April 28, 2017
By Frank Bohlen, Historian
Off Soundings Club
History was made at the recent Annual Meeting of the Off Sounding Club in early April at Mystic Seaport when Sarah Hale Porter was elected Commodore. Off Soundings is well known to many of the sailors on Fishers Island with active participation over the years by duPont, Sanger, Stanley, Bohlen, Brinckerhoff and Porter among others. Sarah is the first female Commodore of the Club as well as the first child of a past Commodore to attain the rank. Sarah grew up on Fishers Island sailing with her father Eliot H. Porter 2nd who served as Commodore of Off Soundings in 1981-82. Eliot owned and raced on a number of boats including the well known H-23 Redcap, a name familiar to many folks on Fishers Island since it is carved in a rock at the entrance to the Porter property. In 1966 he bought and actively campaigned for many years a Hinckley Pilot 35, which he named Chrisada, for his three children Christopher, Sarah, and David. With such a legacy it’s not surprising that Sarah started sailing early and continues to enjoy and excel. She and her husband Geordie Loveday regularly campaign their Redwing 30 Jolly Mon in the Mudheads’ Wednesday night series as well as the spring and Fall Off Soundings races and often capture silver.
Beyond her sailing abilities, Sarah is an exemplary hostess and served as Chairman of the Off Soundings Entertainment Committee for many years. This included responsibility for the very important post-Race parties as well as the design and distribution of a variety of favors to mark the 75th anniversary of Off Soundings in 2008. Success in these efforts takes a team effort requiring sensitivity and political skill on the part of the Chairman. Sarah’s success is a tribute to her abilities in these areas.
On taking office it is customary for the incoming Commodore to be presented a wooden gavel as a symbol as well as a tool to control the sometimes boisterous Board meetings. Sarah has chosen to use the gavel received by her father (pictured) with Eliot’s plaque on one side and hers on the other. This seems more than appropriate providing both recognition of past contributions and tradition and an indication of the passing of the symbol of office to the next generation responsible for the continued viability of the Off Soundings Club as times change. The symbolism marking this historic moment in Off Soundings history is a promising start to Sarah Porter’s term as Commodore.