Three Color Guard members in uniform raising flags.

The Color Guard in action during the 73rd annual Opening Day at University Yacht Club last month.

From a table set for the “Fallen Comrade” to the blessing of the fleets, the 73rd Annual Opening Day at University Yacht Club commemorated centuries-old marine traditions in early April.

More than 125 members gathered to officially open the club for the 2023 season, under the leadership of Commodore Bret “BB” Benninghoff. Fifteen new members were welcomed into the organization and eight members who “Crossed the Bridge,” passed away in the past year, were saluted by the peal of a brass bell.

“The Fallen Comrade table, also known as the Missing Man table, holds many traditions – an empty chair honors those who are no longer with us, it is round to represent the lasting concern those of us still here have for the absent, the red rose signifies the blood they have shed to ensure our freedom, and the inverted glass reminds us that they can no longer partake,” Benninghoff explained.

The event included the presentation of colors, “The Star Spangled Banner,” cannon firings and the current Commodore’s Blessing of the Fleets – both power and sail – for the coming season.

The new officers and Board of Governor members were recognized, as were each of the living Past Commodores.

The afternoon’s ceremony was capped off with a traditional dinner.

“The traditions of boating and a yacht club such as University are time honored and have stood the test of time,” Benninghoff said. “We are indeed fortunate to have the members of our club and this facility where we are all like family, but we are also blessed to be able to enjoy Lake Lanier and the boating community.”

Photo: courtesy of UYC