Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Yacht Club Without Yachts-the first tens years of the WYC (by Ken Howe).

The sailing club at the University of Washington was formed by experienced local sailors who wanted to represent the University of Washington in intercollegiate competitions. 

Photo provided by Dwight Shaw

Dwight Shaw, WYC Rear Commodore in 1958, is shown on Ron McFarlane’s Star. Ron McFarlane along with Bill Buchan Jr. and Bill Buchan Sr. won the Mallory Cup, America’s small boat championship, in1955. Their win is described in this Sports Illustrated article.

Ron McFarlane described his interest in racing to me in an e-mail.
Mike Butler and I were classmates at West Seattle High School and later both of us joined Seattle Yacht Club. While still in high school, either in 1952 or possibly 1951, a third classmate asked if I might be interested in sailing Penguin class dinghies at SYC. I jumped on that chance and sailed my first race. The yacht club had obtained six Penguins for their junior program. The races were held in Portage Bay through the winter and on occasion during the summer. I soon discovered that yacht racing was something I wanted to do on a serious basis.” Ron McFarlane
The idea of the sailing club began in the spring of 1948 in meetings between UW Daily sports editor, John Faulkner, and Walt Hardman, an experienced sailor.   In a report to the ASUW office the club’s purpose was described as to promote sailing at the UW and to sponsor an intercollegiate sailing team. When activities began in the fall of 1948 the club consisted of 40 members with 25 of them boat owners.

John Faulkner
Walt Hardman

1949 Tyee Yearbook

Steve Chadwick Jr. (upper right corner) is honored at the Corinthian Yacht Club for winning the International championship in the I-110 class in 1954. Bill Buchan Jr. was the National Collegiate Dinghy Champion the same year.

In the first year of the club, experienced sailors shared their knowledge of sailing with beginners who wanted to learn.  The UW crew team was moving out of the Canoe House and the club lobbied to save it from destruction by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Canoe House became the club’s home until the WAC was built. A family, the Clarks, lived in the Canoe House at the same time and rented out canoes as a private business. There was room enough in the canoe house to store the boats and a ramp down to the water made it possible to launch and retrieve them with a winch.

Perry Barth (photo by Ken Howe 2013)

Perry Barth pictured in the top row of the 1949 yearbook HSC page remembered the first year of the club.

In a February 21,2013 interview, I asked Perry why he wanted to join the club and he said that he had grown up around the water and enjoyed water activities.  He joined the club when it formed and attended the early meetings.  He sailed as crew and remembered the strong spring winds.  He did not have time in his senior year (1950) to qualify for the skipper rating.  When he returned for a masters degree a few years later he joined again and continued lessons.  He remembered sailing in the Husky.   Walt Hardman impressed him as being a really good sailor.

The club organized races and formed traveling teams in the first year.  There was excitement in the membership about the sailing team’s potential to make the UW as famous for sailing as it is for crew racing.
March 31, 1949 UW Daily
A Geary 18 "Flattie" probably belonging to one of the club members

April 14, 1949 UW Daily

In a May 20,1949 UW Daily article the NW Intercollegiate Regatta was described:

The photo caption stated that Jon Rose and Don THompson were awarded the trophy in the Geary 18 "Flattie" competition.  They sailed their boat, "Lucky," as individuals.  Jon Rose sailed for the UW in May 22 intercollegiate regatta.  The new Husky Sailing Club defeated teams from the U. of British Columbia, Seattle University, and Everett J.C.
July 7, 1949 UW Daily
In the spring of 1949 the club’s membership drive demonstrated enough interest in sailing that the ASUW loaned the club money to purchase a teaching and racing fleet.
Oct. 24, 1950 UW Daily

Oct. 24, 1950 UW Daily
A campus wide contest was held to name the new Husky boats. The prize was a year’s membership in the club.  The winning idea was to name them after the past school mascots.  UW 2 was named Frosty after the first Malamute.
1951 Tyee
1924 Tyee

March 1, 1951 UW Daily

The name didn’t stick because by 1958 the Frosty boat was just called Husky 2, Dwight Shaw explained when I asked if he remembered the names.
The goal of racing the Huskies was met in the spring of 1951 when the design was recognized for competition.
Feb 27, 1953 UW Daily
March 29, 1951 UW Daily

July 3, 1951 UW Daily

It pays to advertise
May 1, 1951 UW Daily

In February of 1955 a request for a loan to buy six more boats for the UWYC was made to the ASUW finances office.  The rational for the boats was made in this statement accompanying the request.
Penguins being towed back from the lake in 1958 Tyee
 Like the Husky sloops, the club held a contest to name the new boats when they arrived in the spring of 1955.
April 7, 1955 UW Daily
June 27, 1957 UW Daily

April 22, 1955 UW Daily
In an e-mail to me, Ron McFarlane remembered the story of the Penguins.

In February of 1953 I graduated from high school and immediately enrolled at the UW in spring quarter. I soon discovered the UWYC and became involved. There was no active racing program as best I recall but several of us were interested in racing. Somehow in December of 1953 we received an invitation to an intercollegiate racing event at Newport Harbor Yacht Club (California). To the best of my knowledge this was the first time a UW sailing team raced in competition.Of course with limited racing experience we did not do all that well. We did return in 1954 with similar results. As a result discussion began about improving our racing skills. There were four or five of us pushing the need for racing dinghies and I became deeply involved in that activity. Since Penguins were racing just next door in Portage Bay this was an opportunity to compete with a larger fleet.” Ron McFarlane

 “The Penguin fleet was built by Lake Washington Yacht Basin (YABA). We decided to have them coated with fiberglass so they would better survive in the yacht club environment. Of course, we knew they would be heavier than the SYC and other private boats. But we had to have boats for all UWYC members.” Ron McFarlane
April 16, 1958 UW Daily
Frances Church sailing in Frosh Pond for the 1957 membership drive. UW Daily April 4, 1957

February 9, 1955 UW Daily

Frances Church described the sailing club of the 1950s best during a membership drive.


  1. Wow, Ken!

    That's a fantastic couple of posts! Amazing!

    Did you see some of the original documents and loan papers? They're either in the PD office or in the UW archive in the basement of Allen Library.

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  3. Oh, and I heard that the club originally 'squatted' in what was then largely forest; that they then came to the U demanding a loan and support; that the U responded with an understandable, "Excuse me!? You're *who*? Doing *what*? On *our* land"? However, that it was quickly straightened out and the rest of what I heard jives with what I read here.

  4. you are doing a tough task. collecting the old data about yachts and then make it available at one place. yacht charter Dubai