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Highlights of Early United States Power Squadron History

At the turn of the last century most yacht clubs were made up of sailing vessels and large steam yachts, often manned by professional crews.  The gasoline powered boat was just coming in to its own and was looked down upon by the sailors and steam boat owners.

Roger Upton, a member of the Boston Yacht Club and the owner of a 50-foot ketch, purchased a gasoline powered boat to serve as tender for the sailboat and tow her when she was becalmed.  The older yacht clubs taught and promoted the sport of sailing and as the motor yachts joined the fleet there were few activities for them.

In the summer of 1911 Mr. Upton suggested a club-within-a club to embrace a select group of "gasoliners" who would develop such forms of cruising and racing as the new type yachts demanded.  A year later he was elected Rear Commodore of the Boston Yacht Club, was placed in charge of the Powerboat Division of the club, and soon kept the 36 members busy with instructions, cruises and special "bang-and-go-back" races.  He also inaugurated drills - modeled after U.S. Naval maneuvers - in the belief that private power boat owners could be of use to the Navy in time of war.

During the summer of 1912, 20 power boats were invited to join 40 windjammers on the annual Boston Yacht Club cruise.  During the cruise a screeching Nor'wester blew up, and many of the sailboats were dismasted or otherwise disabled.  The power yachts under Mr. Upton's command went to the rescue and towed the disabled sailing craft to port.  No losses were reported.  Motorboat Magazine dramatized the rescue with a six-page story.  At the annual meeting in January 1913, the name was upgraded to Power Squadron with its officers and rules printed in the 1913 Boston Yacht Club Yearbook.  The value of the Power Squadron was now established and meetings were held to form a national organization.  On February 4, 1914, 30 delegates representing 70 clubs and associations having power boats assembled at the new York Yacht Club and during the evening the final work of organizing the United States Power Squadrons was accomplished.  

USPS has grown over the years and has been honored by four US Presidents for its many civic contributions.  Today, USPS is comprised of more than 60,000 men, women and youngsters in over 450 squadrons.  USPS members are involved in all types of boating with a third of the membership operating sail boats. 

 


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