Messrs. W.P. Dudley, Don Clark, Quentin Clark, Ken Dowden, Evold Bang, Ben Carstens Sr., Ben Kaufman, Glen Surprise, J.D. Motto, and Sandy Cesano conceived the idea of starting a Yacht Club on Saturday evening, July 21, 1934 at the Surprise Park Golf & Boat Club.
That evening the Cedar Lake Yacht Club was born and from this point our history begins. The following officers were elected: W.P. Dudley, Don Clark, Quentin Clark, Ken Dowden, Evold Bang, Ben Carstens Sr., Ben Kaufman, Glen Surprise, J.D. Motto, and Sandy Cesano
The Cedar Lake Yacht Club was incorporated under the laws of the State of Indiana on May 8, 1935.
The first race of the Club was held on Sunday afternoon, July 22,1934, at 2:00 P.M. For the first few years racing was not that of a one-design type, but rather with an open fleet were all types of sailboats that were encouraged to participate. In 1938, E-Scows were raced as a one-design fleet. The E-Scows are 28 ft. sloop rigged scows that carry a main sail, jib and spinnaker. At their peak of popularity, the Club had fourteen (14) E-Scows racing and that lasted up until 1944. There was no racing during the 1945 season, but racing resumed again in 1946 and continued until 1951. During the years of 1952-1956 the Club was inactive due to tough times after W.W. II.
The Club was reborn in the summer of 1956. Dr. Wayne A. & Ethel Mae Dudley purchased a houseboat which became a floating “committee boat ” clubhouse. They also picked up the Club cannons, stopwatch and other various racing gear from Wayne’s father, W.P. Dudley. We were back in business!
During the fall of 1956, Ben Carstens Jr., Joe Sirotek, Dr. Glen Moser, Art Kirste, Phyllis Simberg, Mark Ellison, Dr. Jim Nolan and Dr. Wayne A. Dudley met to discuss what type of boat should be raced at the Club. It was decided that E-Scows were too expensive for the general membership. However, there just happened to be three (3) C-Scows on the lake. Later that fall season a trip was made to Melges Boat Works in Zenda, Wisconsin and two used C-Scows were purchased by Dr. Glen Moser and Dr. Wayne A. Dudley. In 1957, W.P. Dudley purchased a new Melges C-Scow bringing the fleet total up to six. And away we go!
During a 1958 birthday celebration for Dr. Wayne A. Dudley at Tobe’s Steakhouse, the idea of purchasing a permanent home for the Yacht Club was discussed over beers. In 1958 the Ben-Ric-Way Corporation was formed with the original stock being owned by Dr. Wayne A. Dudley, Ben Carstens Jr. and Dickie Gross.
Who is Dickie Gross you ask? Well he just happened to be the real estate agent selling the property and he wanted to secure his commission. Business Cedar Lake style!
The current building and grounds were purchased in February of 1959 with Ben-Ric-Way Corporation as the owner. This structure was the former summer home of one Chris Lasen, a famous local who owned the complex to the south. Ben-Ric-Way continued as owner until
1964 when it was decided the facilities should be owned by the general membership.
To raise the capital necessary to purchase Ben-Ric-Way stock, thirteen life memberships were sold at $500 each. Life members consisted of the following persons: Dr. Wayne A. Dudley, William Dudley, Cecil Hays, George “Bud” Adams, John Barker, Ted Kloeckner, Jim Linge man, Chuck LoVerde, John “Hans” Mees, Dr. Glen Moser, Dr. Albert Kazwell, Mike Peterman, and Ben Carstens Jr. Thank you guys!
Our facility has undergone many changes over the years. The upstairs bar was added in 1960. Previously the bar was located in a former bedroom in the southwest corner. There was even a slot machine. In those days Lake County Indiana was noted for gambling of all sorts. It was common to place a bet on a horse while dining at Tobe’s Steakhouse.
Since each year scow racing became more popular a crane for boat launching became necessary. Through the generosity of the Carstens family, a crane was installed which is still used today. Not a bad piece of Yankee Engineering.
The year of 1976 proved to be one of the most important. Badly needed land was purchased from the lake County Christian Assembly organization, our former neighbors to the south. Under the solid leadership of William Dudley, Dr. Richard Kazwell and Steve Tuhy this valuable asset was added. Subsequent to the Town of Cedar Lake’s purchasing said property, the Club was offered the entire parcel. However, since our resources were limited as much property as was financially feasible at the time was obtained forming the property lines that exist today.
Phase one of the renovation which shaped the Clubhouse as it is today began on a Sunday evening in the Fall of 1983. Tad Dudley and Craig Parker decided that the bar facility needed a face-lift. Before another six-pack was gone, so was the floor committed hook, line and sinker. With money being scarce, the general membership once again showed its generosity. Over 90% of the material costs came from the hearts and pockets of the members. In addition, labor was supplied by the general membership. These guys loved punishment. The bar and back-bar were built, fireplace and wood floor added, new stairwell added and the washrooms were completely remodeled. The phase one construction period went from the fall of 1983 to the spring of 1984 and finally in the fall of 1985 phase two got its start.
Since the building was never more than a summer home much work was still necessary to make it structurally sound and weather resistant. The work crew had many of the same people as phase one and to try and name them all would only have someone missed. The structure was completely gutted out, insulated from top to bottom, structural steel added, new windows, vinyl siding installed and last but not least, the kitchen was remodeled with a walk-in cooler added. Wait a minute, “it ain’t over till it’s over,” the pier needs replacing.
During the fall of 1990, the enormous task of replacing the entire pier began. Under the direction of Tom Echterling and a cast of thousands (many of the same nuts as above) this project became a wonderful reality by the spring of 1991. Today the Club has the best pier structure on Cedar Lake.
Racing at the Club intensified during the 1960s. In 1962, the Club petitioned the Inland lake Yachting Association for membership. At that time no new clubs had been admitted into the association for twenty years. However, Dr. Wayne Dudley and crew nervously awaited the vote for membership. Finally, we were granted membership that year, 1962.
In 1965, the Club hosted the ILYA M-16 Championship and in 1966 the Invitational. Not bad for three years old! More sanctioned regatta’s followed as we hosted the 1968 National Butterfly Class Championship. The Butterfly’s couldn’t get enough and returned for the Blue Chip in 1977. Starting in 1963, the now famous Icebreaker Regatta was born. During the first years of this regatta, C-Scows and M-16 Scows were raced. That format lasted until 1972, the last season for the M-16 class on Cedar Lake.
During the 1962 season another new tradition began, the Ice Breaker Regatta. The 16 ft MC-Scow class currently is being raced and that same tradition of top quality scow racing has carried over from the Ice Breaker. The 1992 season will have three scow classes actively racing, MC, C and E. During the years 1963-71, two 38 ft A-Scows were raced at Cedar Lake. High cost of operation was a contributing factor to their end.
After a forty-two year absence, the E-Scow returned with a fleet of three boats. The various fleets raced Wednesday evening, Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning and afternoon. In addition, holiday series were held Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day.
The Cedar lake Yacht Club enjoys a long tradition of scow racing and camaraderie of the membership. The history of our club is rich, the cast of characters unique and our forecast great.
Honorary Board Member