Maxinkuckee Yacht Club


Social sailing began on Lake Maxinkuckee in the summer of 1896. The first prizes (three pennants) were offered for a race five years later in 1901 by the Maxinkuckee Association. This race apparently awakened the yachting enthusiasm of all who had sailboats. In August, of that same summer - 1901 - a number of lake sailors met at Edwards Boathouse and organized the Aubbeenaubee Yacht Club. Henry C. Adams, Sr. was elected Commodore.

An entrance fee of fifty cents was assessed each boat and the proceeds were used to purchase pennants. One race was held by the club that summer. In this race, Elbert Shirk won the pennant for the sloops and Harry Wheeler won for the catboats. In 1903, the yachts were divided into four classes: flat-bottomed sloops, flat-bottomed catboats, round-bottomed sloops, and round-bottomed catboats. Five races were sailed. In 1904, seven races were sailed.

Competitive sailing continued and flourished together with The Aubbeenaubee Yacht Club for ten more years until the beginning of World War I. Following the war, and for several years thereafter there was only occasional sailing, and enthusiasm for The Aubbeenaubee Yacht Club diminished. Near the end of the 1920's a new generation was growing restless and it became apparent they wanted a revitalized yacht club. Early in the summer of 1931 a group of young sailors met on Charles Barnaby's porch and reorganized the club, naming it The Maxinkuckee Yacht Club. (Seventeen years later, in 1948, Charles Barnaby III became the first Junior Fleet season winner.) Walker W. Winslow was elected Commodore and the club joined the Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA). Only three boats raced that summer: Tommy Hendricks (Class B), Walker Winslow (Class E), and William C. Griffith, Sr. (Class C). Thirty-two club members were present at the First Annual Banquet held at the Maxinkuckee Inn. The following summer, 1932, the club boasted thirty-one boats in two classes only, E's and C's. David Cooper won for the season in a C-Scow that cost $175.00.

During the winter of 1933 Culver Military Academy promoted ice boating, enjoyed by many members of the yacht club. In 1935 a large contingency from the E Fleet attended the Annual ILYA Regatta at Lake Winnebago and the club hosted an Invitational E Regatta that same summer. But World War II was not far away; and, when it came, it brought many hardships. Our sailors went off to war, the Academy lost all of its sailing fleet in a fire, and gas rationing was in effect, and transportation to and from the lake became difficult. Sailboat racing simply stopped.

After the war competitive sailing resumed. Particular attention was given to the younger sailors, and in 1948 John Brandon organized the club's first Junior Fleet. It survived only that summer, however, and not until 1953, five years later, did Oscar Perine establish it permanently. During these formative years the Junior Fleet was managed and led most notably by Robert E. Hollowell, Jr., from 1955-1960, and by Rupert Esser, from 1965-1973. Later Steve Speer was involved with the Junior Fleet for six years-assistant to Bruce Holaday from 1975-1977 and director from 1978 to 1980. Brother Scott Speer, together with Joe Schaub IV, carried on the tradition (1980-1988). Merritt and John Becker followed in their footsteps from 1989-1994. Dan and Andy Schuller carried the torch for 2 more years (1995-1996). In 1997-1998, Jenny Levett guided our youths. From 1998-1999, Adam and Debbie Probst took the helm. Junior Fleet was in the hands of Lynn Del Duco from 2000-2001, followed by Suzie Jamieson and Debbie Roberts at the helm (2002-2005).

In the late 1940's and through much of the 1950's, Oscar Perine's large, beautiful Chris-Craft Cabin Cruiser was an institution on the lake and most visible every Sunday afternoon as the Race Committee Boat. It was not until 1957 that the Club purchased racing markers that were located on the lake and numbered on a map bound into the yearbook. During much of this period - from 1956 to 1962 - Don Speer served as Chief Judge and, as such, not only devoted every Sunday to managing sailboat races, but he introduced and developed many of the racing procedures followed today. E. Allen Becker has manned the Judges Boat quite skillfully for many years now (1963-1997). He can usually be seen every Saturday and Sunday with, Kitty Schaub, Judy Becker, Mike Rocap, Jan and Rick Strait, and countless others. Allen and his wife, Judy, have also been judging many Regattas in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, & New York.

By 1959 the club's E Fleet numbered only five boats - all owned by the Academy - and after the summer of 1960, they did not race again.

In 1961 the Annual Picnic left the Bradley lawn, where it had been held for as long as anyone could remember, and relocated on the Maxinkuckee Country Club golf course. The C Fleet had grown to 25 boats by 1963 and to 29 two years later when, in 1965 a boat registration fee was instituted. In 1967 The Maxinkuckee Yacht Club elected Joyce Hollowell Speer as the first woman commodore. That same year Margaret Washburn became the club's Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, a spot she held for over 20 years, giving invaluable continuity to the club as well as aid, advice, and guidance to commodores and members alike. Her address, 446 School Street, became familiar not only to MYC members, but to sailors all over the Midwest. Following in Margaret's steps was MYC member Jim Moss who filled the position of secretary/treasurer for over ten years. In 1998 Ann Gilmore was elected secretary and Dale Gilmore took over the treasurer's books in 2002.

Beginning in 1970 more and more local sailors began competing in regattas off the lake. This not only improved the level of sailing competition on Lake Maxinkuckee but also introduced many changes in race management. Allen Becker, ably assisted by Charlie Roth, ushered in most of these changes. Not until the summer of 1983 were the permanent racing markers abandoned for newly purchased bright, shocking pink balloons which allowed for more accurate course settings and permitted course changes during a race. This same year the club purchased a Boston Whaler to be used as a chase and rescue boat. A violent storm during a race early that summer capsized nearly the entire C Fleet. The Boston Whaler was put to good use, perhaps saving the lives of Jim Costin and Don Muehlhausen who had been swept away from their boats.

By the time the 1973 sailing season ended, Cutter Washburn had become the first skipper to sweep the season by winning both the Saturday and Sunday Series. Bruce Holaday would do it next in 1977 and Steve Speer in 1978. In 1981, two years after the Saturday races had been split into two separate series to encourage more competition, Joe Schaub IV would win them both - as well as the Sunday series - and do it all again in 1982. It doesn't end there as Joe has swept the season 5 times since 1982. He has done so in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1990 and 1997.

For well over 50 years, C and E Scows had dominated sailboat racing on Lake Maxinkuckee. But early in June in the summer of 1977, a group of young sailors met on Fred Wurster's porch in culmination of almost two years of planning and there formed Hobie Fleet 216, introducing a new racing class to the lake. Fred Wurster was elected the first Fleet Captain and under his leadership and that of other enthusiastic Hobie sailors like Donal Ben Miller, Denny Barrett, Duke Niswander, Rick Strait, and Jack Keldenich, the fleet flourished. The Hobie Fleet was active in the Maxinkuckee Yacht Club for 19 years but in 1996 this fleet was put into mothballs. However, a new fleet was born. MYC welcomed the MC Scows as a fleet in 1996 with much help, again, from Fred Wurster. MYC currently has 10 MC's registered and it looks as though there will be more. Steve Schaub was the first MC Skipper to sweep the Saturday and Sunday Series.

The Annual Memorial Day Invitational Regatta, instituted in 1973, was changed to a post-Labor Day event in 1978, becoming the Annual Fall Invitational Regatta. Through the years this invitational brought out the very best of the membership; cooks, judges, registrars, trash collectors, radio technicians, scorekeepers, beer bearers, bartenders, T-shirt vendors, ticket takers, fork-lift drivers, and traffic directors. Accordingly, the Yacht Club accepted an invitation from the newly formed National C Scow Sailing Association (NCSSA) to host its championship Regatta in September of 1982. This was a five-day marathon event that tested every conceivable organizational skill of the club - and found none wanting. More shells were used in those five days for countless recalls than were used by the fleet for the entire summer, but the MYC Judges and Race Committee members never missed a flag or gun, a truly incredible performance! Joe Schaub IV finished seventh in this national event. Two years later the club hosted the 1983 ILYA Eastern Regional, in which Joe Schaub IV and Steve Speer finished third and seventh respectively.

The Maxinkuckee Yacht Club hosted the Championship Regatta of NCSSA more times than any other yacht club - 1982, 1988, 1992, and 1996. In 1996, it was co-chaired by Dixie Becker and Mary Anna Swennumson. The scores of dedicated MYC volunteers was by all accounts "the biggest and best ever". The natural beauty of Lake Maxinkuckee and the willingness of MYC members to open their cottages to sailors from all over the country was truly a monumental effort. MYC was host, again, to this glorious event in the year 2000. In addition to this Regatta, Maxinkuckee Yacht Club has hosted the ILYA Regatta in 1983 and 1989 and has hosted our own Fall Regatta (the weekend after Labor Day) since 1973.

By the mid-1980's, the Maxinkuckee Yacht Club counted nationally ranked sailors among its membership, computerized scoring supplied by past Commodore, Jim Russell, 450 individual members, and combined fleets numbering 62 registered sailing crafts. The enthusiasm for organized, competitive sailing is still around.

The year of 1997 brought about a few financial changes - the first being an increase in dues. Adult memberships were raised from $35.00 to $45.00. Family memberships went from $85.00 to $115.00. And Senior Fleet boat registration was raised to $50.00 from $35.00. Also, Dick Swennumson - Commodore '97 - spearheaded the campaign to obtain the status of "tax-exempt".

During 1997, another change was made. The Commodore's Party that was held at the beginning of the new season was moved to the end of the season. The club held their annual meeting along with Sailor Award Ceremonies during the August MYC Party. It was a beautiful evening of music and laughter. Many social members were able to see the number of trophies, cups, and plaques that are presented to all ages. The Junior Fleet members truly enjoyed being recognized in front of all of MYC. All 350+ members!

The summer of 1998 did not see any new changes. The sailing season moved along smoothly and fun was had by all. The MC Fleet experienced another year of success on the water. They remain 10 members strong. Jim Russell and his family had an incredibly successful year of sailing in the C and MC fleet. Roger Hartzell, Susie Hartzell, and Chris Chandler are all Russell family members. Great job!! The Annual Meeting and Trophy Ceremony were held again this year during the August Cocktail Party. It was held at the home of our Commodore, Jim Bartlett.

MYC lost a loyal volunteer with the death of James Rodney Todd in the spring of 1999. In his honor a new award for volunteerism was established - the James Rodney Todd Memorial Trophy. The first winner of the award was Gene Benedict who has given many hours teaching the junior sailors. In the Fall, Commodore Albert Wurster gathered a steering committee who began planning for MYC to host the National C-Scow Regatta. This event was hosted by MYC in 1996 and was a huge success and a ton of fun. Father's Day weekend should see four days of exciting sailing on Lake Maxinkuckee.

In February of 2000, Culver and the Maxinkuckee Yacht Club lost a long standing member when Margaret Washburn passed away. Those of you who have had your lives touched by Margaret know what a loss this is for many, many people. Margaret served as this clubs secretary and treasurer for 17 wonderful years. According to some members, she was the yacht club. With her passing, too has another decade of sailing on Lake Maxinkuckee ended.

The new millennium was kicked off with a big splash by hosting the 2000 National "C" Scow Regatta. Lake Maxinkuckee and MYC played host to 67 boats from around the country. The regatta was a huge success and a good time was had by all. Commodore Albert Wurster did a wonderful job of organizing this event. Junior Fleet had another tremendous year. A number of eager, competitive and willing to learn junior sailors gathered every Saturday morning at the Campbell property. Lynn Del Duco and John Ducker along with many other volunteers and parents did an outstanding job. Overall, Y2K was smooth sailing for MYC.

The year 2001 will go down in MYC's history as the "summer with no wind!" There was not a single race sailed on any of the five Sundays in July; conditions just were not right. Many trophies were not awarded. Despite the disappointing wind situation, the junior fleet grew to large numbers as 31 youngsters learned to sail so that the tradition of MYC could continue. A very touching scene occurred at the annual Senior Awards Party when Commodore John Becker presented the Rodney Todd Memorial Trophy to his father, Past Commodore, E. Allen Becker. That same evening John passed the Commodore's title on to Steve Schaub.

2002 marked the inaugural year for the Ladies' Sailing School, which was Gene Benedict's brainstorm. Along with his fellow instructors, Gene met every Sunday morning with ladies who were interested in learning to sail and some of whom may want to eventually form their own fleet. The group grew from an initial 5 participants to an average of 12 ladies by summer's end. The classes were very relaxed and informal: the focus was on enjoyment, meeting new people with similar interests, and learning to handle sailboats. Then, like Junior Fleet, the group eventually had its own class races. The program is definitely off the ground! Sailboats (Sunfishes) are provided, so anyone who would like to give sailing a try is encouraged to attend, whether or not they are experienced and whether or not they can attend on a regular basis. The emphasis is on fun!

The summer of 2003 didn't provide many windy weekends. About 50 MC and C-Scow sailors from all parts of the country came to Culver for the annual Fall Regatta and not a single race took place. The first Sunfish Regatta, chaired by John Zeglis and open to everyone on the lake, was held the last Saturday of July and was enjoyed by about 30 entrants. The races were followed by a picnic on the Zeglis lawn. The ladies fleet and the junior fleet continued their weekend classes and the MC fleet grew to 12 boats with Bruce Holaday picking up many of the class trophies. Lake Maxinkuckee was chosen as the site of the 2004 MC Nationals in August of that year and co-chairwomen Dixie Becker and Mary Anna Swennumson went into action rounding up volunteers and making plans.

August, 2004 - Anyone checking the MYC web site knew immediately that the MC Scow Nationals were a great success. Over 90 boats were on Lake Maxinkuckee and it was a beautiful sight! Dixie Becker and Mary Anna Swennumson had planned a fun time and indeed it was. The weather could have been better but Sunday dawned sunny and breezy and three races got underway. The same could not be said for the weather the weekend of the annual Fall Regatta. For the second year in a row, not a single race took place. All three of our local fleets - senior, junior and ladies - had a good year with the junior fleet growing by leaps and bounds. The Sunfish Regatta was well attended and appeared to be on the road to becoming an annual event. The sport of sailing is indeed popular on Culver's lake.

2005: The Regatta Committee voted to make some financial changes in 2005 and dues were raised minimally for the first time since 1997. Adult memberships were increased by $5.00 so that adults were paying $50.00 annually and family memberships became $125.00. After two years of no wind for the Fall Regatta, a successful weekend saw races on both Saturday and Sunday with the traditional Chili/Cheeseburger party Saturday evening. The junior fleet continued to grow and two Optimists and a Sunfish were added to the inventory used by the youngsters. Plans are in the making to organize a Sunfish fleet to compete in weekend races.

2006: The MC fleet struggled in the summer of 2006 as only a few of the sailors turned out to race on weekends. The junior fleet was again a popular program as 28 youngsters appeared on the roster. Twenty-one volunteers faithfully coached them assuring a future of sailing on Lake Maxinkuckee. Sunfish sailors began to organize and raced on Sundays. The social events were well attended and the July gala featured a display of classic automobile. The colorful Sunfish Regatta was again held in July with the John Zeglis property as headquarters. In 2006 three new trophies were awarded including one in honor of Kitty Schaub. Little did we know that MYC would lose this very important member that December. Kitty was a past commodore and racing PRO who spent many hours on the committee boat judging races. Her family has been a dynamic force in our racing program through the years.

2007: Following a busy sailing and social season in 2007, Commodore Merritt Becker presented several special awards at the Senior Fleet's award party over the Labor Day weekend. Allen Becker's name was added to the list of MYC members who have been honored with the title of Commodore Emeritus in recognition of his years of service to MYC including many racing seasons as Principal Race Officer. Jim Moss became the first MYC Honorary Commodore. Jim served MYC in many capacities and was Secretary/Treasurer in the 1980s and 1990s. A lifetime membership was presented to Jack Campbell in recognition of his many years of support to MYC.

2008: The summer of 2008 was a great time for sailing. The MC fleet struggled but the young Sunfish fleet came out every Sunday as did the fleet from the Academy. MYC's Fall Regatta was a success with 25-plus boats and the winds were right for two days of races. Dale and Ann Gilmore retired after more than a decade as treasurer and secretary of MYC. Francis and Susan Ellert were elected to replace them at the annual Senior Awards party that traditionally ends MYC activities for the year.

2009: This summer was one of the cooler ones for several years but much better than average for sailing as there weren't too many no wind days and in fact there was one too much wind day. The MC fleet had a nice increase in participation. The Junior and Ladies Fleets both had excellent seasons. John and Carol Zeglis again hosted the popular Sunfish Regatta. A nice turnout of sailors for the Fall Regatta unfortunately had a zero race experience because of a dead calm weekend. MYC cocktail parties were great and as elegant as ever. The Fourth of July Picnic was washed out for the first time in memory

2010: "Plenty of wind" is an apt description for the summer of 2010, especially for the start of the sailing season with the Memorial Day Series. The Commodore's party was unforgettable for the fact that a huge storm blew in within fifteen minutes of the start and forced all who attended to cram into Allen and Judy Becker's home. Needless to say, a great time was had by all! The rest of the summer's activities went off as planned including the beautiful evening for the Fourth of July picnic and two fun cocktail parties, one of which was a creative "Viva Maxinkuckee" theme. Both Ladies' Fleet and Junior Fleet enjoyed good participation and great sailing. This summer also marked Suzie Jamieson's retirement as coordinator of Junior Fleet after many years (8) of dedicated service. Both senior fleets experienced excellent seasons as well. John and Carol Zeglis hosted the annual Sunfish Regatta, which again proved to be a very popular event. The Fall Regatta saw two extremes in terms of weather, rainy and sunny, but nonetheless was a success. On a memorable note, this summer was the beginning for the use of an automatic starting system for our races, which proved to be of great benefit to our race committee.

2011: 2011 was a summer filled with exciting social events, inconsistent winds, a National C-Scow Regatta and several heart breaking departures from the club. The commodore’s party started our social calendar with an extended indoor party at the Damore’s Barn (meant to shelter us from the previous year’s storm, but ended up sheltering us from the cold evening). The rain instead showed up at the annual picnic that became an indoor party thanks to a gracious host, the MCC. We enjoyed a warm July Cocktail party hosted by the Bremners. The storm showed up again at the Keedy’s cottage for another indoor party in August. Our regattas included the National C-Scow regatta and the fall regatta held on the grounds of Culver Academy, who accommodated us even though construction had started in the launch area. Temperatures were average with a need for more wind. Our heart breaking departures included the loss of our honorary commodore Jim Moss, our dedicated buoy boat/committee boat driver and RC/PRO/EMT Doug Ratcliff, and our MC Captain’s father, Hal Smitson. Junior Fleet continues to thrive under the leadership of Courtney Carstens and Jim Grant. Ladies Fleet continues to grow under the guidance of Gene Benedict, Sr.

2012:  Great sailing and some new faces on the race course, including very reliable and involved committee boat driver (Greg), started what ended as a fantastic year.  Some highlights include a very well attended commodore’s party on the west shore where the Grants, the Masons, and the Storys joined forces to create an event utilizing several hundred feet of lake frontage.  It was a delightful night and the rain held off despite an early scare.  Likewise the annual picnic attracted large crowds and after a condensed program from the prior year, Gene Benedict II got the games started to complete a fun evening.  The Sunfish Regatta was held at the Culver Beach Lodge for the first time and Gene Benedict II (though only Courtney, his wife, was witnessed onsite working herself to death) organized a flawless event.  The fall regatta went through a building year and our turnout was low.  But with great weather and wind, the races were fantastic.  Hopefully the word will get out that Maxinkuckee does have wind.  In any event, the after party (the famous Chili Cheeseburger party) at Ed and Becky Furry’s complex is always a big hit.  Junior Fleet with the Benedicts and Jim Grant was well attended and the program got some new equipment.  Ladies fleet has grown even more which attracted some new male volunteers (including the commodore).  Gene Benedict Sr. does a brilliant job teaching.  Many of the “old guard” continue to keep the club going in much needed roles (treasurer, webmaster, social, etc…) Successful cocktail parties and the annual awards banquet concluded the season.  A perfect year were it not for some losses.  Both Mimi Story and Allen Becker departed this world and our beautiful lake.  Allen was honored with a special award at the awards banquet for his exemplary service to the club.  His children accepted the award, in his very rare absence from the MYC function, due to his failing health.

2013: What a season on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee! In order to reflect on my year as your Commodore I would like to provide a brief recap of the fabulous summer of 2013. Our social events were a success. I would like to extend a special thank you to Ed and Becky Furry for helping me with a venue for the Commodore’s Cocktail Party. All of our Scows, Sunfish and Optis sailed well in 2013. There was fantastic competition throughout that was best exemplified by the C class. The C-Scow Sunday Champion Series held one of the closest finishes in recent memory with T-96 Steve Schaub besting T-3 Gene Benedict Jr. by .1 points over an entire season. In the MYC tradition of great sportsmanship (and brotherly love) the two competitors and lifelong friends teamed up to race together in the Washburn Match Race. Congratulations to Steve Schaub for winning the Sunday Series and the 2013 Washburn Match Race. In the MC Fleet there were consistent winners from Jim and Matt Grant (and family)! Bill Becker and Jeff Costin definitely showed their skills on the water as well. The Ladies Sailing Fleet is bigger, faster, stronger and most importantly, having more fun than ever. With dedication to learning this awesome sport, great friends, dedicated leaders and maybe a Bellini or two, women at MYC are making their mark. They all deserve much kudos! It should also be noted that this year showed the MYC Ladies Fleet as the highest attending group on the water out of any other fleet! As husband to the Jr. Fleet Director, my wife Courtney, I can happily say that our juniors have been receiving great experience, learnings, and the general love of the water that we all share about our lake. It’s been a privilege to work with all of the MYC children. I’ll look forward to seeing them on the starting line soon. As I exit my post as Commodore, I look back on the three years I committed to MYC with pride. I believe we are a strong club. The source of our strength coming from our membership. I owe many thanks to countless volunteers who helped me throughout my Commodoreship. But, one person stands out above the rest. I would like to thank my lovely wife, Courtney, for the countless hours she spent helping me run the club. She was absolutely invaluable to me and the club over the past few years. Here is to a great 2014!!! Happy Sailing…. Gene Benedict Jr.  

2014: Based upon over one hundred years of history, 2014 once again proved to be another successful year of organized sailing on Lake Maxinkuckee.   For both on and off water fun, a Maxinkuckee Yacht Club membership was the best value in town!

After losing our PRO and Committee Boat captain, Greg Pozorski, at far too young an age, the club found itself in need of new on water leadership.  We were fortunate in having club member, Mike Hudson, step up and take command of the committee boat.  While new to the sailboat racing world, Mike was a quick study.  With the assistance of the fleet’s skippers, Mike soon had the racing program under control.  Gene Benedict Sr. admirably agreed to be our PRO in case of any serious complications or protests. Was he ever put to the test?  In order to promote increased participation and the opportunity to spread awards throughout the fleet, the sailing schedule was revamped to revolve around several series as well as to make each weekend a mini regatta.  The Junior Fleet continued to sail along on its merry way though it may be looking for a new harbor in the future.  The Campbell and Thews families have been gracious hosts of the program for many years.

As always, the MYC was at the forefront of the community social scene.  Compliments of a cadre of past Commodores, the June Commodore’s Cocktail Party was a great success.  July’s tailgate themed party was a homerun; kudos to Susan Becker and her fabulous committee!  August found us at the Maxinkuckee Country Club co-hosting a party with our golfing neighbors.  Owing to overwhelming support from the membership of both groups, we are hopeful that this joint venture will become an annual event.  The Annual MYC/MCC family picnic as well as the Fall Regatta, including the infamous Chili-Cheeseburger Party, were both well attended.  The season was capped off with the annual Awards Banquet at the Maxinkuckee Country Club.  We broke the pulled pork tradition and went with a wonderful fajita bar! 

As has been the case for over a century, this wonderful summer of events could not have occurred without the hard work of innumerable volunteers.  Thank you to all for your assistance, support and encouragement!

© Maxinkuckee Yacht Club, Culver Indiana
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software