Our History

SSC 1937Faced with an increase in dock fees at Sandusky's Battery Park Marina, a group of sailors decided to organize a protest; the result was the founding of the Sandusky Sailing Club.  The first formal meeting was held on Aug. 4, 1932 in Worthy Brown's office at the foot of Meigs Street.  The 44 charter members elected Carl Miller as their first commodore and set their dues at 25 cents per year.  The member's boats were of all types, sizes and shapes, so organized racing was by handicap in two divisions, "A" and "suicide" (little boats).

The next year, 1933, a group expressed a desire for a single class which would be a good family boat, fast but with a simple rig, economical and easily home built.  They hired Francis Sweisguth, designer of the "Star" (now an Olympic boat), to draw up designs.  His first effort, a 22-foot keel boat, was rejected because of the deep draft and the fact that the dock fees at Battery Park charged from 25 cents a foot to 60 cents a foot at 18'1".  The new design was therefore 18' in length, had a centerboard, a larger cockpit and a simpler rig.  It was called the SC2 (Sandusky Sailing Club Class - squared), and construction began immediately.

In 1933, S.S.C also saw the first evidence of a clubhouse.  Members leveled a pile of ricks, and on land leased from the city on a year-to-year basis, they built a very small, simple, one-room building using volunteer help and donated materials.  By 1935, five of the new "SC2" boats were sailing and participated in that year's I-LYA Regatta.  The club controlled the "class" until early in 1936 when a separate class association was formed.  The boat today is known as the "interlake' and the sail insignia and the Sandusky Sailing Club burgee are, not without reason, basically identical.

Other one-designs soon showed up at the club: the Lyman Cat and "K" Cats.  In 1938 a room, galley and restrooms were added, again with volunteer labor.  The original club room them became known as the "Commodore's Room."  That year also saw the formation of the Sandusky Junior Sailors and that fall the first class of 14 new sailors graduated.  At the 1945 I-LYA Regatta an impressive new boat was introduced and shortly thereafter, Thistle Fleet No. 3 was formed at SSC.  Fleet member Jim Hendrickson became a two-time national champion and together with rival George Butts these two finished in the top three at the Thistle National Championships eight times.

In 1949, the clubhouse was again enlarged, doubling the size of the meeting room.  This time the money was donated as a memorial.  SSC members Paul Koch and Norm Winkel worked for the second rebirth of the Interlake Class and assisted Vince DiMaio, founder of Customflex, in converting the class from wood to fiberglass, starting with boat number 160.  All three were later honored with lifetime memberships by the Interlake Sailing Class Association.  In 1953, the Sandusky Junior Sailors received national attention when David Ortman, Ellen Seaman and Forbes Hotchkiss won the North American Yacht Racing Union's Junior Sailing Championship.  This was also the first national championship for I-LYA.

Although for several years big boats were racing under the SSC burgee, organized offshore racing did not begin at SSC until 1956 when Jim Huntley and Norm Winkel founded the Lyman, now renamed as the Sandusky Islands Race, which today is considered one of the top offshore races on the Lake Erie circuit.  Regular offshore activity did not begin, however, until after 1960 when the club did a figurative and literal turnaround.

The front of the SSC clubhouse, which faced Battery Park Marina, was modified 180 degrees to face the newly created Sadler Sailing Basin.  This area had formerly been the sludge basin for the Sandusky Water Department.  This marina is now recognized as a vital part of the Sandusky Sailing Club.

With the new marina, the character of the club began to change and membership grew rapidly.  One-design members with growing families acquired larger cruising/racing boats. The marina also attracted "out of towners" who could weekend at the club on their cruising boats; soon thereafter an offshore racing series began.

In 1961, SSC members formed the Midget Lake Racing Club (MORC), with Burt Hord as commodore.  MORC grew rapidly on Lake Erie and SSC members have ever since figured prominently in MORC activity both locally and nationally.  Jim Snodgrass served as International Commodore in 1962, Dale Walker in 1984-1985, most recently P/C Bryan Huntley in 1997-1998, with Station 14 having furnished a total of five International Commodores and six members of the MORC Hall of Fame, including two from Sandusky, Jim Snodgrass and Dick Beurmann.

With the advent of IOR rule in 1968, a small but quality fleet developed, with a most notable achievement by John Root, with "Fine Feathers," winning first class one winter in the "Big League" SORC.  Jim Roberts figured prominently in bringing PHRF racing to Lake Erie and SSC yachts are continually a potent force in the huge PHRF fleet.  As an offshoot of PHRF, Dick Hamilton was a leader in promoting JAM (Jib and Main) racing on Lake Erie.

In recent years, J-24 and Tartan 10 fleets have been added to the SSC fleet and the 1985 & 1997 T-10 national champ was SSC member George Ward, sailing "Wine Squall."  At the I-LYA Centennial Regatta in 1985, Jim Johns with "SKIM" led a clean sweep by SSC, taking first through fourth in the huge 44-boat T-10 fleet.

With all this growth, the clubhouse again needed expansion and improvement but the annual land lease agreement with the city was a deterrent to any major investment.  Finally after negotiating a long-term lease in 1978, a magnificent new clubhouse was constructed and dedicated on April 14, 1980, and the original building razed.  A prominent feature in the new building, however, is a handsome fireplace constructed from stone salvaged from the original "Commodore's Room" from the first clubhouse, thus heritage and tradition live on.  In 1992, a sheltered patio was constructed on the northeast side of the clubhouse.

Today with an extremely practical yet handsome clubhouse, large dry sail areas for boat storage, four launching cranes, a ramp, a growing marina with electricity and water for the larger yachts, the beautiful protected waters of the Sandusky Bay for one-design racing and the Lake Erie Islands at the front door for the larger boats to race around and cruise to.  Sandusky Sailing Club offers its members facilities unmatched in North America.  With active Learn to Sail and Junior Racing programs, racing series and cruising activities for all sizes and types of yachts both one-design and offshore, an outstanding and dedicated race committee and a willingness to regularly sponsor national and international sailing events, that the quality of seamanship and fellowship at SSC are of the highest order.