History

On Sunday, September 9,1934, fourteen sailors raced off shore from the Edgewater Landing Hotel. As a result of this interest in sailboat racing, eight of those sailors met on Thursday, September 13, and formed the Edgewater Yacht Club. The  founding  members were:Harlan Dickey, Bernice Groskpf, Herman Holler, Oscar Olsen, Allan (Dutch) Roy, Robert Siemer, Robert Lee Smith, and Bernard Starck. Of the charter members, Harlan Dickey was elected Commodore, Dutch Roy, Vice Commodore, and Bernice Groskopf, Secretary.

 

The first meetings were held at the hotel and the races sailed off shore. A club constitution was for­mulated by Chairman Oscar Olsen and was adopted on October 13,1934. A club burgee, designed by Bob Siemer, was to be a red pennant with a white chevron. H. Morton Jones donated the first trophy for racing.

 

In March, 1935, the name was changed to Niagara Sailing Club. The race course was shifted upriver to a new location, now the present site of NSC. Meetings were held at the homes of members. Annual Club dues were $7.50 for a family membership and $5.00 for a single membership.

 

On May 15,1935, the Club held the first banquet at the YWCA, North Tonawanda and on Memorial Day of this same year, the members held the first cruise around Grand Island.  

 

On November 12,1935, an Awards Banquet was held at the Westbrook Hotel Marine Room. Since then, until about 2001, all awards banquets have been held in November. The Annual Awards Banquet was renamed the Commodore's Banquet in 1990.

 

A newsletter, "THE JIB", was established in 1935. The original copy, kept by Harlan and Bea Dickey, is now in the club scrapbook. For some reason, the newsletter was dropped over the years, but re-established in March, 1986.

 

From 1935 to 1941, before the clubhouse was built, the members would sail their boats from the Tonawanda / North Tonawanda shore to Grand Island and return home after the races. The com­mittee boat (and clubhouse of sorts) was a cruiser, "Lazy Daze", owned by Barton Wardell.

 

In March, 1938, the land presently occupied by the Club was leased from the Stafford Estate for $75.00 In 1941, the first clubhouse was built at a cost of $206.12 - a few cents over the estimate of PC Irving (Hockey) Holler, chairman of the Building Committee. The entire building was built by the members. In 1949, the land of the present site was purchased from the Stafford Estate. The clubhouse had little more than protection to offer, but through the years, improvements were made, and in 1956, the interior was paneled and a kitchen, bar and heating system were installed.

 

In 1941, Bernice (Groskopf) Dickey was elected Commodore. She was known to be the only woman commodore of a yacht club in the United States at that time. Since then, the Club has had four lady commodores: PC Diane Knight, PC Candy Mc-Combs, PC Judy Walker, and PC Sue Dobmeier.

 

Prior to 1953. a temporary dock was installed every spring by the members and removed in the fall. Then in 1953, driven piles were installed and perma­nent docks were built; the up­stream dock was in the shape of a left-handed "F" to provide dockage for guest powerboats; the down­stream dock had ramps to provide dry storage for the small boat fleets of Thistles, Jollys, International 14s, and Albacores. The short leg of the main dock was removed in 1976 to provide for more in-water mooring for Ravens. Lightnings and Hobies were dry sailed on their own trailers on the concrete ramp next to the hoist.

 

The flagpole at Niagara Sailing Club is a replica of a whaler mast and was built by members in 1955. Designed by PC Bob Siemer, a well know commercial artist, the 55 foot high mast was carefully scaled and built to the size of a mast of the old Bark Sailing Vessels. Much research went into the work. Don Beverage and PC Irv  Holler, designers for the old Richardson Boat Company, and PC Joe Holler did most of the detailed wood­work. In July of that year, a ceremony was held for the formal dedication of the flagpole in memory of Past Commodore Percy Bo wen.

 

In 1956, the Commodore's Punch Bowl was presented to NSC. It was the idea of PC George (Bud) and Lois Kroening and PC Jerry and Dorothy Blake. The bowl, made of chrome plated steel, is mounted on a wooden base, which was turned by Don Beverage. On the base are small chrome plates with the name of each past commodore. A deed of gift was hand lettered by Lois Kroening and signed by the charter members. It was framed and now hangs in the main room of the clubhouse.

 

In 1963, the property shoreline was extended and a cement retaining wall was installed.

 

In 1965, PC Jerry Blake was appointed to head a building committee for a new clubhouse. Committee members were: PC Bob Aschenbach, Bob Haefner, PC Herm Holler, PC Joe Holler, PC David Holmden, PC Bud Kroening, PC Dick Manz, PC Bernie Starck, and PC Joe Tries. On Sunday, October 2,1966, a ground breaking ceremony was held. Members included in the news coverage photo were: Flag Officers, the Building Committee, PC Hockey Holler- representing the life members, Alice Hooper- representing the women, and Gary Wagner- representing the junior members.

 

The new clubhouse was built for $20,000. A contractor built the structure and members finished the inside. Funds for the wrought iron railing, paneled wall and the bar were raised through donations and garage sales. The furniture in the main room was pur­chased by the women, who raised the money from a fashion show held at the Buffalo Launch Club.

 

In 1971, an in-ground swimming pool was built and was officially opened in time for the Niagara River Lightning Championship Regatta held in July. PC Jack Swanson was Building Chairman.

 

In the early 70s, PC Herm Holler bought the first Sunfish in the Club, which was the beginning of a large fleet of Sunfish and Lasers and the begin­ning at the Club of single handed racing.

 

By the mid '70s, PC Judy Walker started a women's sail training program using Lightning and Sunfish class boats. That progressed into a long series of junior sailing programs conducted by Nora Clements, PC Bob Starck, and PC Cal Schmiege until 1994, when most of the juniors grew up and moved on. The junior program and racing, in general, remained dormant for several years until it   was resurrected in 2001 with more than 35 juniors enrolled. This program used Tech Dinghys, Sunfish, and Lasers under the direction of PC Chuck Meyer Jr. and a host of helping instructors: PC Jeff and Mary Cooke, Eileen (Holler) Jarosz, PC Jim Holler, PC Bruce Kaiser, PC Candy McCombs, PC Tom Owen, JT Tomkins, PC Judy Walker, and PC Frank and Joan White.

 

In 1984, Niagara Sailing club celebrated its Golden Jubilee with a gala party held on Saturday, August 4. It was attended by many past and pres­ent members, including Charter Members PC Herm Holler and PC Bernie Starck.

 

On June 27,1987, NSC held a Mortgage Burning Party. The new clubhouse was paid for! At­tending were five members of the original Building Committee and Dorothy Blake, wife of Building Committee Chairman, PC Jerry Blake.  

 

Prior to 1989, the Club did not have moorings for powerboat members, but, as the number of sail­boats diminished, and for lack of sufficient operating funds, members with powerboats were accepted and provided mooring. To help increase membership, the Club has accepted a large number of non-boat owner applicants with common boating interests.  

 

Maintenance of the Club has always been per­formed by club members except where heavy equipment might be necessary. In 2002, PC Jim Holler and PC Frank White completely rebuilt the rotting wood flagpole gaff, yardarm, main topmast, made new halyard blocks, and replaced all halyards. Volunteers did the flagpole scraping and repainting. In 2007-2008, PC Ray Dan Jumbo and a team of volunteers built a 'one car garage' in the 'back forty' to store lawn mowers and other equipment that were crowding the basement storage rooms. Of course, wood decking on the docks and pool area and the pool liner are always in need of periodic replacement.

 

A complete history of the club and a journal of the boats that won and placed in competition are contained in two large scrapbooks. They contain newspaper clippings and photos that date back to 1934. Volume I was started in the early forties by Lois Kroemng and continued in 1963 by Marcy Holler. Volume II was started in 1972. The scrap-books were retired in 1985. A new book containing copies of the JIB was begun as a continuance of the club's history. These books are now stored in a new Trophy Cabinet, that was built by PC Frank White.