By MARY HURSH
Years ago in 1985, Paul E. Hess wrote a 61-page book which he dedicated to the memory of two wonderful friends, Edward Dodez and Joseph Plasket, whose efforts in the early years of the Wawasee Yacht Club made it possible for today’s existence. The book was printed in Fort Wayne and has no copyright but only personal observations and opinions.
Hess said the book was the first and the last edition.
I now have that book on loan from my fellow WYC members, Brad and Daphne Wagnon, and I have read it from cover to cover several times as I prepare to design a display at the museum commemorating the 85th summer of the club.
The beginnings of this sailing club were indeed austere. In 1935, four sailors, Joseph Plasket, Ed Dodez, Byron McCammon and Henry Wahl, approached Charles Bishop at his boat livery and asked if they could use his porch as a headquarters for their sailing group. He said yes and the start of a love affair with sailing at Lake Wawasee began.
Then 1938 was the first milestone for the club as they hosted the three-day Snipe Class International Regatta. Eli Lilly paid for all rooms and meals for the sailors headquartered at the Spink Wawasee Hotel.
In May 1939, club members, with the help of Eli Lilly, were able to buy a clubhouse from the D.J. Brunjes estate located east of the Tavern Hotel. The purchase price was $1,500. Within a few years, club members gutted the bedrooms on the main level to create a large living room space with a fireplace for club meetings. They added a sleeping area, an outdoor grill and a well. In 1950, club members purchased and assembled a prefabricated building from Sears-Roebuck to serve as a dormitory for men and women staying overnight during the racing season.
Eli Lilly presented the Wawasee Yacht Club with its most prestigious trophy in 1949 to keep and award yearly to the skipper winning the highest number of points in the regatta series. Today, it is the club’s most coveted award.
When the Tavern Hotel burned down and the land was put up for sale in 1955, the club was able to buy 50 feet of lakefront, giving them a boat yard space to keep and prepare their boats for weekly races.
Today, the Lightning, E-Scow, Sunfish and I-20 classes race weekly. Many regattas are held during the summer, along with monthly parties. This September the club will host the Sunfish U.S. Masters Championship.
Active memberships at the club are $550; junior memberships, $275; social memberships, $200. Junior sailing instruction is offered each summer through the month of July for ages 8-13 in the basic sailing classes and for sailors ages 13-16 in the advanced sailing classes. The cost for junior sailing classes are $145 for club members and $160 for non-members. Registration is available on the Wawasee Yacht Club website.
The mission of the club is to foster, promote and encourage the sport of sailboat racing and the science of seamanship.