March 9, 2023
Hello LSYC from the Commodores Corner and the far away Republic of Texas! We had someone remind us the other day that prior to the 1840’s, parts of Kansas were indeed part of the Republic of Texas. So, since we both hail from western Kansas, me from Hays and Teresa from Great Bend, I quickly researched it and found that neither we, nor our ancestors, ever lived in that area formally in the Republic. But that still leaves our formative upbringing years having been spent in a part of the country not considered a sailing mecca by most.
We grew up at a time when the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation were busy constructing the great lakes of Kansas. Just to prove that “if you build it, they will come”, almost as soon as the lakes were completed, and sometimes before, sailboats and sailors started popping up everywhere. My two young Boy Scout leaders completed their law degrees back east (Washburn as I remember) and returned to Hays with a passion for sailing that they picked up in Topeka. At 11 years old, I was barely old enough to join their scout troop, but off we went on camping adventures, mostly at Cedar Bluff Lake and always with a sailboat in tow. We learned to pitch our tents, make our campfires and rig our sailboats. We learned our lessons from the scout handbook and the bible of sailing at the time, “Scientific Sailboat Racing” by Ted Wells- which I can still spot across the room on the bookshelf! I wore both of those books out during the 60’s and my first regatta trip was to accompany my two scout leaders to Topeka where in 1963, they bought a wooden Lightning. At 12 years old, I was the foredeck guy having only seen a spinnaker in pictures. With that introduction came an association with the Lightning class that has lasted for 60 years. It also marked my first exposure to sailing clubs and organized national sailing groups like the Lightning and Snipe class organizations. The Wichita Sailing Club (WSC) is where Ted Wells held court and was started by Ted and other folks mainly from the aircraft industry. By the 40’s and on into the 60’s, Ted, in addition to his writing, had become the national and world champion of the Snipe class. The idea of forming local clubs for sailors grew and in some part was fueled by Ted and others who traveled to other clubs in the region to compete in organized circuits of regattas. Clubs like the LSYC joined the Central States Sailing Association (CSSA) and while I can’t recall my first trip to Stockton for the Governor’s Cup, it was on the “circuit”. In some part, I chose Wichita State for graduate school based on the proximity to the WSC and my Snipe sailing “addiction” and the fact that in Wichita there were two boat builders cranking out fiberglass sailboats. A good trivia question would be to name one or both and one of them was among the largest builders in the country. Despite hanging out around all of those places and occasionally getting to crew for Ted and others at the WSC, I scratched out a degree and briefly moved away to sunny south Georgia and waited for the opportunity to return to Wichita which finally happened in 1977. With a real job came the opportunity to join the WSC as a full member with my own Snipe. By the early 80’s, Ted and the other aging members of the club recognized that I wasn’t going away, so they conspired to give me my first commodore’s job. Along with being the last Commodore of the WSC, I became the first Commodore of the newly named Walnut Valley Sailing Club as we moved the club to the new Eldorado Lake. Those were Commodore jobs one and two, and the honor of being Co-Commodore of LSYC makes five. The intervening 35+ years were interesting and were spent mainly in Georgia. But after retiring the first time, and being “as Kansas as the Tinman”, I moved back to Kansas City.
This story really is going somewhere as the other Co-Commodore enters the picture. Teresa can tell her unembellished story of growing up a sailor in western Kansas. Without knowing it until more recently, we compared notes and found that she and her siblings grew up sailing around the same lakes as I did. But while we crossed paths back then, we didn’t know each other and I am much older than she is anyway! We took similar career paths and we re-met through audiology and not sailing. But after a couple years, my sailing was continuing and Teresa’s was re-starting and we were married 11 years ago this month. One of our first sailing adventures came as a date to go to Stockton to see if we could hop on with someone for the Governor’s Cup. We didn’t know anyone but as part of the adventure we met John Borowski. To quote John, “go see Greg Gill, he’s always looking for somebody to crew”. So, we did and had a great time on Flying Cloud and our foot was in the door. Our first purchase together was a Sweet 16 and a membership at Lake Jacomo Sailing Club. That was soon followed by “One More Day” number one which was a Hunter 26.5 next door to Mayor Todd on E-dock. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was bound for greatness as members of the “original” E-dock group elected him Mayor by acclamation. The first E-park was a fire pit along the often-flooded shoreline and has evolved and is still evolving into what it is today. A lot has happened over the last dozen years and while we are winter Texans, we are also six-month Stockton residents of E-dock. We are up to “One More Day” number 5, which we call our “single-wide at the lake” out near the end of E-dock.
While this is a rather long introduction, it is not much longer than the great monthly newsletter contributions which Barry wrote when he was Commodore. He wrote the interesting stuff of far-away sailing adventures and also what he saw happening around the club. Paul will be adding his wealth of knowledge as a history lesson for the club and this editorial part of the website centered newsletter will hopefully include not only board members, but others with something to share. So, WATCH THIS SPACE and the other links on the LSYC website to see what is happening.
Fair Winds and Happy Sailing, Tom and Teresa