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Wisconsin Yachting Association 50th Anniversary 1938 - 1988
Prepared by Walter Schwarting (V-10)

This year, 1988, the Wisconsin Yachting Association marks its 50th year anniversary as an organization which was started to promote good sportsmanship and further friendly competition in scow sailing.

The WYA was established in 1938 by three charter clubs, La Belle (originally known as the Oconomowoc Yacht Club), Okauchee, and Nagawicka. These clubs had held a successful regatta between their three lakes with skippers and crews enjoying the friendly rivalry. Wishing to make the regatta an annual event, the WYA was formed to advance good sportsmanship, increase sailing enjoyment and skills, and to promote yacht racing as one of the greatest and oldest sports in the world. Approximately 18 "C" scows competed in the first regatta. The WYA was destined to grow under the guidance of the first commodore, Herman Friedrich, with Lake Beulah joining the Association in 1940 and Pewaukee Lake in 1942. Other lakes, realizing how the WYA was successfully achieving its goals, wished to join and in 1946 the Oconomowoc Lake Club was admitted, followed by Beaver Lake in 1947, and Pistakee Bay in 1948, rounding out the eight-lake format as it existed in 1988.

In the early years of the Association, invitational regattas were held in addition to the championship regattas but these invitationals were discontinued in 1943 because of WWII. However, the WYA was able to continue championship regattas during the war years because the closeness of the member lakes permitted travel in spite of gas rationing which made regattas impossible for the ILYA.

The year 1952 saw the advent of the three-day regatta and sailing four races; one Friday afternoon race, two Saturday races, and one Sunday race. One of the principles in the WYA regatta format was to allow the sailors to work during the week rather than take off a full work week for a regatta as the ILYA format required. Equally important was keeping the regatta low cost, with the entry fee to include lunches, the idea being that the host lake would try not to "show a profit" at the sailor's expense but rather for the host lake to repay social obligations to sailing friends on a rotating lake basis. To further encourage camaraderie, the host club's Commodore would invite the visiting clubs' officers to his home for an evening of socializing.

The WYA, realizing that the further strength of the Association was in the development of younger sailors, incorporated a regatta program for the "X" fleet with the first annual "X" fleet championship regatta for sailors under 16 years of age being held in 1948. Peggy Koch of Pewaukee Lake won the honor of being the first Champion. The "X" fleet has continued to grow and produce an outstanding group of young sailors who have learned well and have progressed to become skilled "C" fleet sailors.

The early 1960's saw the "C" fleet grow in numbers leading to the establishment of the divisional regatta circuit in 1964 on the smaller member lakes. This format allowed the smaller lakes to continue to host regattas and allowed for younger and new sailors to experience regatta sailing before encountering the 90 boat fleets seen at the WYA Championship regattas on the four larger member lakes or in the ILYA regattas.

In the early years the WYA, many boat builders and sail makers were located in the immediate vicinity of the member lakes. Paringer Boat Company, Okauchee, turned out many of the early wood "C" boats; owners Herb and Roy Paringer sailed in the regattas. Inland Lakes Boat Co., on Lac LaBelle, was owned by Chuck Edwards and made some fast "C' and "X" boats. A real innovator of scow type boats was Art Stamm who operated Stamm Boat Company on Nagawicka Lake. Art said "the average wind speed on an inland lake is only 8 miles an hour in summer" and thus a boat should have a long waterline and a rounded bilge. Art's major contribution to scow sailing was to build the first fiberglass "C" boat and he later built the first fiberglass pointed-nose "E" scow. The Stamm Boat Company developed fiberglass technologies many years before other builders followed the lead. The Palmer Boat Company, Lake Geneva, built scows and was owned after the war by Bob Schieble, Sr. The Matt Brothers from Okauchee also built fiberglass "C" and "X" boats after WWII. Sails made of cotton were cut by Mel Jones of Joys Brothers in Milwaukee.

Each year at the championship regattas permanent trophies are awarded in both class "C" and class "X".

  • CHAMPIONSHIP CLASS "C": Donated in 1939 by Governor of Wisconsin, Julius Heil.

  • 2ND PLACE "C": Donated by Steve Polaski owner of The Red Circle Inn.

  • 3RD PLACE "C" and 4TH PLACE "C": Donated by the Wisconsin Yachting Association.

  • 5TH PLACE "C": Donated by Herb Paringer of Paringer Boat Company.

  • 1ST PLACE CREW: The William Fergeson Memorial.

  • FIRST RACE "C": The Charles Johnson Memorial donated by the Anne Johnson and the Richard Keck family.

  • 2ND RACE "C": The Salty Fan Club Trophy donated by Walter A. Schwarting.

  • 3RD RACE "C": The John and Ginny Looze Memorial donated by Pistakee Yacht Club.

  • 4TH RACE "C": Commodore Herman Friedrich donated by the Okauchee Yacht Club.

  • 5TH RACE "C": Commodore Tom L. Sawyer Memorial donated by the Sawyer family.

  • CHAMPIONSHIP CLASS "X": Joe Gutenkunst Trophy donated by Joe Gutenkunst.

  • 2ND PLACE CLASS "X": Harry Seaman Trophy donated by Harry Seaman.

  • 3RD PLACE CLASS "X": Commodore Erv Burdick donated by Erv Burdick.

Among the names of the champions engraved on these trophies are names of many sailors who were instrumental in the development of the WYA:

  • OKAUCHEE: Herman Friedrich, Roy Paringer, Matt Brothers, W. Frankfurth, Ed Tries, R. Schmid, Walter Schmidt, Memmell Brothers, Bob Henschel.

  • BEULAH: A. Z. Clayton, Jim Brown, Tom Gawne, Bob Oster, Dr. Paul Atterbery.

  • LA BELLE: Bob and Bill Stephens, John Flanagan, Joe Weix, Dr. Stevens.

  • NAGAWICKA: John Coleman, Art Stamm, H. N. Bills, Martha Notbohm, Larry Seidl, Jim Barry, Sr., Eli Schmidt, Robert Tank, the Price Brothers, Roesler Brothers, Fred Pfeil.

  • PEWAUKEE: Robert Schieble, Sr., Harold Koch, Hugh Wieman, Steinman Brothers, Erv Burdick, Terry Lentz, Bob Thiele, Fred Schneider, Bud Meyer, Walter Schwarting, Tom Sawyer.

  • OCONOMOWOC: Buster Schumm, Erv Rauser, Tom and H. Coleman Norris.

  • BEAVER: Ed Kopmier, Bill Hatch, Tom Duecker, Ted Fleming.

  • PISTAKEE: Pomerski Brothers, Ed Rollberg, Clarence Peterson, Jack Deroche, Frank Waters, Bill Ericsson, John Looze.

No WYA history could be complete without giving mention to two individuals who were very dedicated and committed to the Association and its goals and whose leadership gave inspiration to others who worked with them ... Herman Friedrich, the first commodore, and John Looze, the ninth commodore. Through Herman's guidance in the early years the WYA grew and proposed. John looked ahead helping the WYA to become recognized as a leader in conducting sailing events. Racing procedures developed by the WYA were later adapted by other sailing groups. John's wife, Ginny, purchased the keeper trophies for a span of about 15 years and a highlight of the regattas in those years was to see what of unique display of trophies Ginny would assemble.

The above names represent only a few of the hundreds of sailors who have campaigned their boats in Wisconsin Yachting Association regattas since its conception. New names are engraved each year on the trophies; names that now belong to the third generation of sailors from families! These sailors have given time and effort to make the WYA the GREAT organization it is today ... an organization that can advance in the next 50 years on creative leadership just has it has these past 50 long and proud years.

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