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History of the St Lucie Sailing Club

Our club traces its roots back to about 1973 or 1974 when Don McLean and Charles Burtoff met to discuss forming a local organization which races, cruises, and socializes, and also includes people who had a common interest in sailing.  Around the same time the club was being formed, Clyde Coutant, who was listed with Stuart Chamber of Commerce as the person to contact if you were interested in sailing or racing, organized a regatta for the Chamber to publicize good things about Stuart. The regatta, which attracted about fifteen sailors from Palm Beach and the Stuart areas, was the first one held in many years on our river. As a result of this regatta, Don McLean contacted Clyde to join them in forming the club. In April 1975, Ted Caldwell, Herb Carey, Ty Matlock, Bud Onufrey, and Ken Wright joined McLean, Burtoff, and Clyde Coutant as founders of the club. 

The first serious meeting to organize a sailing club was held in the Agricultural Building which drew about fifteen interested sailors. Other early members who are considered "charter members" include John Crupi, Horace Ford, Hap Walters, Jay Smith, and Ike Stormer. Chuck Burtoff wrote our charter. Our early Refreshment Chairperson was Jo Ann Smith. Horace Ford, with his powerboat, ran the races for many years since his wife was a competitive Sunfish sailor. She probably talked him into running them so she could race. Ken Wright wrote our Log for many years and has the distinction of being the club's only "Honorary" Member.

The burgee was designed by Charles Burtoff and includes an insignia that is thought to represent the three branches of the St. Lucie River (North Fork, South Fork and main river). Folklore also has it that the three blades of the "propeller" on the burgee stand for the three "S's" in St. Lucie Sailing Society, thought to be the original name of the club. A number of members get confused when they fly their burgee and will fly it upside down. The proper way to fly the burgee is have the single "branch" on top and the two "branches" on the bottom. Tradition has it that any member caught flying the burgee upside down is required to buy the next round of drinks. 

Early on, many of our members either did not understand the symbolism of the burgee or thought it looked too much like a propeller. As a result, a contest to design a new burgee was held in 1984. The winning burgee from the design contest went up against the old club burgee with the final count ending up in a tie vote. The Commodore at that time, Bob Willis, then cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the old burgee. As a result, we continue to fly our original burgee. This became known as "The Great Burgee Vote". Many of the wives (especially Anne Willis, wife of the Commodore) were very upset with the outcome of the vote. At that time, there was only one vote per membership and generally, the husbands cast the vote. As a result, the wives initiated a movement to permit spouses to also have a vote. This voting fostered the development of the "family membership" which allowed a vote from each spouse in the family.

The yearly club dues where originally $5.00 for a single person and $10.00 for a couple. Over the years, there were a number of small dues increases and in 2003, they were raised to $40.00 for a "Single Membership" and $50.00 for a "Family Membership" In 2009, the club decided to simplify its dues structure and revert to a single type of membership with one vote per membership. Annual dues are now $80. Still quite a bargain! 

Cruises sponsored by the club to the Bahamas, Keys, and coastal Florida have been an integral part of the organization since its founding. We have had a number of members cruise up the ICW to the Chesapeake and points beyond. A more limited number have cruised other far away places; several have ventured throughout the Caribbean, around the Mediterranean, Hawaii, and around the world. 

Monthly, the club sponsors a local weekend cruise (weather permitting). Some of the favorite destinations include Peck Lake, Herman's Bay, Kitching Cove, Fort Pierce, and the St. Lucie Locks. Early raft-ups were held at Peck Lake, they then moved to Kitching Cove for a few years, and more recently have been held at locations where "land cruisers" could also attend. Monthly Sunday afternoon luncheon raft-ups were very popular from 1984 through early 1987, and currently after Saturday beer can race raft-ups have become popular. 

Of course, racing is quite popular with members of the club.  A number of our members have raced their boats or served as crew in the Bermuda Races from Daytona, Annapolis, and Massachusetts. The Herb Carey Memorial Regatta, the club's most significant regatta, is named in honor of one of our founding members, a very personable and well-liked individual, who was very active in the Club. Herb Carey also had a reputation for having a excellent knack for reading the wind on the river. The Herb Carey is a perpetual trophy that has always been awarded to the winner using our "Club" handicap system. In 1989, an additional perpetual trophy was added to the Regatta. It is awarded to the winner of the race using the PHRF handicap system. In 1995, the PHRF trophy was renamed in honor of Chuck Reade, an avid supporter of the club and a skilled racer, and for the fact that he allowed the club to hold the Herb Carey picnic for many years at his house overlooking the main river. In fact, the first winner of the PHRF trophy was Chuck Reade.

The Don Ellis Memorial Regatta is held during March of each year in the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. Don, our Commodore in 1985, was a strong advocate of our club, who deeply loved sailing and was captain of his delight, the JEAN E. The Regatta is always sailed using our club handicap system in recognition of Don's conviction that the club foster racing by giving all skippers, and especially skippers of cruising boats, a chance to compete. The month and location of the Regatta are in honor of the fact that the last race Don observed was sailed in the North Fork and held during March, as he passed away on April 3, 1986. The Don Ellis Memorial Trophy is a perpetual trophy donated to the club by Jean (Ellis) Harris and was first won by Wayne Rosenburg sailing SNOWGOOSE in 1987. 

The St. Lucie Sailing Club has historically been an orphan when it comes to a meeting location. Early on, we were lucky to be able to use the second floor of the First National Bank. When wives started attending meetings, that became too crowded and we moved to the Hutton Building on the comer of Colorado and Highway One. After that, we moved to the science room of the F.I.T. campus where we were crowded but friendly. The club moved from there to the high school and we all sat at desks. In 1986, we moved to the Langford Park Field House and in 1992 we moved to our current location in the Palm City Recreation Center. Throughout the years, there have been many attempts to organize an effort to get a permanent building. These attempts have proven to be unsuccessful due to prohibitive costs and "laid back" attitude of a majority of club members. 

Historically, the club has operated on a calendar year basis with someone serving as Commodore for a one year elected term. On two separate occasions, brave members volunteered to serve two consecutive terms. They were Doug Sands and Don Amell in 1993/1994 and 1997/1998 respectively. Also, in 2000, Rick Weiler served his second term after taking over for Steve Batsche who had to move in the middle of his 1999 term. Kathy Hansen also served for two years, 2014 and 2015. Asta Poirier served two terms in 2011 and 2012, and 7 months in 2016.

In 1998, a new special membership classification was established. The first Emeritus Membership recognized Dorothy and Clyde Coutant for their many years of dedicated service to the club. Besides Clyde being a founding member of the club, both Clyde and Dorothy have continually supported the club's meetings, cruise activities, and racing. If you are interested in learning about the early days of the club or the early days of Stuart (both are natives), just sit down with them and they will tell you some wonderful stories. 

In January of 2002, our Club 's second Emeritus Membership was awarded to Bob and Anne Willis. Members since 1978, they have been active in all aspects of the club and have always been strong supporters of the club. Bob has held a number of positions in the club including Commodore in 1984, and for a long time, served as the editor and publisher of the Log, our monthly newsletter. Ed Klebaur is third member to achieve the title "Emeritus Member." In recent years, Doug Sands, Margrith Nitschke, Asta Poirier, and Joe Sawyer have been awarded Emeritus status as well. Emeritus Members can be differentiated by * in the Roster. 

The Sailing Club has long been involved in helping to run or running the Blessing of the Fleet. The Blessing is held in the spring of each year and boats from all organizations and independent boats are invited. Many times, our organization has won the trophy for most boats participating in the Blessing. The club has also often participated in the yearly Christmas Boat Parade held in early December. We are the only club to win the trophy awarded to a club or organization with the most boats participating and we have won it five years running. 

2004 was the Year of the Hurricanes. Just twenty one days after Hurricane Frances made landfall on Sewall's Point, Hurricane Jeanne did the same. Both packed winds of over one hundred miles per hour both indelibly left their mark. Stuart was hammered. Thirty one percent of the club member's boats suffered "some damage." Sixteen percent suffered "major" damage. The Northside Marina, Stuart Harbor, and the docks at the Deck Restaurant (a favorite meeting point) were wiped out. Actually, just about every dock on the river proper suffered some damage. It would eventually take until 2006 or so before the club finally resumed its previous active calendar. 

In mid 2007, club member Dick Starita was talking casually with the Director of Recreation for Martin County. Facing severe budget cuts, the County was looking for ways to cut spending. One thing led to another, and over the next eighteen months, a period spanning three commodore's terms, multiple votes within the County Commission and the club itself, SLSC has signed a lease for a portion of Pendarvis Cove Park. When construction is complete, this location will offer club members a storage facility for small boats with their masts up and a center for sailing activities. For the first time in thirty five years, St Lucie Sailing Club owned something. Unfortunately, due to lack of interest for mast-up storage for smaller boats, the Club decided to discontinue the lease in 2012. 

Since it's founding in 1975, the St. Lucie Sailing Club has been the only all sailboat organization in the Stuart area that continues to offer active programs in racing and cruising in addition to sponsoring a spirited social calendar and providing interesting and informative program presentations at monthly meetings, although a number of motorboat owners have joined the club as well. And we welcome their participation in our cruises as well as providing a committee boat for our racing program.

Club Communication - The Roster

Since 1977 the club has, every year, produced a printed copy of member information to allow members to contact each other. In the beginning it was simply a list of members on 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper stapled together. It switched to a booklet format in 1981. Content was gradually added after that, starting with officers' names, past Commodores, etc. This continued up until 2023 when with the implementation of technology, both web and phone app based, all this information was available online and up to date.

Joe Sawyer has a complete collection of the Roster booklet. He kindly lent some copies so they could be scanned and included here for posterity.

1977 The first Roster

Racing History

Racing has been one of the key elements of the St. Lucie Sailing Club throughout its history. The first race of the new club appears to have been on May 18, 1974, (prior to the official formation of the club) with a regatta for "planing hulls" and "displacement hulls." This nomenclature was changed later in the year to "cruising" and "class boats" (Hobies and Sunfish). 

In January 1976, the Club handicap system was devised. Jack Tyer, sailing a Catalina 22, being a consistent and dependable sailor, was used as the "scratch" boat. This simply meant that each boat's finish time was divided by Jack's finish time - the result being the handicap. How frequently the handicap was updated and how many races were included in the calculation was left to the Race Chairman. This system remained in effect until 1982 when the PHRF was introduced in addition to the Club handicap. The idea was to have two separate fleets - one for the more competitive racers and one for the cruising boats. (Turn out for races were always high allowing for multiple fleets. Thirty six boats registered for the Herb Carey race that year) . The skippers were allowed to choose the class. There were now separate starts for each class. About this time, Jack Tyer, now getting along in years, became less involved in racing. This necessitated a change in calculating the base for the club handicap system.

The first attempt was to use the fastest boat as the scratch or base boat. Later, this was refined to use the average of the top three finishers. That system remained in use through 1999 when it was again modified to reflect changing Club requirements. The Club handicaps were continuously updated after each race. The PHRF ratings (pronounced "perf') are developed from the official US Sailing Performance handicap Racing Fleet book. Therefore, for example, the PHRF for all Catalina 25s (with the same configuration) have the same rating, whereas in the Club system, each boat is rated individually based on respective skipper's performance.

In 1985, a decreased number of racers no longer supported two separate class starts, and the committee proposed that all boats start together and be scored under both systems. It was suggested that the PHRF system was for the more competitive racers and the Club was for the cruisers and/or beginners. In 2000 we evolved to the "A" and "B" Fleet designations. With the "A" Fleet boats having a higher sail area to displacement ratio than the "B" Fleet boats, and both fleets sailing under PHRF. As our racing fleet became more competitive, the cruising boats skippers stopped attending racing. In 2002, Norm Oleson and a small committee developed a separate racing program solely for cruising boat skippers called the "Cruising Boat Racing Fleet."  Most races for the cruising boats have had very good turnouts.

The early races were held at the Stuart Causeway and moved to the North Fork around 1976. All racing remained in the North Fork until the Bridge requested that some races be held on their side of the bridge.  At that time, the winter series remained on the North Fork and the Summer Series were moved east of the bridge. In the early 90's, the series races were moved entirely to the east side of the Roosevelt Bridge and new courses laid out to allow for more regular triangular courses, and better up wind and down wind legs. Recently, courses have evolved to windward-leeward races.

Historically, a form of handicap racing has been the mainline of club racing since the late 70's. A number of specialty races have been tried and most still endure. In the beginning there were "one design" races for Hobies and Stars. However, these did not last long.

In 1978 the Herb Carey Memorial Regatta was established in honor of one of the founding members who had recently passed away. The regatta consisted of three races, all sailed on the first Sunday of December. In 1982, this was changed to two races on Saturday and one race on Sunday. A large perpetual trophy is presented to the winner (based on Club handicap). The winners of the trophy are:

Year  Owner  Boat
 2021  No Race  
 2020  No Race  
2019 Steve/Nancy Pikuet Shoo Fly
2018 Richard Rice/ Asta Poirier Wild Rice
2017 Larry Bryant Whisper
2016 Steve Delise Warlock (A Fleet)
2016 Steve Pikuet Shoo Fly (J&M Fleet)
2015 Butch Butcher Swee’ Pea
2014 Richard Rice Hula Girl
2013 Steve & Nancy Pikuet Shoo Fly
2012 Dave Knepper Rum Runner
2011 Dan Hoehner Inevitable
2010 Fred Endemann Catfish
2009 Charlie Eno Victoria
2008 No race
2007 No race
2006 No race
2005 Bill Revkin Heart Throb
2004 Bill Revkin Heart Throb
2003 Carol Pieniadz Spirit Guide
2002 Eric Brennault Swordfish
2001 Ed Luscinskas Some Fun
2000 Joel Wynne Jazz
1999 Joel Wynne Jazz
1998 Walter & Margret Fischer Debit
1997 Noel Brennan Ramblin' Rooney
1996 Steve Garrett Delirious
1995 Ed Luscinskas Not Too Whiree
1994 Ed Klebaur Stargazer
1993 Ed Klebaur Stargazer
1992 Ed Luscinskas Not Too Whiree
1991 Bob Willis Hot Won
1990 Sharon Andre Whisper
1989 Ed Luscinskas Not Too Whiree
1988 Steve Day Millennium Falcon
1987 Dick Starita Haze
1986 Clyde Coutant Pogo
1985 Ed Klebaur Stargazer
1984 Jack Nutall Hot Won
1983 Hans Lukat Windspiel
1982 Lester Lott Windy
1981 Larry Bush Shockwave
1980 Jon West Nautigal III
1979 Bill Grabowski Playmate
1978 Bill Horrocks Blue Goose

With popularity of PHRF, another trophy was introduced in the 1989 for the PHRF winner of the Herb Carey Regatta. This trophy was later named in honor of Chuck Reade, an avid racer, host of the post-regatta party for many years and a past committee chairman. The winners of this trophy are:

2018 No Race
2017 No Race
2016 Dave Garrett Insurgent
2015 Steve Garrett Echo
2014 Bill Baxter Mutineer
2013 Bill Baxter Mutineer
2012 Bill Whittaker Dorado
2011 Bill Baxter Mutiny
2010 Bill Baxter Mutiny
2009 Bill Baxter Mutiny
2008 Bill Baxter Mutiny
2007 Charles Eno Victoria
2006 Bill Baxter Mutiny
2005 Bill Baxter Mutiny
2004 Eric Oster Dollar Corn
2003 Bill Baxter Mutiny
2002 Eric Oster Wiz
2001 Eric Oster Blow Boat
2000 Eric Oster Wiz
1999 Chuck Perna Intrepid
1998 Eric Oster Blow Boat
1997 Chuck Perna Intrepid
1996 Ed Luscinskas Some Fun
1995 Steve Garrett Delirious
1994 Chuck Perna Intrepid
1993 Chuck Perna Intrepid
1992 Steve Garrett Whipper Snapper
1991 Chuck Perna Lively Lady
1990 Stu Anderson Glockenspiel
1989 Chuck Reade San Pan

The Don Ellis Race began in 1987. The perpetual trophy was donated by his wife, Jean, in memory of Don, a past commodore and dedicated racer. Jean's only stipulation was that the race is sailed on the North Fork in March and the results calculated by using the Club handicap. The winners are:

2013 Richard Rice Hula Girl
2012 Jesse Jagoda Sails man
2011 Linda George Odyssey
2010 Tom & Sue Thompson Soon Reach
2009 John Bulduc Latitudes
2008 No Race
2007 No Race
2006 Jim Ingles Rosebud
2005 Bill Revkin Heart Throb
2004 Bill Revkin Heart Throb
2003 Eric Oster Dollar Com
2002 Eric Oster Blow Boat
2000 Noel Brennan

Ramblin ' Rooney

1999 Jim Keeley Wondermutt
1998 Jim Keeley Wondermutt
1997 Wendell Seif Felicity
1996 Reed Haslam Cerulean
1995 Walter & Margret Fischer Copine II
1994 Tim Foley Daystar
1993 Jerry Pfitzner Tina
1992 Fred Yost Zara
1991 Jack & Vera Dunn Erinsong
1990 Ed Klebaur Stargazer
1989 Bob Voeller Water Color
1988 Jim & Cindy Dall Dallphin
1987 Wayne Rosenberg Snow Goose

Page still under construction - more to come

Updated by Paul Loschiavo, February 2009
And updated by Asta Poirier, February 2020