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A Brief History of the Origins of the Stockton Lake Governor's Cup Regatta

Denny Pilant, August 1999

The new dam forming Lake Stockton was dedicated in the summer of 1972. To celebrate the

occasion a regatta was held to help promote the recreational possibilities of the new lake.

The Lake Jacomo Sailing Club was asked to provide a race committee and sent an excellent

crew down to run the race. As I remember the occasion we completed one race in wind

gusting to about 3 mph and then the rest of the races had to be abandoned when the wind

died completely. I remember Cliff McKay being rowed off the lake lustily singing an aria

from The Flying Dutchman as he was hauled off the water. It was not an auspicious beginning

for a promising new sailing lake. After the race, someone had iced down the entire bed of a

pickup truck and filled it with everyone's favorite beverages, so the event was not a total

loss.

After the Dam Dedication Regatta the Queen City Sailing Club (QCSC) in Springfield

discussed the possibility of moving their weekly Sunday regattas from Fellows Lake (the

municipal water supply) to Stockton. With one or two exceptions all agreed that it was simply

too far to drive to Stockton when one could be at Fellows Lake in ten minutes and in half an

hour be set up for Sunday races. In any case there were no sailing facilities at Stockton

close to the city of Springfield.

Enter Bruce Blomgren. Bruce was a sailor from Illinois who had been working for the Illinois

Governor but had accepted a job as Communications Assistant to Governor (now U.S.

Senator) Bond. While touring with state officials who were determining how to augment

economic development in the state he crossed the MO 215 (mile long) bridge across Stockton

Lake sometime in 1973. (Later he told us that when he came out onto the bridge and looked

down the lake towards the dam he felt like he had just seen a local version of Lake Michigan).

Bruce looked out over Stockton Lake and saw in his minds eye a recreational Mecca with

hundreds of sailboats occupied by sailors from all over the region. Keep in mind that this is at

a time when there are all of 8 or so sailboats on Stockton Lake--most under 21 feet--and all

of them at Orleans Trail Marina. Stockton State Park Marina did not yet exist at its present

location.

When Bruce returned to Jefferson City he tracked down the Queen City Sailing Club and

telephoned me as an officer in the club. He wanted to know if we would be interested in

helping sponsor a Governor's Cup Regatta on Stockton Lake. Due to Bruce's enthusiasm and

encouragement from the Governor's Office the state parks people in Jefferson City had

already contacted local people at Stockton and had set up a meeting.

Bill and Leslee Jaquette, Cliff McKay, and Mary and I met with a Mr. Burridge and Mr.

Oldman (who I believe were from the Corps of Engineers), Col. (Ret.) Fitzhigh, Dwaine

Hammons, and several others whose names I do not recall, at the Stockton Country Club. We

discussed what would be needed to put on a major regatta. Many other people helped out at

one time or another. Ferrell Mears, the "grand old man of sailing" in Springfield--as sea scout

sponsor he taught 90 percent of the sailors in the Springfield are how to sail--and Jack

Cooper of Harry Cooper Supply in Springfield, were among those who contributed to bringing

off the regatta.

The state parks people wanted us to run the regatta out of the State Park as part of their

50th Anniversary of the Missouri State Parks system. At that time the only facility at the

State Park was a launch ramp. The state agreed to put in some docks and a pavilion to

facilitate the regatta. The present pavilion on the rise of land south of the state park marina

and the finger docks in front of it would probably not be there today if it were not for the

first Governor's Cup. It did not occur to those building the docks that they needed to be

close to the ramp so dinghy sailors would have something to tie up to while they rigged their

boats--but then I guess you can't think of everything!

The Queen City Sailing Club, the Stockton Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Department

of Natural Resources and State Parks Division all worked together to put on the regatta. The

QCSC worked with the Central States Sailing Association (CSSA) to have an officially

sanctioned regatta. The state parks people put on radio and newspaper ads all over the state

advertising the regatta, as did the CSSA (which covered Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas).

Individual volunteers from Stockton helped provide boats, including a pontoon boat for use by

the RC. The local Stockton US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla provided safety patrol. Leslee

Jaquette sewed together some of the signal flags (some of which may still be in use!). We

decided that we did not want a wimpy sound horn for the signals. When the gun went off we

wanted a real gun. So we secured a shotgun with the proper kind of blanks--finding the

proper kind of blank turned out to be a real job--but they were found. Cliff McKay, then a

philosophy professor at Drury College (who is now retired and cruising the Bahamas in a

Catalina 34) agreed to head the RC.

The first annual Missouri Governor's Cup Regatta was held June 8-9, 1974. We were afraid

no one would show up. After all Stockton Lake was not exactly a well known sailing

destination. At the end of registration 157 boats with their skippers and crews had signed

up! Needless to say the registration committee was swamped. We had expected maybe 35 or

40 boats. At this time virtually all of the sailing in the area was in dinghies. We had a large

handicap fleet, and large fleets of Rhodes Bantams and Sweet 16s (from K.C.), which had

shown up to race. There were two or three "cruising" boats in the regatta. As I remember

there was a 22 and also one 23 foot cruiser (one was sailed by Lee Orth from Branson) and

those were all of the "big boats" in the regatta. We dinghy sailors referred to the cruisers

as members of the "camper class."

The regatta was held in the Little Sac arm across from the current State Park Marina. The

wind had been building all morning. The RC boat was having trouble staying on station. They

kept letting anchor line but to no avail. They ended up staying on station by running their

motor to stay in place and to keep the anchor from dragging. It was so windy that sailors had

a hard time getting their boats rigged and then had a rough beat out of the cove to the race

course.

Mary and I were sailing a Geary 18 dinghy in the handicap fleet. When the blue flag went up

we were planing up and down the starting line--not that we had planned on doing this--but the

wind seemed like it was blowing 40 mph and was probably close to 30. Not only was the

velocity high the wind was also swirling around unpredictably. When our gun went off (we

could barely hear it over the wind) we headed for the weather mark on a flat out plane. he

Geary 18 has a trapeze and Mary was out on the wire getting covered by rolling waves as they

came down the arm of the lake. I remember her yelling at me over the wind "can't you slow

this #$@ thing down!" We rounded the weather mark and headed for the jibing mark. The

jibing mark looked like a graveyard of boats. There were many boats completely turtled,

broken spars, cushions, life jackets, paddles, bailers, etc. floating everywhere. Somehow we

made it around the mark upright (I really thought the boom was going to carry away the

rigging it came around so hard) and beat back to the finish line. Just as we got to the line

(we were about 10 yards away) the race was abandoned and the Race Committee pontoon boat

was pressed into rescue boat service. Waves were washing over the boat to the extent that

the race committee members were up to their knees in water while standing on the platform

of the pontoon boat. Of the 157 boats out on the race course 100 were capsized. Others

had headed for coves, pulled their boats on the beach, and some refused to budge off the

shoreline until the wind subsided. The rescue boats were overwhelmed. We were extremely

lucky that no one was seriously injured (there were a number of minor injuries) and that no

one drowned.

The next day the wind continued to howl. The RC conferred with the survivors of the day

before and it was decided that it was too risky to try another race. Jim Beddow of Wichita,

a long time CSSA sailor, said that it was the first time in his memory that the CSSA was not

able to complete a single race in a regatta and he agreed that the wind was just too high to

try a second race.

Several images of that day still remain with me--Jack Blizzard, sitting in his Thistle with

water up to the gunnels, bailing like crazy. And then there was Ted Brezius, a retired

commercial airline pilot, Laser sailor, and a wonderful gentleman. Ted had retired from the

race to help pull sailors out of the water who couldn't get their boats righted. One young

bikini clad woman lost here top as she was pulled into the rescue boat. Ted gallantly averted

his eyes and gave here a life jacket to cover up with as he helped her to safety. Ted took a

lot of ribbing about this from his fellow Laser sailors for many months after the regatta.

A few of the dinghy sailors at the first Governor's Cup were new to racing and fairly new to

sailing. But a number of the sailors were old hands from Grand Lake, Carlyle Lake, and Lake

Cheney near Wichita. It can blow really hard on those lakes so the sailors from there were

used to wind. But they were not used to the oscillations of the wind or the gusts that we

were getting that day. Needless to say Stockton Lake got a fierce reputation after the first

Governor's Cup. Some sailors left saying never again. Others considered the lake a real

challenge and wanted to return to see if they could survive a second time around.

The Division of State Parks hosted a magnificent meal and entertainment following the event

and set a standard that has been hard to meet ever since.

After the first Governor's Cup Regatta the Division of State Parks asked the QCSC if it

would be interested in putting a sailing facility in the cove at State Park. The QCSC's

membership believed that there would never be enough interest to justify the expense of

such a facility. (Actually they were right in regard to Springfield sailors but they forgot

about the Kansas City area, which has contributed so many good sailors to Lake Stockton.)

Marvin Yarnell built a marina on the main arm of the lake in the State Park. It was located

just west of Highway 215 across from the present state park marina. His dock was

destroyed by a tornado and he rebuilt on the Little Sac arm at the current location in the

State Park.

In 1975 the Governor's Cup was finally awarded. The winner was Merle Canfield, a

Windsurfer sailor from Newton, Kansas. The Cup was presented by Lt. Gov. William C. Phelps.

Other winners included: "Flying Junior" class--Gary Wheatly, Overland Park, KS; "Demon"

class--Larry McCracken, Liberty, Mo.; "Laser" class--Jim Pierce, Wichita, KS; "Sweet

Sixteen" class--Walt Hodge, Roland Park, KS; "Small Boat Handicap" class--Merle Canfield,

Newton, KS; "Butterfly" class--Todd Pasek, Greenwood, MO; "Cruising Catamaran" class--

Mike Alferd, Norman, OK; and "Rhodes Bantam" class--Robert Lytle, St. Louis. The regatta

attracted 61 boats from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. A complimentary fish fry

was held after Saturday's races, with music provided by the Chet Taylor band of Pittsburg,

MO and the Charles Faly band of Bolivar.

The Governor's Cup has been held nearly every year since the initial blowout. The sailing club

was not able to continue with joint sponsorship with the State Parks Division because of a

new requirement by the Division of Parks that liability insurance be provided by those running

the race. Since the cost would have been about $2,000, and not affordable by the club,

subsequent regattas have been held out of Cedar Ridge (one or two times) and then Orleans

Trail.

Denny Pilant

Тогда Аугсбург был уютным местечком, лежавшим на оживленном "ЕГЭ Английский язык Универс. справочник" торговом пути.

Из уцелевших две "Зимний пейзаж с покойником" трети одеты во что-то вроде мундиров многие из них наши люди, сбившиеся с пути "Воспитание вашей собаки" истинного.

Палестинец напрягся, мышцы груди и живота вздулись, готовясь "Лягушка-путешественница" послать еще один заряд.

Вдыхая его, он почувствовал волну наслаждения, разливающуюся по телу.

А я считаю, "Джейн Эйр. Учитель Эшворт" что он пошлет за ней!

Можешь теперь бросить ее "Ванга Как привлечь к себе деньги" мне, крикнула Джэнси, повышая голос, чтобы Калла услышал ее сквозь грохот геологического катаклизма.