Fond du Lac Sailing Club
"Come sail with us!"
Sailing Club - 60 Years Old
As the FDL Sailing Club observes the anniversary of its founding, it is timely to consider how it began.
In the summer of 1958, the FDL Yacht Club agreed to let Sea Scout Ship 100 meet aboard the barge that served as its clubhouse. For younger kids, they planned a youth seamanship program using Optimist Prams. Members assembled a dozen $65 kits at home.
An overheated furnace caused the barge to burn to ashes on a bitter cold day in January 1959. A new clubhouse opened a year later.
Lighthouse Harbor had no piers in those days. Small sailboats could tie to rings along the north seawall for $12 a season. Two or three cabin yachts had crude slips at the Yacht Club.
In 1962 the Club restarted the pram program, but needed sailors as teachers. One volunteer was Ed “Pug” Malone, a lifelong sailor who was ILYA Class A scow champion in 1959.
Meanwhile, a newcomer in town, Dick Stokely, had built a Windmill class sloop. The hull looked like a flat-bottom rowboat, but he could make it go fast.
Dick put a notice in the FDL paper inviting anyone interested in forming a sailing club to meet at Roosevelt Junior High School on November 9, 1962. Thirty people showed up. A third meeting at the Elks Club featured Ed McFerren’s movie of the America’s Cup race at Newport in September.
At the Yacht Club meeting in January 1963, Gene Lallier (Dave’s great-uncle) suggested that members should kick in $1 each to get on the Sailing Club’s mailing list, and that the new club be invited to hold its meetings at the Yacht Club. They did, and the sailors enjoyed the hospitality since, while helping the pram program.
Each month in Spring the Sailing Club prepared for a full schedule of Sunday and Holiday races since 1963, with Ed Malone coaching them on race procedure. He was amused by the variety of boats. Class A comprised four E scows and 2 catamarans. Class B covered a dozen assorted day sailers and 2 cabin yachts.
The next year, the sailing club sponsored an invitational race for any cruising boat on Winnebago, the first Fondy Forty Miler.
— Tom Grebe