The Corinthian Yacht Club’s founding mission based on the Corinthian principle of amateur sportsmanship has lasted the test of time, welcoming not only racing and cruising sailors through its doors but also those with simply a love of the water and the camaraderie that brings.
Rosalyn Brandt was just that person when she joined the CYC in 2006 – she wasn’t a sailor nor did she own a boat but she had many friends who were members and she enjoyed her social time at the club. A commercial interior designer and space planner who has been working her craft for some 39 years, Brandt quickly became involved in club committees and her skills as a project manager did not go unnoticed.
Over four years ago, she landed on the club’s Port Committee which is responsible for maintaining and improving the physical club structure. Like most club committees, its volunteer-run and comprises architects, contractors, sub-contractors, and others involved in the construction trades. This past week at the CYC’s annual board meeting, Brandt was elected to the position of Port Captain which oversees the Port Committee, becoming the first woman in the club’s colorful 134-year history to step into the role.
“I was shocked because there has never been a female in this role at the CYC and I don’t think there’s been one in any of the other clubs around the Bay,” Brandt, a Tiburon resident, noted with pride. “I have to say it’s a pretty significant role – we’re dealing with so many parts of a facility that is very old.”
As Brandt has come to well understand these past few years, the maintenance of a structure that was built above water over a century ago is all-consuming. The original clubhouse constructed in 1887 was a little red wooden building on a rock with a terrific view.
Because the club catered to amateur sailors (versus the professional sailors of the time who worked on yachts owned by the wealthy), the clubhouse was always designed around functionality for yachting — a place from which members could not only sail but store their gear and stay overnight if they wished.
When the structure was further remodeled in 1889 as club membership grew, a boat deck and verandah was added. In 1890 a large rock was blown up under the club to make way for a lower level — the renowned Pneumonia Alley named such because bone-chilling winds used to roll right through it (and they still do!).
Back then, Pneumonia Alley was an area of sleeping rooms and private saloons, converted to member gear lockers in recent times. On the club’s top level, the spectacular ballroom with its oak flooring and redwood paneling doubled as a sail loft for drying the canvas sails used at the time.
In 1910, a fire destroyed much of the original clubhouse and it was replaced by a grand new structure built in Edwardian style which is the building that stands today. From its humble beginnings, the clubhouse has become one of the most iconic structures on the Bay with its awe-inspiring views across to the City.
The Port Committee’s work involves procuring bids for all construction work, managing budgets, and supervising any construction that occurs at the facility. While the club has periodically gone through major remodel projects in the 1960s and 1980s, as recently as last fall it embarked on a major interior remodel which was completed in February to bring the structure up to code, modernize bathroom and kitchen facilities.
“The kitchen expansion proved timely as members discovered the club to be a safe place to dine and enjoy the great view — during COVID — so our kitchen has been busy,” Brandt said. “People are using our outdoor deck spaces more like a private dining room.”
Brandt is excited about her expanded club role and that her expertise is being put to good use.
“Working in the world of commercial interiors, I’m always working with construction firms and moving around in an environment without many women,” Brandt commented. “I feel like this is a really big step for the club and I give them a lot of credit for figuring it out!”
Staff Commodore Diana Fischer — a member of CYC since 1992, sailor and co-owner of Sirius, a Catalina 34 — was the club’s first female commodore in 2000. She concurs that the Port Captain plays a critical role in the club.
“The CYC clubhouse is complex with its underpinnings and wooden pilings,” Fischer, a Novato resident, said. “Over the years she’s been quite a lady who needs a lot of care because she has water underneath her all the time. Ros will be responsible for holding the crew together to make sure everything is maintained and given there’s always something to be done with wood and water, she’ll be busy!”