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TLSC Beginnings - 1977

“If it hasn’t got a motor, I’m not interested”
John Springer, 1977
 
One steamy summer morning in 1977 the transformer blew at Oak Industries in Crystal Lake. John Springer and his dedicated fellow researchers were suddenly faced with the prospect of a whole day without the challenges of scientific inquiry. Ralph Harney lived in Wonder Lake, and being a sailor, the solution seemed obvious. "Let’s go over to my place and we’ll go sailing". John’s answer was, to him at least, just as obvious: "Nah, if it hasn’t got a motor, I’m not interested".  

As John tells it, it was a transformation. For weeks he had been nagged with a problem in the lab that stubbornly refused a solution; he’d been taking it to bed at night and getting up with it in the morning. Out on the peaceful water the realization came to him that he hadn’t even thought about the lab for over an hour! We don’t know if he came ashore with his problem solved, but we can say the seed of the Twin Lakes Sailing Club was sown in John Springer’s fertile mind that afternoon.

Things began to take shape
very rapidly after that. Olde Fitzgerald’s Resort, where John had been known to pause for refreshment, happened to be a dealer for Force 5 sailboats. The day after his conversion he owned one. A short time later Jim Hanert, a colleague at Fitzgerald’s, also owned one. Tom Fitzgerald had a Minifish, Missy Fitzgerald had a Sunfish, and Fraser Scholes, who had sailed as a college student in the original Twin Lakes Yacht Club, owned a beautiful, black-hulled and varnished wood Celebrity, arguably the most elegant boat ever to sail Lake Elizabeth. Inevitably, the discussions centered on sailboat racing. John Springer’s love of competition and organization combined with the technical and historical affirmation needed from Fraser, Tom, Jack and Missy Fitzgerald, and organizational and logistical help from Ralph Harney and the Wonder Lake Yacht Club. Bylaws were drawn up, and with a nucleus of 6 sailors some informal races were sailed, mainly on Wednesday afternoons; we have no records of these events.
Meantime, and throughout the following winter and spring, Springer worked with his special brand of energy and determination to spread the word. He garnered sailors from all the nooks and inlets of Lake Elizabeth and its environs, and with them a rare collection of sailing designs, from Frank Murphy’s M-16, the first scow in the club, to Dan Dana’s Sunbird, complete with cuddy cabin. By mid season of 1978 there was a Sunfish fleet of four and a mixed fleet of six; races were sailed in two series. The Twin Lakes Sailing Club was launched and under full sail.