On the Line
Get ready for more great club races on beautiful Lake Mendota!
Week at a Glance
Checkout calendar events for the coming week.
Welcome to the Mendota Yacht Club! If you’re looking to become part of a club with a long history of terrific sailing, reasonable dues and a friendly social atmosphere, you’ve come to the right spot!
Founded in 1903, the Mendota Yacht Club is the oldest sailing club on Lake Mendota and Dane County. Lake Mendota is recognized as one of the best, if not the best, inland lake in the county for sailboat racing. As a member club of Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) we routinely host regattas for all scow classes. We’ve had our share of members who have achieved regional, national, and Olympic recognition whose sailing roots are anchored here.
Our fleets consist of one design scows and keelboats. We race on Wednesday and Friday evenings and Sunday mornings. If you’re an experienced skipper or crew, someone who just discovered the fun of sailboat racing, or someone who just wants to talk shop with sailors, you’ll find opportunities for developing your skills at MYC!
Our club is more than just racing; we host fun events and regular after race parties during the season at a variety of venues. Because our club is a volunteer run organization, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and meet other members. In fact, many of our members are also members of the Four Lakes Ice Yacht club and would be happy to introduce you to the fun of soft and hard water sailing!
Again, welcome to the MYC. Please explore the website and feel free to contact the membership chair if you have any questions.
Membership in Mendota Yacht Club is open to everyone interested in yachting, seamanship, and other kindred matters and related activities. We welcome both racing and non-racing sailors. Membership is open to all persons - regardless of race, religion, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender.
Our Mission Statement
The purpose of this association shall be to encourage and foster the sport of yachting among young and old ... to sometime, somewhere win an Inland Lakes Regatta, and to do all other things agreeable and necessary to carry out the purposes of this corporation.
Meet Your Board
Dave Gorwitz, MYC Commodore and Director (thru 2018)
I started sailing in college when I joined Hoofers in 1979. I later became a Hoofers instructor and started racing in MYC on Hoofers’ Santa Cruz 33, Maria. A couple of years later I purchased my first boat, a Santa Cruz 27, Cadenza. Our all-Hoofers-alumni crew on Cadenza won a bunch of MYC trophies, including a couple of season championships. I also did a fair amount of cruising as part of Hoofers’ flotillas, skippering many trips to the Florida Keys and San Diego. Several of us also chartered in the BVI, Greek Islands, Australia and New Zealand.
In the mid-1980’s, I purchased Tyrol Marine Sailboat House (now The Boathouse of Madison) and got into the sailboat business. I continued my racing and in 1993 we purchased one of the very first Melges 24’s. In addition to racing in MYC, I had the privilege of sailing with some really fine professionals in the M24 fleet over the next 10-15 years, including Keith Musto, Dave Ullman and Scott Allen. I also was regular crew on Jeff Russel and Donny Anderson’s A-scow, the Magic Bus.
I sold the Boathouse in around 2003 and set off on my current career as a business attorney. My off-Mendota racing these days is focused on match racing. Getting into match racing has really improved my game and has re-invigorated my love of the sport; if you want to get better, try match racing! Sailing with MYC member Dave Niemann, we have been steadily improving and last year were ranked by ISAF as high as No. 44 in in the world and No. 5 in the USA. For the second consecutive year, we have qualified for the US Match Race Championships (to be sailed this October in Swedish Match 40’s at Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY).
My MYC racing for the past five years or so has been as a crew member on Chuck Duroni and Dave Niemann’s J80, Eidolon. I couldn’t be luckier than to be part of their wonderful, talented and deep team! I am a past Commodore of MYC and this will be my second stint as a member of the MYC Board. For several years I’ve been MYC’s US Sailing PHRF liaison and am the currently the chair of the MYC protest committee.
Ron Curio, MYC Vice Commodore and Director (thru 2019)
I am an MC sailor.
Once I learned to sail as an undergrad at UW Hoofers in Techs and Interlake and received my Tech heavy air rating, I would spend hours sailing, a wonderful relief after meteorology classes like advance thermodynamic analysis. Learning to sail was the important skill I took away from UW. It has been a life long gift.
My first job after graduation was in Washington, D.C. I sailed little there save a few times on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers in a Day Sailor. In 1970 I transferred to Chicago where I joined American Youth Hostels which had a sailing program with boats moored at Monroe Harbor. There I got my first taste of racing in the clubs Rhodes 19's which have a 435 lb. keel, very suitable for Lake Michigan. I instructed on the Rhodes and a 35 foot cruiser which allowed me to sail WITHOUT CHARGE. I shudder when I remember moving through Monroe Harbor under sail teaching students to pick up mooring cans.
I met the blessing of my life, my then sailing student and future wife, Kathryn, at a preseason "dry land" class. After being turned down for dates the first couple of times because she was "working on her thesis", we got together on an AYH trip I lead to Door County. We married in Lake Geneva, WI, in 1974. We raced together at AYH. In 1975 I cashed out my federal retirement fund in order to purchase a Rhodes 19, Blue Smoke. At that time we joined and raced with Corinthian Yacht Club at Montrose Harbor. I would also occasionally race on a Lightning or Albacore. We left Corinthian as Fleet Champions in 1985 when we relocated to Madison. Let me tell you, Lake Michigan racing is a lot less challenging than inland lake racing.
Prior to moving I contacted MYC about what fleets raced. I was told there was an M-20 available and thought, "main, jib, spinnaker, same as the Rhodes." Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha ha. I agreed to purchase the M-20 before seeing it or knowing anything about scows. One of the first times Kathryn and I were racing the M-20, I tried to "power through" a puff. We capsized and turtled. As I was sitting on the hull waiting for Harvey, Kathryn was muttering "this is unsafe" and "I have to live for my children". Gabriel was three and Elise was not yet one. This ended our racing together but I enjoyed great racing at MYC until the M-20 fleet "sailed into the sunset".
At that time I purchased my first MC and raced at Pewaukee Yacht Club for twelve years. I also raced M-16 there and had a Sunfish and Laser at different times for sailing on Mendota. I returned to MYC in the spring of 2016 and rediscovered why Mendota is considered one of the best inland lakes for racing and what a warm, friendly club MYC is. The MC is a wonderful single handed boat with great competition and numerous regattas. I enjoy traveling to regattas and have raced the MC on 30+ lakes.
My other interests include cooking, baking, gardening, volunteering at The River Food Panty on Madison's north side, volunteering in various activities at Cathedral Parish on the Isthmus, yoga, and working out at Pinnacle Health and Fitness in Fitchburg.
Afan Ottenheimer, MYC Director (thru 2019)
I'm told I was sailing before I could walk, sleeping on the bottom of a Sweet 16. As a kid, I learned to sail on the lake by our house on small boats: Minifish, Sunfish, Windsurfers, etc.
I tagged along with my folks as they traveled around the country to regattas and would race if there was an available small boat, sailboard, or crew position. I think I learned a lot about sailing, not only from the racing, but also from listening to the old salts chat over beers by the fire.
Our family purchased a few different keelboats over the years and we would trailer those to regattas around the country. We raced J24s, C22s, U20s and I would usually be in the foredeck position.
I didn't do much sailing in college or graduate school, being mostly landlocked, but when my wife and I were looking for places to move to, a place like Madison was high on the list partly because of the nice large lakes and an active sailing community.
When we moved to Madison I joined Hoofers and sailed an MC Scow for the first time ever in 2014. I wasn't used to a boat with two boards, but found the MC Scow a ton of fun. The waves in Lake Mendota on a breezy day are perfect for taking an MC Scow wave surfing!
I've been to many yacht clubs, and MYC stands out on its own as an amazing club with a great group of folks. When I was asked to be on the board I was happy to serve and I am looking forward to both building the MC fleet as well as learning about how I can help support the MYC.
Ben Miller, MYC Secretary
My first experience sailing was on a Rhodes Bantam, a beautiful 14-foot wooden sailboat, on Cayuga Lake in Upstate New York, when I was about 12. I was hooked immediately. However, my real sailing education began a couple years later on Lasers at at a Boy Scout camp. Sailing all week at camp was the highlight of my summer for the next few years. In addition, my friend's father, who owned the Rhodes, began teaching the two of us to sail it. Unfortunately, my sailing career came to a halt when a squall snapped the wooden mast, and then college consumed my life.
I moved to Madison in August of 2012 to begin a graduate program at UW, and I joined Hoofers immediately. I started sailing dinghies, and then got sucked into the keelboat fleet, eventually earning a skipper rating on Spray. In 2013, another member introduced me to Peggy Elath as substitute crew on her J/80. In 2014, I began teaching on C scows at Hoofers, and began racing with Peggy more regularly. In the Fall of 2014, I joined the Hoofers board as the Scow Fleet captain, and simultaneously became the MYC/Hoofers liason. In 2015, I sailed occasionally with Peggy, and began trimming jib regularly on Eric Kerlow's E-scow.
When I'm not sailing, I'm most likely studying. However, I have sometimes found the time to bicycle around the lakes, climb rocks, or even make the jaunt to Chicago for a concert.
Pete Mooney, Rear Commodore (thru 2020)
Pete prefers helping Hoofers and MYC over talking about himself, so the editor put together a little info on him here. Pete has been a member of MYC for several years, but he is an institution over at the Hoofer Sailing Club, where he has been a member for over forty years, maybe even close to fifty. He always wears a smile and always can be found out to sea on Lake Mendota, where he is the definitive instructor on the big keelboats. If you see Soma or Decoy racing or with a whole slew of trainees in a lesson, most likely you’ll see Pete’s smiling face and easy-going style giving pointers to the enthusiastic crew.
Pete is always willing to lend a hand and I guess that’s why he was easy to press into service at the MYC Annual Membership Meeting last fall. As a nominee from the floor, Pete graciously agreed to serve on our board and he has been a helpful participant throughout his first year of service.
Do you want a good friend, a good helper, a good sailor? Say “hi” to Pete Mooney!
John Rather, Director (thru 2018)
I’ve been on sailboats since I was in diapers. My father is a life-long sailor and has always encouraged me to make sailing a part of my life. I grew up racing optis, MCs, M-16s and J-24s out of Neenah-Nodaway Yacht Club. I was an active member of the UW Sailing Team all 4 years of college. While in college I also worked summers as a youth instructor and coach, first at my home yacht club and later in Lake Geneva, receiving my U.S. Sailing Levels 1 and 2 instructor certifications along the way. Many of my closest friends are former teammates and fellow coaches I met in college.
While in Milwaukee for law school I crewed on a T-10 that won North Americans and on a Mumm-36. I also was a youth and adult instructor at Milwaukee Yacht Club. After law school I returned to Madison and began crewing on E scows. I met my lovely wife Katie one Sunday crewing on the Sugars’ E scow. She and I now partner with Mike and Susie Barnett on an E, my favorite boat I’ve ever raced. Aside from sailing, Katie and I are avid skiers (cross country and downhill), cyclists, campers and travelers.
I’ve been a part of several yacht and sailing clubs, but none quite like MYC. The collegiality, encouragement and down to earth nature of the club and its members make it one of a kind. I’m looking forward to being further involved in MYC and helping bring new people into sailboat racing, especially youth. We have a wealth of knowledge in the club and I want to see us leverage that to encourage the next generation of sailors.
Clarke Sugar, Director (thru 2018)
My involvement in sailing was in many ways preordained. Following my cousins' (Ben, Hugh, and Tim) decision to purchase an X-Boat, I was often asked to fill in as crew on windy days. I also followed their lead by participating in the youth sailing and windsurfing courses every summer through Hoofers. Eventually, I graduated from the X-Boat and begin crewing on a regular basis on an earlier version of the Mirage with Lon Schoor. A formative sailing experience occurred during my first regatta on Lake Winnebago when during a cold and windy day the boom vang broke on the A-scow, and I found myself on the skipper's request sitting on back edge of the boom as ballast, feet dangling over the water, as we raced downwind with the remainder of the fleet to our stern.
In high school, I was able to parlay my interest in sailing into a great summer job by returning to Hoofers as an instructor primarily for their youth sailing and windsurfing classes and conference sailing program. I continued to teach sailing and windsurfing, along with spending some time doing boat maintenance and repair while attending the UW-Madison. We have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to boat and sail in some incredible places such as the Apostle Islands, British and U.S Virgin Islands, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aside from sailing, I enjoy hiking, road biking, skiing, camping, traveling and cooking with my wife (Leah) and two children (Bode 3 and Soren 9 mos.). I work as a corporate, bankruptcy, and real estate attorney with Axley Brynelson, LLP in downtown Madison. My interest in MYC is primarily to give back to and help sustain a club which has offered me so many learning and recreational opportunities as a youth and now as an adult. I am presently a part of the elite H-19 program that sails out of its own port, so by getting involved with the leadership of MYC I look forward to having more interaction with its members.
Bob McLauren, Director (through 2020)
I learned how to sail at Hoofers in the early 90’s after I can to the US from the UK for my first postdoc after graduate school (I thought it would be a good time to get an outside hobby instead of being squirreled away in the lab all the time). I went through the usual Hoofer schedule of Techs, then Interlakes and finally managed to get a crew rating on the Santa Cruz 33 Maria. I also got introduced to racing, crewing on M20s.
In 1995 I moved out to the Washington DC area for yet another postdoc at NIH where I managed to get a regular spot crewing on an S2 7.9 out of the West River on the Chesapeake Bay. This gave me my first experience sailing on a slightly bigger body of water than Lake Mendota and doing some overnight port to port races. This also taught me the importance of tides and currents at mark roundings (sail past the mark before dowsing the chute if you are sailing against the current….only make that mistake once).
After four years out East I made it back to Madison and found myself a ride on Brian Louther’s Santa Cruz 27, En Passant in 1999. I have been sailing with Brian ever since (in spite of having to be evacuated off of En Passant on the 2000 Labor Day race with a dislocated shoulder). Seriously, it has been a very enjoyable 19 years racing with Brian and the Veloce team (asymmetricals are so much better than symmetrical chutes…especially when it comes to shoulder injuries). It’s a fantastic group of guys and I couldn’t quite imagine spending my summer in any other way. Last year team Veloce made our first trip to the BVIs with spouses/significant others. That was a superb experience, and one which I am certain we will repeat.