Anyone disagree or agree?