Begun in 1874, this club continues to grow
A photo gallery of this Mystery Place is HERE
The Lake Geneva Yacht Club is located on Geneva Lake and South Shore Drive. This group was first organized in 1874. Their first commodore was N.K. Fairbanks.
According to one story I heard, Gen. Sheridan, of Civil War fame, came to this area to do some fishing on Geneva Lake. He noticed some of the sailboats on the water and asked if they did any racing. His friends said nothing really organized but something could be arranged. Thus, the first Sheridan Cup Race was organized.
That first race was the start of the Geneva Lake Yacht Club. The Sheridan Cup Race has been held annually ever since. Julian Rumsey was the owner of the winning first race. He was the winner of many of the early races.
In the early 1890s, another club was organized in the Fontana area called the West End Yacht Club. In 1894, these two clubs reorganized into the Lake Geneva Yacht Club. They had their own building on rented property at Cedar Point from 1906 until 1915. For the next 10 years they were without a yacht club building. They continued to race each year using one of their member’s piers.
In 1925, some of their officers and some members were determined to find a home for the club. They found a home on the south shore almost opposite the mouth of Williams Bay. The building was remodeled and piers and docks were installed. They shared the property with the Geneva Lake Boat Company.
In 1941, they started the sailing school to help young people learn and enjoy the art of sailing. This school was reorganized as the Geneva Lake Sailing School in 1953.
The yacht club’s lease with the Geneva Lake Boat Company ended in 1967. Ernest Schmidt donated a strip of land just east of the boat company. This area was cleared and new facilities were installed. In 1989, the yacht club purchased the Geneva Lake Boat Company property.
The club continues to grow and improve. Their members increase their skills over the years and have received national and international recognition. Two outstanding members are Harry C. (Buddy) Melges Jr. and Jane Pegel.
At the present time the club is in a planning and fundraising stage. They want to replace their club house and sailing school buildings with a new structure. It is planned to honor Melges.
An 84-page history was written by Hal Hamlin, their centennial chairman, in 1974. It is filled with lots of pictures and stories about the various races and sailors.