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December 10, 2008 > History: Fremont Sailing Club

History: Fremont Sailing Club

Submitted By Doug Hamilton
Photos By courtesy of Doug Hamilton

Charles Coffey and his wife Edith were members of the San Jose Sailing Club. They lived in Fremont, but in the summer of 1968 there was no lake in Fremont and local sailors were involved with Lake Merritt or San Jose sailing clubs. Charles began to pursue his idea of forming a Fremont Sailing Club. He corralled Doug Hamilton and a core of Fremont people to join his effort. Local merchants were persuaded to post displays about the club and Coffey wrote a series of articles for the News Register on the creation of Central Park - renamed Lake Elizabeth in November 1968. Formation of the club was completely due to the dedication and perseverance of Charles Coffey.

Charles coordinated his efforts with city personnel and received a copy of the first phase of the Central Park Master Plan in July 1968. The first meeting of the proposed club was held in the Community Center on September 4, 1968 with 65 people in attendance. They selected a club name, elected and requested the new board to draft proposed bylaws. Charles Coffey was elected commodore, Jan Gayner secretary, Jack Foster treasurer, Gene Arriga port captain and Doug Hamilton, Rip Osterhuber and Ray Rosa directors. Tom Blalock, Assistant City Engineer, the speaker for the evening, announced that lake dredging was under way.

The Fremont Sailing Club has a proud history of partnership with the City. Members persuaded the designers to plan a large circular body rather than a series of canals. They encouraged a dock design to make it safer, more usable and to orient docks in relation to the wind. The city bought materials and club members put the docks together and floated them. Cub members performed all on-the-water safety in the first six months of operation - until it was organized by the city. They provided the first aquatic weed control when the lake was new and clear; they jumped in and pulled out the weeds. Markers in the lake have been furnished, maintained and replaced by the Club. The City was so proud of the sailing club when it was formed that a sailboat was featured on its first logo.

Boats are an important part of life in a sailing club, but the first 25 members had no boats. Nine had El Toros, four had Lidos and one each a Blue Dolphin, an Okay Dinghy, a Super Satellite, a Star Craft, a Boston Whaler and two homemade boats. Attendance swelled to 113 people at the second meeting. Fremont Sailing Club became the official name and by November, there were 101 member families. The club won some races at their outing at the Lake Vasona Invitational and "Windjammer" was voted the name of the newsletter. Charles wrote on November 21, 1968, "So far, the only thing to make the organization active - is a lake."

The City of Fremont invited the Fremont Sailing Club to take part in Civic Center dedication activities by holding their first race at Lake Elizabeth March 22, 1969. The club agreed and members prepared for the race. It rained the night before and there was only a two-wheeled muddy trail from the street to the lake. Doug Hamilton got the City to flatten out the high center between the tracks so club members could get to the paved launch ramp. Tie-ups were just two-by twelves and sticks. A boat and a life vest were the only requirements to enter the race. Lidos, El Toros, a Loa 17 and handicaps competed.

The club continues to have a close relationship with the City, supporting the Parks and Recreation Department by maintaining the City rental fleet and providing instructors for annual sailing classes. The Club has a proud history.

Fremont Sailing Club celebrated its 40th year of activities as a club in September 2008. Individual fleets within the club; Lido-14s, FJs, El Toros and the Open Fleet enjoy a full schedule of social activities, races on the home lake (Lake Elizabeth), elsewhere and just fun cruises. The El Toros have had major regattas on the home lake and traveled widely in California and to Hawaii and Oregon for National Championship regattas. The Lido fleet has traveled to Oregon, the Sierras and elsewhere in California and hosted a National Championship regatta at Clear Lake and District Championships on the home lake. FJS has hosted major regattas at other venues in the area and traveled widely. It has produced several national and world champion sailors. The Fremont Sailing Club doesn't have any paid staff, just generous, interested and well-meaning people.

Doug Hamilton, FSC Historian
Fremont Sailing Club Board of Directors
Philip Holmes

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