In the late 1950’s, the first dock at Chagrin River Yacht Club (CRYC) was installed. This dock was a simple wooden dock built to hold an 18-ft. Chris-Craft. The boat and the dock were owned by Robert P. Sopko, the founder and first Commodore of CRYC. The land was overgrown with foliage and the river was not fully dredged. Access to the area in the 1950’s and 1960’s was a wooden one-lane bridge over the Chagrin River. The entrance to CRYC was a 40-degree dirt hill. As the 60’s approached and the economy boomed, as more boats were being purchased and dockage was hard to find. Bill Sasso, land owner, cleared more land on the river and installed more dockage. A great demand for safe dockage and storage lead to the creation of a marina. A large steel Quonset hut was erected and today is the location of CRYC. In 1965 ownership of the club changed to Al Bolon, and 15 docking boat owners formed CRYC. Bob Sopko was elected Commodore, Elmer Locsei – Vice President, Bobbie Locsei – Treasurer, & Anita Locsei – Recording Secretary. The annual dues were established at $25.00 and dockage was paid to Al Bolon. The Deck Lounge became the club meeting place.
The area continued to prosper during the mid-1960’s. With membership flourishing, many improvements and changes occurred. In 1966 the crane was installed and was powered by a gasoline engine. The crane was found in an old Navy shipyard and was purchased by Al and CRYC. Also in 1966, a restaurant was opened in the Quonset hut, which now houses extra dining for the Deck Lounge. There was a long snack bar with tables and seating for approximately 30 people. The restaurant was open Friday evening through Sunday night, and all proceeds went to the club treasury marked for club improvements. The restaurant was manned by volunteering members and families. In 1969, an agreement for a portion of the Quonset hut was made with Al and CRYC. This area was cleaned and built into the existing clubhouse. Membership continued to increase into the 1970’s. A club request for more activities produced the Ladies Auxiliary “Shaquinettes”. With the demand for more dockage, the ghetto area was dredged and completed in the Fall of 1972. The main road in the ghetto was named “Sopko Road”, in memorial of the founder and first Commodore, Robert P. Sopko, who passed away in May of 1971.
In 1972, the club found the need to move boats more efficiently. With the financial assistance of Al Boldon, the Carry-All was purchase and is still in use today. Under the direction of Commodore Jack Cole, the club applied for membership to the Interlakes Yachting Association. Chagrin River Boat Club became CRYC in 1974. In 1975, under the guidance of Commodore-Elect Elmer Locsei, a new modern dockside electrical system was installed.
From 1975-1982, the club members experienced numerous high and low periods, from which the organization grew immensely in administration, experience and management expertise. During this period, CRYC became a well-known participant in yachting and boating activities on Lake Erie. Our club was built with dedication and hard work form all the past and present members. We would like to recognize each and every officer and member for the constant efforts and time. There are four members that distinguished themselves with untiring efforts on behalf of not only our club, but all Great Lakes Yachtsmen. Past Commodores Eric P. Schneider, Jim Cronin, Norm Gallagher, and Drake Rittenhouse.
In 1984, the sale of our leased facilities to Ron and Gail Kahoun gave promise to future growth of CRYC. The Kahoun family has, over the years, added a restaurant, outside deck seating and the gas docks to their business operations which we all enjoy. Club progress and organizational growth continued to flourish with the excellent help of our membership efforts and the benefit of an excellent relationship and mutual understanding of the Kahoun’s (land owners). In 1984, the largest improvement project, bulkheading throughout the entire club, was initiated. By the end of 1984 boating season, 75% of the project was completed. From 1987-1990 clubhouse construction of an addition was underway. Many members donated time and materials to this huge project, without them the project could have never been completed.
Going forward in the 1990’s, land issues with our landlord and Lake County Yacht Club were resolved. A definite line was established between the properties. This enabled dredging costs to be budgeted and contracted. In 1990 and 1991 CRYC was able operate on budget without the benefit of new member income. The river wall project and associated electrical, water, and steel docks was detailed and involved substantial costs. Phase 1 of the river wall bulk heading project was completed in 1993, after 3 years of planning. In 1997 the large wooden pavilion was built behind the clubhouse to help expand outdoor club activities, housing picnic tables and enhancing seating for our events.
Entering a new decade in the 2000's, brought more improvements. Together the membership and the Ladies Auxiliary worked on the Men’s and Ladies restrooms. They were renovated inside the clubhouse with new paint, fixtures, showers, and toilets. Many members worked on this project so that members are now able to utilize and enjoy these newly renovated facilities. The kitchen was also updated, along with the purchase of 2 new stoves. This increased the use of the clubhouse and renting of the facilities for functions and events.
It is with great pride and thanks to all our members, past, present, and future , that the history has been written. Without you, our club would not remain and flourish. May we continue making history in the years to come as a club of friends!
The objectives of this club shall be the promotion, encouragement, perpetuation and protection of boating, yachting, and other aquatic sports to encourage and enlighten the members thereof regarding navigation of boats and their care and to encourage sociability and friendship among its members.