The Powers Lake Yacht Club was incorporated in 1949 when Chris Juliani found that the 1912 charter of the defunct PLYC could be reinstated. An enthusiastic group met on a lawn and elected Juliani Commodore and the first Board of Directors: Jake Rustman, Paul Rietz, George Hachmeister Sr., Bill Sherman, George Stryker and Rowland Laughlin.
At the first board meeting, Rustman proposed moving one of the old Jefferson Ice co. buildings to the foot of the bay and remodeling it into a clubhouse with food service. A dollar a year rental was suggested but the board raised it to $ 20. The clubhouse operated through the 1963 season.
At first the backbone of the club was seventeen ardent sailing families and sailing never ceased to be the dominant interest. However, it was felt that the club could be a strong voice to protect the beauty, serenity and cleanliness of our unbelievably lovely lake. An active social program, equal to our sailing program, was developed and gradually the membership grew.
The club's origin was sailing. A group of old time sailors together with newcomers began racing. Paul Rietz and others dug out old gaff-rigged C's they had sailed as boys. The conglomeration of boats included the Sherman Condor which, under the handicapping system, got as much as a thirty minute head start. It won once, when the fleet encountered gale winds.
After formation of the club, the racing program was based on the one-design fleet principle-originally C Class Inland Scows. According to previous tradition, all races started at the Hachmeister pier with the judges remaining on shore and the racing buoys fixed in permanent positions. This motley group was the inspiration for forming the PLYC. We began to learn to sail with the first Long Lake Regatta in 1954. Our visitors taught us to set up starting lines and courses with movable buoys. At first they beat us but soon the tide turned.
At about age five we began feeling our oats and decided to try for membership in the Inland Lake Yachting Association. Austere dignitaries from the Lake Geneva Yacht Club (formed in 1874) came to look us over. What a show we put on for them! Finally they deigned to sponsor us and we were elected to the ILYA in 1955. We never dreamed that twenty-five years later our own Dan Garrity would be commodore of the august organization. In the inland yearbook of 1957 Powers Lake listed 21 C BOATS. In the 1961 Inland Regatta four of our yachts finished 3, 18, 20 and 29 in a fleet of 66 C's. The Powers Lake Yacht Club had come of age.
The club has experienced many changes in its sailing fleet. For a few years, we had an "A" boat fleet (38'scow). Inspired by George Hachmeister and such stalwarts as Ray Wells, John Lindahl and Doug Stryker, this fleet was replaced in 1962 when Tony James and Don Howell thought they had a better idea..."E" boats (only 28''long). In 1966 Tony James and John Winert had still a better idea....M-20's which led to M-16's. Meanwhile in 1959 a junior fleet was established using the cub boat which was replaced by the Butterfly in 1967. The butterfly was designed and built by our own John Barnett and later evolved into a national fleet.
It wasn't until 1971 that we added what had become our largest (60 boats) and our most flourishing fleet...The Butterfly Unlimited. Powers Lake sailors were ranked as some of the best sailors in the Butterfly Inland National Regattas. Our sailors took four of the top ten places in the Butterfly National Regatta held in Texas in the late 70's. The fleet traveled to regattas as far as Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Georgia and Missouri, etc. Walt Rogers was the top junior in the Butterfly Nationals in 1973. In 1974 Bob Sherman placed second in Kansas City and his brother Jim was fourth. Laurie Sherman was the top woman sailor and placed 21 out of the 68 entries. Jim Sherman placed 2nd.in the 1974 Single Handed Championship in Atlanta. In 1978 Jim Sherman won the National Championship in doubles competition. In 1980 Prudy Stryker was Woman Sailor of the Year. Dan Garrity finished 7th out of 60 boats that qualified for the C Boat Championship at Lake Geneva in 1974. Scott Powers was 6th in the M-20 ILYA Championship held in Lake Geneva in 1974 while Walt Rogers took first place. The list of champions of off Lake Regatta's are too many to mention but continues until this day, with Todd Faulkner, Don Rietz, Scott Sindelar, Bob Laughlin, Jeff Meacham, Stu Meacham, Walt Sergeant, Terry Thompson, Bill Wells, etc. etc.
In 1987 the MC was officially introduced as a new fleet. The MC's joined the M-20 class, the C Class, the Windsurfer fleet, the Butterfly unlimited and the Junior Butterfly in the racing program from Memorial Day until Labor Day. The M-20 fleet sailed the last time in 1988 and the C Class in 1990. In 1990 their were 40 registered Butterflies and 17 MC's. In 1991 the ILYA "MC" Invitational was held at Powers Lake hosted by Vice Commodore Doug Stryker. 28 MC's participated in the two day series. In 1994 Vice Commodore Nancy Crabtree hosted the Butterfly National Singles Championship at Powers Lake. 55 boats raced in this two day series which included boats from Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Indiana. Powers Lake Sailors Doug Stryker and Barb Christenson took the top places.
In 1994 Vice Commodore Nancy Crabtree received permission to purchase three Optimist Dinghies for the yacht club. The Optimist Dinghy is for children ages 8 to 16 and in 1995 the Future Force was born. In 1996 she had six students participate in the Optimist Dinghy Championship at Delevan Lake. In 1998 two more Opti's were purchased for the club.
1999 was a celebration; it was the 50th anniversary of the Powers Lake Yacht Club. At the Annual Family Picnic, there were displays of boat pictures back to 1919, members, the old yacht club building, the first yearbooks, trophies, etc. etc. Past Commodore Nancy Crabtree hosted a very special Commodore’s Dinner Dance. All living Commodores were contacted and personally invited, Walt Sargent flew in from Arizona to attend. Widows of past Commodore’s were guests of the club. Pictures of all Past Commodore’s were displayed and those present were recognized and given a gift of a Past Commodore Flag to fly from their boats. It was a joyful and memorable reunion.
In 2003, under Vice Commodore John Catino, the growth in the Optimist Fleet exploded. The Sailing School that John, assisted by Kristen Catino put together had 63 students and racing became an instant success. John and Kristen organized a group of Opti sailors to sail in the USODA Nationals at the Chicago Yacht Club. Powers Lake Yacht Club was named by the Inland Lake Yachting Association as the 2003 Yacht Club of the Year an honor only the best receive. Selected from a membership of 50 clubs, the ILYA reached the decision based on the growth of our junior racing program, participation in Jr regattas and level of enthusiasm exhibited by our members.
In 2003 Powers Lake Yacht Club, with 24 MC's, had the second largest MC Fleet in the ILYA.
Written by Nancy Crabtree