A Brief History of Junior Sailing at BLYC
Commodore Steve Harris – June 2013
Although youth sailing has certainly existed at the Club as long as we’ve raced sailboats, the earliest references to Junior Sailing in our historical archives are from the 1950’s – about the same time that the Inter-Lake Yachting Association began its “Junior Bay Week” Regatta at Put-in-Bay. Junior Bay began in 1956. In those early years, BLYC dominated. In both 1956 and 1957, skipper Jim Dressel (P/C 1980) along with crew Ed Ballenger (P/C 1981), Marty Headlee, and Jeff Dum won both Junior Bay and the US Sailing Area E Championships and went on to compete in the Junior National Championships for the Sears Cup.
Over the years, our Juniors have represented BLYC well and brought home numerous of trophies from Junior Bay and other youth events. Several who started their sailing careers here have gone on to be recognized as being at the top of the sport in the United States. Greg Fisher is, today, one of the most recognized and accomplished competitors in U.S. Sailing history – 21 North American or National Championships in seven different classes, and winner of the 2008 J/22 Class World Championship. Matt Fisher has won several National and North American Championships in both the Lightning and Interlake Classes, the Gold Medal at the 1991 Pan-American Games, and the 2009 Lightning Class World Championship. Will Petersilge, Dan Dressel, and Dan Roshon won the Junior National Championships and brought the prestigious Sears Cup home to BLYC in 1977 – the first ever inland lake Club to win it! Buckeye Lake has also produced three Lightning Class Junior North American Champions – Will Petersilge, Matt Fisher, and Mike Hein. Mike went on to crew on two Maxi Class World Championship teams and on the 1992 Americas Cup winning boat, America3. Over the years, a number of BLYC Juniors have also gone on to race competitively in college as well – in recent years; Evan Miller (OSU), Mallory Miller (OU), Halle Harklau & Austin Miller (Wittenberg), and Gwen Mulvey, Commodore of the OSU Sailing Team.
However, BLYC Junior Sailing is far more than just those who have made it to the top of the sport. Over the years, our Juniors have consistently been recognized for their performance both on and off the water. In addition to bringing home many trophies for sailing, BLYC Teams have won the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club Trophy for Team Sportsmanship at Junior Bay several times. Year after year, we hear compliments from regatta officials and other Clubs about our team. After all, the true success of our program is not the “hardware” our sailors put in the trophy case, but the fact that it produces lifelong sailors and boating enthusiasts who continue to participate not just in the sport of sailing, but also in helping to make our Club the great place that it is. Many of our past Juniors are still quite active in the Club – including (but certainly not limited to) P/C Jim Dressel, P/C Ed Ballenger, Marty Headlee, Sue (Ballenger) Headlee, Bill Reynolds, Tom Reynolds, Phil Schell, P/C Frank Foster IV (1998), Bill Kumler, Mike Jacobs Jr., Tami (Headlee) Schroeder, Tracey (Hein) Davis, Samantha Falter, Chris Reynolds, Ryan Russell, and Kara Mulvey.
While the 2013 season is just getting started, this year’s Junior Bay Week Team includes veterans Colin Gutridge and Michael Davis along with newcomers Matthew Davis and Suzannah Schroeder. As plans get underway this coming month, there are several other youth at BLYC who plan on competing in junior regattas this season, too. It should be an exciting time.
BLYC Junior Sailing is something that we all, as Club members, can take pride in. We are fortunate to have a great group of youth at our Club, not just those who sail but also those who help and support the program, and work in numerous other ways. This year, there are several opportunities to come out and show your support – Saturday Junior Regattas at Hoover, Sandusky, and Cleveland to name a few, and, of course, Junior Bay.
This year’s Junior Bay Week is July 21-25 at Put-in-Bay and is being chaired by BLYC’s own Matt & Tracey Davis. In its 58-year history, BLYC members have chaired this event 7 times! (Cliff Dum – 1957, 1964; P/C George & Marty Fisher – 1975; Tom & Patti Greiner – 1981 (as PIBYC); P/C Steve Harris – 2006; and, Matt & Tracey Davis – 2009, 2013). As we always do, BLYC will have a picnic on Wednesday evening at the PIBYC Pavilion to support and recognize our team. Come on up, watch some racing, enjoy the Bay, and support our Juniors. They are not only a highlight of our Club’s history, they are also our future.