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The Burnham Park Yacht Club is one of the most active yacht clubs in the Chicago Area. Activities involve all facets of recreational boating including sail, power, educational and social. The sail fleet involves a variety of interests from pure racing to casual cruising. The club sponsors five offshore racing regattas each season.
The Club's history of participation in civic and public services projects is well known. From the early days continuing on till today, the Burnham Park Yacht Club has sponsored events that have provided enjoyment to many. Throughout its history the Club facilities are used for organizations that have association with boating and the Club has held hundreds of seminars that educate and foster knowledge of seamanship, rules of the road and yachting etiquette. The Club has for many years provided a junior sailing program that has taught the art of sailing to children throughout the Chicagoland Area.
Both the sail and power fleets present a variety of educational programs and seminars, which include navigation, racing, boating safety and proper boat handling.
The social activities are numerous; there are traditional parties such as New Year's Eve, Fourth of July and Christmas, as well as special events and functions such as Fleet Review and Theme Parties. The club also has a Women's Auxiliary Function. This very active group sponsors many social activities and events and ensures the decor and ambiance of the club.
The elected leadership of the club is composed of the commodore, vice commodore and rear commodore, as well as a nine-member board of trustees, a secretary and a treasurer. Burnham Park Yacht Club is heavily based on member involvement through its committee structure.
The operations of Burnham Park Yacht Club are led by our General Manager and a team of experienced, well trained employees. Our Executive Chef manages the galley as well as the informal setting of the Dinning Room.
Burnham Park Yacht Club is a full service yacht club with a traditionally decorated and attractive lounge and dining room. During the boating season, the club is open six days a week (closed Monday's) for lunch and dinner with a continental breakfast served on weekends and holidays. A full service breakfast is available for special weekends. During the off season months, the club is open for dinners on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. The Galley menu is both complete in its choice of entrees and reasonable in cost.
The very beautiful outdoor patio is enjoyed by the membership, weather permitting, liquid refreshments are served as well as meals in a more casual atmosphere. Adjacent to the club house building are the docks which provide water ice, pop and beer. Overnight mooring on a limited basis is also available as well as a hoist for mast stepping. The club has fully remodeled washroom facilities, which include showers for men and women and lockers are available.
The club also maintains tenders, which are available to the membership for transportation to their boats or anywhere in the harbor. This private service is available during the boating season to all members.
The Club's original objectives were "social pleasure and entertainment of its members; to promote owner construction of one-design boats and provide racing competition for these craft; to foster, develop and encourage Corinthian yachting on the Great Lakes and tributaries thereto in the United States of America." Since then our activities have expanded to include promoting ownership of many types of craft and using Club facilities in public service projects.
The Burnham Park Yacht Club had its early roots with the Gage Park Nautical Association whose members built boats at the Gage Park Field House, a Chicago Park District facility. In 1938, the Park District opened up Burnham Park Harbor for dingy sailing. The harbor had been originally built as a lagoon for the Chicago World's Fair, which was held in 1933. Large and protected, the harbor made an ideal location.
The Gage Park Nautical Association held a meeting, changed its name and was incorporated as the Burnham Park Yacht Club. The "Club" facilities in those early days were Spartan, to say the least, there were none. Club members would meet by the rocks directly next to the club, an area that is now known as Meigs Field, peel potatoes, prepare food and enjoy the camaraderie of their group.
This continued until 1941 when a portable warming shack became available that was located on the West Side of the harbor. This shack was relocated to the East Side on Northerly Island, was spruced up, heated, was powered with electricity and became the first "Clubhouse" of the Burnham Park Yacht Club. Over the next several years, the clubhouse and grounds were expanded upon, additions were built onto the original building, docks were installed on the harbor side, a parking lot was developed and fuel facilities were installed to serve boaters.
In 1948 plans were completed for a new clubhouse and on September 11, 1948 the cornerstone of the new building was laid. The Burnham Park Yacht Club arrived at a milestone: a clubhouse with all facilities and services. This served the Club until 1958 when a new clubhouse was designed and constructed and by the boating season of 1959, the Club had new, modern facilities to offer its membership. Since then, other alterations and improvements were made to the Clubhouse and today's Clubhouse is very attractive and the facilities continue to reflect the changing needs of its members.
The history of the Burnham Park Yacht Club goes far beyond brick and stone however. The promotion and participation of yachting has been at the forefront throughout the Club's history. Since the early days of its formation, the Club has been very active in sailboat racing and powerboat events. From the early days of dinghy racing in the harbor through one-design and off shore fleet activity, the Club has been very prominent holding a minimum of five well-attended regattas per season. Over the years, the membership has won its share of the silver. A current member held for many years the record for the fastest completion time of the Chicago to Mackinac Race and many of its former and current members are Chicago to Mackinac Race winners.
The Burnham Park Yacht Club was a charter member of the Chicago Yachting Association and several of its Past Commodores have served as Commodore of the CYA.
There are many past and present Club members who have held leadership positions with many local and national yachting associations and they have made significant contributions.
Today, as in 1938, people working together keep the Burnham Park Yacht Club strong and vital as the next moments of our history are lived.