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Sailing club – then and now

Once there was a very active sailing club on Oswego Lake. Time and interest seem to be spent now but for a period of 20 years or so there were upwards of 50 active members sailing 20 different classes of boats on our lake. When the weather warmed, races were held most every weekend and up to 20 sailboats competed around 30 or more possible courses.

The Sailing Club perhaps began about 1963, or so when Tony Dresden and Bob Young happened to meet in the middle of the lake in their two small sailboats. After a few weeks of two boats sailing about another sailboat came out of a long sleep in a boathouse and got under way. Interest grew and an organizational meeting was arranged. The interest in sailing grew rapidly and the club was formed. It was decided that for proper racing we should standardize on one design. Boat designs were carefully evaluated and it was decided that the new 'Super Satellite' would be the choice. A good deal was made with the California manufacturer and seven boats were ordered. It worked out to be a good and lively boat. After 10 years or so, another newer class of boats, the Coronado 15 was selected as a better overall boat for our lake. But sailboats of all kinds were active racers. The 1980 roster shows 20 active sailors and 31 more sailors who had participated but were not considered fully active. The 1980 roster shows 19 different types of boats listed.

Spring, summer, fall races were scheduled and actively participated. Each boat design was 'rated' and this rating sometimes allowed the slowest boat to win in spite of coming round the race mark last. During sailing days there was a courtesy system. Power boats stayed clear of the sailboats and the sailors did not intentionally interfere with the water skiers. Of course, when the wind was up water-skiing was not the best.

At least once the lady sailors, who often only could crew for the 'captain' (read 'husband'), decided to have a ladies only race. The race was held and boats had only lady 'captains' and lady crews. Husbands who expected to crew for their wives were abruptly left at the dock where they were totally confused and maybe a little more. There were also special 'lady' rules. One rule was that no boat would advance past a race buoy until all the other boats had a chance to catch up and round that mark as well. The rule of flying a red flag of protest was also modified and a dyed red article of women's undergarment was displayed at race end to 'protest' the whole idea of male racing. By the way, some of the best sailors were women.

Now in 2007, it is hard to believe that there was once so much sailing activity. In the past 20 or so years, interest and evidence of Lake Oswego sailboats seems to have sunk. Now there seems to be a plethora of powerboats. The 1980 roster of the Lake Oswego Sailing Club lists too many names of members no longer with us. But this writer would like to believe that sailing on Oswego Lake will someday return to its former glory, bringing the thrill of sailing and the comradeship we all shared so many years ago. Hopefully this season we will see a sailboat or two on the lake. After all, the city of Lake Oswego's logo is a sailboat.

We have recently moved from Lake Oswego but we have 50 years of memories on the lake.

Bob Young is now a resident of Tigard.