JOLLY ROGER SAILING CLUB
Jolly Roger Sailing Club was formally organized in 1946 by a group of young men and women that had been racing small sailboats for several years. In this group of teenagers wereRonnie Anderson, Dick Gibbs, Bud Schweitzer, Dick and Cleon Reckly, Chuck Fuller, Joe Haslbeck, and Stan Kelly. The first commodore was an "old man" of 16. Early meetings were held on 146th Street in Schweitzer's garage, but Mr. Schweitzer, tiring of the group, let them clean out a chicken shed in his side yard for a clubhouse. Fortunately, the chickens were long gone, so the sailors didn't have to share space. However, the new clubhouse was so small that only the officers were allowed insidemembers had to stick their heads through the window openings to attend meetings. The docks for the club were at a street ending on the river.
These teenage sailors were not old enough to have cars or boat trailers. The Ottawa River Yacht Club members, namelyChet Sabin, often towed their boats to the various clubs around Toledo or weekend regattas. The most memorable tow was by the newly-launched Coast Guard ship "Mackinac" that put the sailboats on deck and took them to Put-in-Bay for the I-LYA regatta. The chicken shed was soon replaced by a modified one-car garage (see photo), and property was purchased on the Ottawa River at the club's present location. This property had to be enclosed and filled. Ottawa River Yacht Club drove the pilings for the youngsters in exchange for the painting of ORYC. By the mid 1950's, the club was well established at its present bulkhead with a floating dock made of telephone poles and a hoist for small boatsthe moving of the house from 146th Street and the composition of the bulkhead itself are stories best left untold. The number of members increased, and money became available to buy property opposite the waterfront that contained a basement occupied by the owner at one time, then condemned by the city. In 1960 construction of the new clubhouse large enough to accommodate the 70 members began. This structure is tie front portion of the present clubhouse, with a larger, back portion added some 18 years later.
The basic requirement for membership was, and still is, ownership of a sailboat. In the beginning,JRSC was a one-design racing club, and a member was required to participate in at least 50% Jolly Roger Sailing Club in the late 1950's of the club races and AYC regattas or pay double dues. Boats over 20 feet long were not allowed, and the excessive use of a motor was cause for suspension. By the late 1950's JRSC had established itself in the world of one-design racing as a power to be reckoned with, for it had produced 16 national champions in just a few brief years. One notable record was accomplished in 1950, when Ron Anderson and Dick Reckly, both with only one useful arm due to polio, Bill Dellen, and Walt Jaworski took first place at the I-LYA Junior Bay Week and went on to win the national title at Cohasset, Maine, which at that time was known as the Wakefield Series. That blue banner still hangs in the clubhouse. To date, club members have won some 35 national titles in classes that include Nippers, Rhodes Bantams, Comets, Interlakes, South Coast 22's, Tasars, Catalina 27's, Flying Scots, 320's, and Catyaks.
Today, JRSC boasts an active membership of 200, over 3 acres of land, 5,000 square feet of air-conditioned clubhouse, and dockage for 80 boats and space for 30 more on trailers on the bulkhead. Thehotdog sailors of the '50's and '60's now have sons and daughters following in their wakes. Only about half of the members now race seriously, and motors (even inboards) are in abundance. Racing sailboats was the beginning and continuing aim of the club. However, with the reality of club members maturing, cruising has been encouraged recently.
Although the club has changed a great deal over the years, its origins have not been forgotten. A strong junior sailing program is maintained to keep young people active in the club (this program includes a sailing school open to children from all AYC clubs). JRSC also puts on the largest one-design regatta in the area theCattail Regatta the first weekend after Memorial Day each year. The Thursday night race series has been popular for many years, and is open, on a limited basis, to non-members. The club has hosted many regional and national sailing events over the years, drawing one-design sailors from all parts of the country. As a payback for some of the help received in past years, JRSC provides meeting space for the Toledo Ice Yacht Club and Western Lake Erie Sailing Club. The University of Toledo Sailing Club also uses the facilities for storage and as its host location for its regattas.
One ofJRSC's past commodores, Jim Fallen, was commodore of Associated Yacht Clubs. And now the club is proud of its past commodore, Dave Shatter, and his wife, Barb, who have spent the past six years working for the affairs of the Inter-Lake Yachting Association and are culminating their accomplishments in the capacity of commodore of I-LYA for 1990.
The best time to visit JRSC is on a Thursday evening during the summer. If you are interested in sailing, get there earlysomeone's always looking for extra crew! If you can stay late, the bar and kitchen will be open, and you can get in on some of the fun that goes along withfriendly rivalries among sailors.
UPDATE May 2019
In 2018 Jolly Roger Sailing club sent three of its junior members to participate in the 36th Annual Lake Garda Meeting Optimist Regatta held in Riva del Garda, Italy. This regatta holds the Guinness World Record as the largest sailing regatta of a single class having hosted 1,055 participants from 27 different countries in 2012. Two of the juniors competed in the “juniores" fleet while the other competed in the “cadetti” fleet. Participation in this event was the result of extensive fundraising efforts which ultimately captured the attention and support of the AYC.