WEST HAWK LAKE YACHT CLUB
The West Hawk Lake Yacht Club, established in 1959, was one of the original clubs in Manitoba. In fact, it was through the efforts of members of the WHLYC that the MSA itself was established. As the MSA website notes:
The history of the Manitoba Sailing Association … has its roots in the early 60’s when sailing really began to expand in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario …
The first indications that people wanted to form a provincial association came from the Executive of the West Hawk Lake Yacht Club who asked their Commodore to test the idea out on other sailors from across the Province.
During the 1960s and into the mid 1970s, the club was extremely active and produced a number of top level competitors. Older racers will remember names like Dr. Max Demarais, Bill Benson Sr and Cam McCulloch. West Hawk Lake was a hot bed for Y-Flyers, Fireballs and Albacores. It had an active Learn-to-Sail program and a member of WHLYC served as Chair of the CYA National LTS Committee in the mid ‘80s.
Regrettably, interest at the club died off and the racing program ended by the early 1980s. The yacht club facility was taken over by a member and used as a family cottage. Ultimately, the Province of Manitoba took the property back for rent arrears and it was sold into private hands in the mid 1990s.
Nonetheless, there remained a number of sailors on the lake and many, many cottagers still had sail boats. Starting in 2005, efforts were made to start organized sailing activities once again. In the spring of 2006, the WHLYC formally resurrected itself and applied for membership in the MSA.
In July 2006, the club ran an extremely successful LTS program using the MSA mobile sailing school running from local cottager Marty Halprin’s beach. The club’s program introduced 20 kids to sailing and for eight straight years now the LTS classes (beginner, intermediate, advanced and adult) have been full.
More importantly, the sailing school served as an impetus for many people to dig their boats out from under their cottages and go sailing. The last day of the sailing school, 10 Lasers came out to sail with the students. That momentum carried through for the balance of the summer, assisted by several club members who offered to help boat owners get their dinghies up and running.
Although the club is virtual, it has a website but no club house as of yet, building plans and materials have been purchased, fundraising has started and the hope is Parks will allow us to build soon! Plans for 2015 are to continue on the success of the last nine summers. The sailing program has been expanded to allow for more sailors in the advanced youth and adult programs. Most of the old club trophies have been located and there are annual races to compete for them (Aug.15-16/15).
Fundraising is still in progress for a club house and our growing fleet of boats: 6 Opti’s, 3 Tumbleweeds, 4 Code 40’s, 2 Y-Flyers & a Laser), marks, parts, etc.