The eve of the start of the 84th annual Edgartown Yacht Club Regatta is a bit awkward for club manager William J. (Bill) Roman, 49.
For 21 years of working at the club, Mr. Roman has stayed low and focused his attention on making sure the affairs of the club go without a hitch. In a typically understated manner, he has hidden himself and sought to meet the needs of the club, its 875 members and their friends.
This summer is different. Mr. Roman is getting accolades of appreciation from the members. The table has turned.
This past May, the organization US Sailing named Mr. Roman sailor of the week. US Sailing, a nonprofit national organization that promotes sailing, has 37,000 members.
Mr. Roman was honored for his leadership in organizing the first East Coast Yacht Club Symposium in Newport in April. The organization also honored him for his efforts to promote sailing and manage the Edgartown Yacht Club for 18 years.
This week, when hundreds of sailors converge to compete in the regatta that begins with morning races on Thursday, quite a few of the sailors will take their hats off to Mr. Roman on their way to their boats.
Though Mr. Roman is now in the thick of the summer boating season, he is immersed in the club year-round.
The 102-year-old Edgartown Yacht Club has a prominent visual presence on the waterfront. The old cedar-shingled boathouse sits at the site of the wharf used by whaling ships in the 1800s.
Any sailor aboard a vessel coming in and out of Edgartown Harbor sees and can sense the activities of the club. Because of a reciprocal agreement, if a visiting sailor is a member of any of the hundreds of affiliated yacht clubs along the seaboard, he or she can visit the Edgartown club and be afforded a warm greeting.
That welcoming position on the waterfront means Mr. Roman will often be in touch with Edgartown harbor master Charlie Blair to coordinate efforts to meet the needs of visiting boaters.
"You know Charlie is incredibly accommodating to visitors that come here," Mr. Roman said. "Charlie will look at his mooring chart and say, ‘Well, I don't have anything, but come.'
"We are on the radio for a day and a half, working to extend the best hospitality to those who come," Mr. Roman said.
In the winter, six full-time employees work at the club. That number grows to more than 100 at the height of summer.
"It all starts around Memorial Day and it all builds right up through the thrd week of August," he said. "With the school year being what it is, the week coming up on Labor Day is a little bit quieter. After Labor Day it all drops off."
Mr. Roman loves to sail, though it is a rare moment when he gets a chance to get out on the water. His interest in sailing may have been the lure that brought him close to the yacht club 21 years ago, but in his profession there is not a lot of leisure time in the summer. Running a summer yacht club is a business.
Mr. Roman once sailed and owned a Rhodes 19, a sailboat class that has fewer and fewer followers. The regatta barely has enough of this sailboat class to hold races. To keep his sailing sea legs these days, Mr. Roman will jump on a boat of a friend
Mr. Roman and his wife Selena are observing a 25th wedding anniversary this fall. Their first step on the Vineyard came when she was hired to run an insurance office here.
Mr. Roman, who was a 1978 graduate of a two-year program at the Culinary Institute of America, had worked as chef at the White Elephant for five years on Nantucket from 1980 to 1985.
"Nantucket was really nice, but we decided we wanted to try something new," Mr. Roman said. "My first job coming here was actually working for Sam Warriner at Warriners in the fall of 1985."
He was hired as chef by Edgartown Yacht Club manager Ben Mixter and Don MacRae, then chairman of the house committee.
There is irony in this Vineyard job trail. Today Mr. Warriner is the club's commodore. "So I am working for him again," Mr. Roman said.
Three years after Mr. Roman was brought on as the yacht club chef, Mr. Mixter retired and Mr. Roman was hired to replace him. When he started working at the club, Mr. Roman said: "There were fewer club members and there was significantly less staff.
"My goal every year is to improve the services and program the club provides for the membership," he said. "And each year we change things slightly, to make those improvements so that membership comes back to a club that is better than when they left."
The greatest challenge for Mr. Roman has little to do with boats, water and club tennis. The challenge is making all that happens happen well in a short span of time.
"The challenge is the compression of the season," he said. "It is a very short and intense season. The fact I have such a great team of people is what makes it work. They are really the ones that make it work. The relationships go beyond the club's entry gate.
"The club has an incredible presence in the town and on the harbor. You nurture and value the relationships you have with everyone in town, via town hall or on the waterfront. Over the years I have really enjoyed working with each of those. There is a lot of work that goes into communicating with the community, and the membership. A lot of work goes into the preparation for summer."
This year's regatta is coming together day by day with new registration forms coming in. Club volunteers are putting the regatta together.
The biggest turnout will be of more than 50 Optimist sailboats from afar. These are eight-foot sailing dinghies with sailors at least 10 years old. The regatta is a family event with young sailors competing in small boats and their parents sailing in larger one-design class boats such as Shields, Herreshoff and Wianno Seniors.
Mr. Roman said the club expects 20 gaff-rigged Wianno Senior 25-foot sailboats coming over from the Cape. The classic looking sailboats are always an impressive sight coming into the harbor.
The first wave of boats will begin arriving today. Racing runs from Thursday through Saturday with an awards ceremony on Sunday in the clubhouse. Clare Gesualdo is this year's race chairman.
Sailing continues through the summer at the club. Saturday, July 21 is the date for the annual 'Round the Island Race. The 12th annual Twelve Metre Regatta is scheduled for August 10 through 12.