The Great South Bay Scooter Club: A Prestigious Social Venue

Authored by Samantha Duffy

cover page of racing rules (1963) for the Great South Bay Scooter Club

Title page of a 6-page set of Racing Rules, approved in 1963. This is from the Great South Bay Scooter Club collection, currently located at the Brookhaven Free Library

When the temperature drops, and sleeves get longer, most people retreat to the comfort and warmth of their homes, to hibernate for the cold winter. But if you are one of the many ice boat racers out here on eastern Long Island, the freezing temperatures bring more than the holiday spirit. In fact, it can only mean one thing; another season at the Bellport Bay Yacht Club[1]. Meeting every first and third Tuesday of the months November-March[2], giddy ice boat enthusiasts gather to race, on the Great South Bay, located at the end of Bellport Lane in Bellport. Although the evolution of how ice boats came about is not well documented, the rich history of the Great South Bay Scooter Club is making its way into being digitally accessible for all to see. As early as 1900, ice boats and scooters were used, though at that point in time almost strictly for hunting and sport[3]. The very first organized scooter race took place in Patchogue in February of 1903. In 1904, the Bellport Scooter Club was organized and later oversaw the organization of other scooter clubs across Long Island[4]. From there, the Bellport Bay Yacht Club offered their building to the Scooter Club for the winter months. Since then, the club, and what seems like the entire village of Bellport, have enjoyed that space from 1922, on[5].

Though the history of the Great South Bay Scooter Club has yet to be digitized, it is in the caring hands of Brookhaven Free Library, who is looking into how to properly preserve the collection digitally. This would be the first digitization project for the small public library, but one that the Director, Jamie Papandrea, and staff, are eager to do in the right way. They (Brookhaven Free Library) are hoping this is the first of many digitalization projects for the small library.

Despite the cold weather associated with the sport, Bellport village warmly embraces the culture that comes with scooter club activities, making it such a proud part of life in Bellport. Rice Realty actually features the scooter club as a selling point; “Bellport Village is known as the “Home of the Scooter” where this fascinating sport originated. You must visit Bellport to really experience the thrill of scootering on the almost landlocked Great South Bay.”[6] The village is so passionate about this part of their culture that they have even voted to adopt a “scooter” as their symbol[7]. Currently, the Bellport High School teams, with exception of the football teams, are known as the “clippers” which, according to Time magazine[8], is a symbol of ships.

Like surfers follow the waves, ice boaters are now forced to follow the ice, with warmer than ever winter temperatures here in New York[9]. But these abnormal warm winters cannot stop avid ice boaters, who in some cases, have passed on this tradition from generation to generation. Whether they “caught the bug”[10] or have had a scooter in their family for generations, ice boat racing is sure to stay for a while yet. Wherever there are iced over bodies of water, you are sure to find a few ice boaters eager to race.

 

[1] Brief History of Ice Scooters

[2] lbid

[3] lbid

[4] South Bay Scooter Club, Bellport.com

[5] Brief History of Ice Scooters

[6] Anthony Gandolfo, Rice Reality, 2013

[7] lbid

[8] Ashley Ross, Time magazine, 2014

[9] Kilgannon, New York Times, 2009

[10] lbid 

 

Bibliography

A Brief History of Ice Scooters. (2016). Accesed March 16, 2016, from http://icescooter.org/history.php

Gandolfo, Anthony. “About Bellport Village.” Real Estate Sales Rentals Commercial Buyer Representation Rice Realty Group Inc of Bellport New York RSS. 2013. Accessed March 22, 2016. http://ricerealty1.com/about-bellport-village/.

Kilgannon, C. (2009, February 13). Catching Cold, and Loving It. New York Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/nyregion/long-island/15RiceboatNJ.html?_r=1

Ross, Ashley. “The Clippers Are Actually Named After a Ship.” Time, April 28, 2014.

South Bay Scooter Club – Bellport.com. (2016). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.bellport.com/sbsc/

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