Welcome to the 46th consecutive Opening Day ceremony of Pierpont Bay Yacht Club without rain. That’s all of them. We are 46 and 0. Our timing is exquisite this year, don’t you think? Just Thursday it was raining all day.
So, it’s great to see you here dressed in your blue blazers and white pants, instead of foul weather gear. Hmm, blue blazers, blue blazers. Where did that uniform come from, anyway? (Shouts of “Pennys!” from the crowd.) I mean, where did the tradition come from?
Back in January at our Change of Command dinner, I started thinking about why we wear this traditional outfit. So, I did some research. It turns out that in the British Royal Navy days of wooden ships and iron men, there was no fixed uniform for the Navy as a whole. Instead, ships’ captains or crews chose their own uniforms – based perhaps on their preferences, the fashion of the day, or something that would reflect the name of the ship. And when they were out in a group, they would be called by the name of their ship. For example, the crew of HMS Harlequin, the Harlequins, would wear a multi-colored uniform, and the Tulips would wear a flower in their hat.
These uniforms weren’t their everyday clothing, as khaki or dungaree might be in today’s navy. It was what they would wear on special occasions – shipboard inspections, shore leave, soirees, and so forth. It was their way of showing pride in their ship and in their persons. When they went ashore, it made them easily identifiable to other ships’ crews and the residents of the town.
So, this weekend, as you go to the various Opening Day ceremonies, you can toast the crew of HMS Blazer, whose uniform of blue jacket and white pants we still wear today.
Jr. Staff Commodore