by Keith Sheckler
In 1996, when Keith and Lisa Sheckler were getting ready to get married, a suggestion was made to have a bachelor party. Someone said, “Let’s have a Laser race!” So Betts Byrd and Lisa were race committee. Racers were Thor Seaborg, Scott Richardson, Steve Wright, Steve Dechart, Marc DeLaVergne, and Keith. Everyone had a great time and agreed that it had been way too long since we’d had organized racing. Thor suggested we form a club. Keith added that he, Marc DeLaVergne, and Dave Cox had started to make that effort in the late 80s, but lost momentum. They had started making up a set of bylaws, and had each put $25 down to start a bank account. That bank account still existed and is now our current account!
So, during the winter of 96-97, we held our first organizational meeting at The Pend’ Oreille Brewery and set about planning the summer’s activities. The proposal was made to name the club “The Bum Jungle Yacht Club”, but since “Sandpoint Sailing Association” was on the existing checking account and the beginnings of bylaws, “Sandpoint Sailing Association” won out. Terry Jensen suggested, and everyone agreed that number 1 priority should be FUN! Officers elected were: Thor Seaborg. Commodore; Scott Richardson, Vice Commodore; Keith Sheckler, Rear Commodore; Terry Jensen, Secretary-Treasurer; Sara Seaborg and Marc DeLaVergne, Directors at large.
The newly formed club eagerly anticipated the approaching sailing season and race schedule, but there was a problem! Lots of water! The spring of 97 brought lake levels 3 feet above summer pool, which didn’t recede until almost July. Docks were in danger of floating off of their pilings. The jetty, where it turns the corner, was under water. Considering all that, the Lake was quite volatile. Any storm had the potential to be devastating to marinas, private docks, and shoreline. The sheriff’s office and the Corps of Engineers requested boats stay off of the Lake and closed launch ramps. To while away the non-sailing time, we set up a story pole to measure how high the water got. Someone suggested we start a pool guessing high water. So, everyone had a chance to mark the pole where they chose and pay their dollar. The Grand Prize Winner- MARC DELAVERGNE! When the water receded and things were back to normal. The Sheckler family wanted to put on a barbeque for their customers as a thank you for patience and cooperation during the flooding. Marc heard the news and joined in the spirit of the big event by donating his huge winnings to purchase refreshments! Combining the relief of the flood danger being over, the sailing season finally being underway, and the barbeque with good friends, it was a wonderful time! Everyone said this should be an annual event, hence the Spring Barbeque! Gina Woodruff took charge of adding the milk carton race to the Spring Barbeque to create something fun for the younger sailors, but soon found out—We’re all young!
Since FUN was a priority setting up the club, and the spring barbeque was a hit, aaaaand there lots of condiments left over, it was decided “Lets do it again in the fall”. Hence the fall barbeque! One year, as the fall barbeque was approaching a couple of trash talking sailors (Larry Falk and Dan Sheckler) felt a need for a grudge match. It was decided to settle the grudge in a one-design shootout. Then, others wanted in. Finally, someone suggested including everyone and doing it in Holders. Okay then, hold yer grudge until the fall barbeque! Racing the Holders in close proximity to the viewing area has become a highlight of the season! The beauty of one design!
The inaugural season of SSA provided, a couple of dinghy races, a couple of cat races, and a couple of keel races, in addition to the Thursday races. We had no money in the budget for trophies of any kind. In the first dinghy race, Thor and Sara Seaborg capsized. In getting their boat righted, Thor lost one of his prized green Converse All Stars. This was a disaster! The broken hearted guy took the remaining shoe and wrote the race winner’s name on it, before presenting it to the winner! In the interest of sharing the wealth, the shoe was passed on to each other race winner that summer with their name inscribed. Keep an eye out for the missing shoe; Thor would like to have it back!
In the early years of SSA, Marc DeLaVergne suggested we put a distance race on our schedule. It should start and end close to the beach area to minimize shuttling hassles. But where do we put the turn mark? Somewhere around Trestle Creek would make a good length. Looking the NOAA chart, there is a designation of a white rock. No one seemed to know anything about a white rock there, but what the heck! The White Rock Race is born! Marc has sponsored the race since its inception.
The world famous Spud Cup has roots in the early days of the LPOYC. There used to be a 2-day race on the weekend before Labor Day, called the Challenge Cup. It was patterned after the Chelen Regatta, which several Laser racers used to attend. There was a primary focus on one design, with handicap fleets also. The Chelan Regatta ran 2 Saturday races and 1 Sunday. We wanted more races on a shorter course. Boats that came from Bayview stayed the week and then raced the Labor Day Race from Sandpoint to Bayview. It was well attended for 4 or 5 years until racing died on the north end. After forming SSA, we felt the need to resurrect the Challenge Cup. In looking for an appropriate perpetual trophy, Ron Berg, who designed some of our earlier t-shirts, found (In his yard sale stuff) the now famous spud bowl. We had it mounted on a trophy base with room for lots of winner’s names. We now had a wonderful (spud) trophy, Peter Mico at Spuds Restaurant was providing food, and our regatta was rivaling Idaho’s other top export. It was fate! It had to be named Spud Cup! At the awards following the first Spud Cup, the trophy was sitting on the picnic table. Someone asked to get a picture of the winners. They were all sitting on one side of the table. When they stood, the table tipped, and our wonderful trophy was shattered! Over the following winter, Scott Richardson did an admirable job of gluing it back together. Winning the Spud Cup has become a major accomplishment. After the J24 Districts (In conjunction with Spud Cup), one of the top J24 sailors in the world, Keith Wittemore, was thrilled to have his name added to the cup!
Another race that had its start during the days of LPOYC on the north end is the night race. It was called The Windbag Winner Dinner! It started with dinner at the Floating Restaurant, save your dinner ticket. Race home and first place gets dinner reimbursed by The Windbag. The race proved too far of a distance, so dinner and the start was moved to the Boatworks, a restaurant near Fisherman’s Island that was only open 2 years. The race died with north end racing in the mid 80’s. But, now the race is back and better than ever! It starts with a raft-up at Fisherman’s Island, with a picnic, sampling other boats foods, swimming, water balloons, etc. Then, under a full moon, we race back to the Windbag. This was the favorite race of the late Helen Gloor, who had been very active in SSA since its inception. The race is now called The Helen Gloor Moonlight Race.