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Club Information

In mid-1975, Paul Larmon, inspired and encouraged by "Doc" Phil Nippert (owner of Dixie Sailing Ships, the Atlanta Venture sailboat dealership), mailed a flyer to Venture owners proposing formation of the "Venture Sailing Club". Paul Larmon set the initial philosophy of the club in membership literature and the initial newsletters with the following statement."The purpose of this organization is to have more fun with our boats by developing interesting activities in which everyone can participate."

Specifically, this meant a family-oriented club that had a wide variety of boating activities in addition to racing. Activities included frequent picnics, saltwater cruises, group purchasing discounts, a "trailer pool" for sharing trailers, information about modifying and improving Venture sailboats, children's activities, and sailing classes on various topics.

As for racing, the first issue of the club newsletter, Joint Venture in January 1976 stated: "far to often racing turns into bloody competition and ends up with those more experienced (or who are willing to spend a lot on fancy equipment) winning all the time. Therefore, the club racing began with spinnakers prohibited, no formal protest committee and an attempt to have the finish coordinated with some other social function of the club, such as a picnic. Rather than ribbons for winners, small boating items were awarded as prizes. Club membership was restricted to Venture owners. The primary reason stated for this was so that racing could be done without handicapping. The first few races saw Venture 21s, 22s, 23s, 24s and 25s all running together without handicaps. Of course it became apparent very quickly that this wouldn't work, so a rather arbitrary handicap system, modified from time to time for each skipper's racing results, was instituted. Rather than all boats starting at the same time, a pursuit start was used. With the pursuit start, each boat's handicap was reflected in its start time so that whoever crossed the finish line first was the winner, without the need for the race committee to make calculations.

During mid-1976, the Venture owners only rule was re-evaluated. The first Commodore, Paul Larmon, remembers, "we wanted an organization, which had the basic theme of SAILING at its center - . . so it really didn't matter what kind of boat you had." The restriction was lifted and membership opened to anyone with an interest in sailing, including persons with no boat at all.

Obviously, the name Venture sailing Club, was no longer appropriate and the name Southern Sailing Club officially was adopted on September 30, 1976. The 1977 roster listed a membership of 118 from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  Wayland Moore, internationally famous sports artist, designed our SSC logo and burgee.

Today, the principles of the club remain unchanged.  Our yearly social activities begin with our-black-tie-optional Commodore's Ball followed later in the year by the chili cook-off, beach parties, moonlight cruises, the lobster bake and more. Since the club owns no real estate or clubhouse, we hold club meetings at various restaurants in the area.

Our racing program has matured and we have some of the finest racing skippers on the lake. US Sailing's standard Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) is now used as a baseline handicap for our racers but we allow an extra handicap for inexperienced skippers. The same pursuit start we used in the beginning is still used. The pursuit start also has the added benefits of exciting finishes and of tending to get all participants to the after-race raft-up at nearly the same time for club-furnished libations. We still do not have a protest committee. Our racers are encouraged to work out their differences in a sportsmanlike manner. This has worked very well for over 40 years.


Besides the trophies for the various racing series held throughout the year Southern Sailing Club awards the following additional trophies each year.

The Hang Tough Award is presented each year to that skipper who, while not finishing in the top of the fleet, keeps coming back again and again and showing improvement.

The Belden Cup is SSC's premier trophy. It was established in 1981 in honor of Ed Belden. Ed joined SSC in 1977, shortly after learning that he had cancer. To many he symbolized what SSC is all about--he loved sailing his boat and he loved the club. Ed always had a smile and was always there willing to help, even though he was sick a lot of the time. When he received the Cup at the 1982 Commodore's Ball, he said, "I have more fun than any of you!" And he did. Ed Belden died March 10, 1982. The Belden Cup is annually awarded to that adult member of the Club who, in the opinion of a secret selection committee, has exhibited outstanding qualities of seamanship, sportsmanship, service, and dedication to the ideals of the Southern Sailing Club. The Cup is a beautiful silver-plated champagne cooler donated by Bill Skillas and his company, Webb-Skillas & Associates. In addition to enjoying the trophy for a year, the recipient is given a permanent award.