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A Brief History of the Ephraim Yacht Club

A group of 23 enthusiastic men founded the Ephraim Yacht Club on July 24, 1906.  James Hanson, an Ephraim storekeeper, acted as chairman, and Charles Sergil was elected the first Commodore.

In 1912, under the leadership of Commodore Folda, who lived in a beautiful log cabin on Horseshoe Island, the first try for a permanent location was made.  The site chosen was south of the Old Village Hall.  A dock was begun which was destroyed by ice several years later.

A second dock was completed in 1922.  This one disappeared by 1925.  The legend is that the water level sank markedly, leaving the dock high and dry, and the pier was disassembled, but this can’t be substantiated.

In 1926, again under the leadership of Mr. Folda, a 700-foot pier was built opposite the Old Village Hall.  The club prospered and the Ephraim Regatta was moved from Anderson’s Dock to the new pier.  However, in November of 1928, a violent northwest storm destroyed the dock.

The economic crash of 1929 had a sobering effect on the club.  In the anxious years that followed, Warren Davis, Herman Hogenson, Henry Anderson and Malcolm Vail took turns as officers and held the club together.

Finally, in September of 1938, the club was reorganized and reincorporated.  Ivan Thorp bought an old stone barge, filled it with stone, and sank it at the end of his largest pier to form a dock that could withstand the elements.  The north pier, closest to Mr. Bannon’s boathouse, was lengthened.  In 1939, Mr. Thorp offered the club a lease on his north dock.  An agreement was made to purchase Mr. Bannon’s boathouse, with various members making financial loans and contributions.  The boathouse remained on Mr. Thorp’s property but was moved uphill to its present location.  This became the clubhouse.

In 1952, Mr. Thorp deeded the clubhouse and dock to the Village of Ephraim, and the club executed a long-term lease with the Village for the property.

By 1986, the structure of the dock and the club’s finances were both in a precarious state.  Under the leadership of Commodore John McCoy, Charles Sauter spearheaded a very successful fund raising effort.  Their vision greatly energized the club.

In 2007, the time seemed right for some dock improvements.  Under the leadership of Commodore Max Robinette and campaign chair Bill Hoag, a 100-foot pier extension was added along with a second crane.  The existing dock was renovated and excitement was high.  A structural evaluation of the clubhouse was undertaken; renovation was called for.  Commodore David Sauter, campaign chair Bill Hoag and project leader Quinn Brennan dedicated the remodeled clubhouse in 2008.

The Sea Gull fleet began in 1937 and one-design races have been an important part of the club since that date.  The EYC’s Flying Scot fleet began in 1964, and Sunfish were added in the 1970s.  The EYC has also featured racing in Windsurfers, JY-15s, and Flying Juniors.  In 2009 the EYC hosted 74 Flying Scots in the Flying Scot North American Championship regatta, which was named US SAILING’s One-Design Regatta of the Year.  Today the EYC owns over 50 sailboats in four fleets, including Flying Scots, 420s, Lasers and Optimists – all of which are used by members in lessons, racing, and daysailing, free of additional charge.

The first Ephraim Regatta was organized in 1906 by Henry S. Vail, for whom the Vail Cup is named.  The event has been held every year since.  In early years, in addition to sailboat and motorboat races, the regatta included canoe and rowboat races, diving contests, swimming races, canoe tilting, and baby beauty contests.  In the Depression years, prizes consisted of homemade fudge, cookies and tin cups instead of real trophies.