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Grand Lake Colorado History

Published on 2/26/2019

Grand Lake Colorado YC is hosting it's now famous Western Shootout Regatta on June 29-30 2019. 
This will be the third time for this event and anyone who has attended will declare this to be a a very special and memorable regatta.

Below is an article from a 1969 REPORTER magazine (Vol 5 No 1). Its a brief history of Grand Lake YC and the type of fun (shenanigans) they had in 1969 is alive and well in 2019!

Side Note -- Most all the REPORTER Magazines are available on the website.  The menu item is in 'History & Archives'.

Richard C. "Dick" Campbell HI very kindly provided the following information about the Grand Lake Yacht Club and the story and cover photography. Comments in parenthesis are the result of a telephone
conversation between Dick Campbell and the editor:

We are very happy to bring you news from the Grand Lake Yacht Club, which is the oldest yacht club in the Rocky Mountain area. Founded in 1901, the club is situated on Grand Lake, which is 100 miles from Denver at an altitude of 8,800 feet, on the western slope of the Rockies. We have eight E-scows on the lake at the present time.

... (the club was conceived in 1900 as an elaborate "put on" by Dick Campbell's grandfather and Mr. Harry Bryant. Lloyd's of London were sent glowing reports of this extremely active, if fictional center of Yacht racing. Sufficient momentum developed from the hoax to produce genuine sailing activity, other than rowboats and the Grand Lake Yacht Club became a matter of actual record in 1901.)

Grand Lake is a natural crater lake with depths well over 350 feet. It is surrounded on all sides by steep hills and mountains, with ravines and gorges causing the most perplexing wind conditions imaginable. Rain squalls have produced winds exceeding 70 miles per hour, and the average
water temperature is around 55 degrees. The incentive to remain upright is powerful, but sometimes capsizes are unavoidable.

... (Grand Lake is the locale of abandoned gold mines and became favorite fishing and hunting grounds for Denverites also affording cool summers due to its altitude.)

Jim and Mary Lou Munn

Though yacht club sailors compete for very beautiful cups, the club's most prized possession is an original Upton Cup, given to the club in person by Sir Thomas Lipton in 1913. It is a handsome, irreplaceable trophy, and is competed for as a challenge cup every year.

... (When the Grand Lake sailors got wind of a
cross-country trip, promoting Lipton Tea, they contacted Sir Thomas and invited him to stop off in Denver to be the honored guest of the posh Denver Club. No extravagance in the form of wine, whiskey, cigars, oysters and steaks was overlooked, and the Grand Lake Yacht Club members, wearing Admiralty- rank rental gear succeeded in fabricating an image of great Mountain lake racing fleets in Sir Thomas' mind, as the evening wore on. That there were barely ten nondescript boats available for competition was no deterrent to the grand banquet mood which resulted in the guest of honor presenting a magnificent trophy to the Colorado sailors.)

There are approximately 120 members in the yacht club and other classes are sailed besides the E-class. We have a regatta week every year, which starts about the 10th of
August. There is also weekend sailing during the month of July and an annual invitational regatta, which this year will be held on July 12 and 13.


... (The courses now sailed are basically Gold Cup but in former years race committees set some complex courses involving between six to eight different legs. An early rule imposed on the fleet was quote: "The first boat to round a mark has right of way, regardless of respective tacks. This rule understandably provided some astonishing maneuvers.)

Top sailors in last year's competition were Dr. James Munn, RichardC. Campbell, MacRuske and Scally O'Donnell.


Along the local news front, we are remodeling our yacht club, which dates back more years than we care to remember. The principal feature of the new construction will be a fully enclosed crow's nest, which will afford more protection for the harried race committee on blustery days. We hope to have more news later and wish all other E-scow fleets good sailing for the coming season.