The Blue Valley Yacht Club is an organization for sail boaters in the Manhattan area. The Club began 50 years ago and is incorporated as a non-profit organization to promote sailing and provide facilities for sailboats on Tuttle Creek Lake. The Club leases about 10 acres of land and water on the west side of Tuttle Cove from the Corps of Engineers.
Actually, the Club's roots precede Tuttle Creek Lake. When the lake was still a controversial project, a group of ardent sailors from Manhattan and Clay Center faithfully met at Pottawatomie Lake for camaraderie and competition. A handful of those sailors - the Lieblers, Samelsons, Hostetters and Al Bailey - formed the nucleus for what would become the Blue Valley Yacht Club. In 1963, this group organized a regatta held in conjunction with the Tuttle Creek dedication ceremony and as Sonie Liebler recalls, "We were sailing through the milo fields as the lake was filling up." A short time later, the Blue Valley Yacht Club was formed. The first meeting of the Club was held on June 29, 1963 at the home of Helen and Phil Hostetter. The 26 people in attendance at the meeting elected Al Liebler as Commodore, Franz Samelson as Vice Commodore, Phil Hostetter as Secretary-Treasurer, and Al Bailey as Fleet Chairman. The Lieblers, Samelsons, Hostetters, and Bailey along with other charter members (the Millers and Lacys) are still active today.
In the early years the Club leased space and procured a club house at the now defunct Spillway Marina. But, ownership of the marina changed hands several times and maintenance of the facility became a perpetual problem. As facilities deteriorated, the Club petitioned the Corps of Engineers for a new location. The request was denied in early 1973. This was a frustrating period in the Club's history as efforts to gain improvements or a new area were continually thwarted. Finally, in August 1974, the Club learned that the Corps of Engineers would lease property on Tuttle Cove.
The lease was signed in January 1975 providing the Club with 3.98 acres of water and 6.35 acres of land. Then the monumental construction project in terms of work and finances began. A road and parking lot were cleared, a concrete ramp was laid, a dinghy park was constructed, moorings were set in place, and loading docks ordered before the sailing season began; picnic tables and a new tractor were acquired shortly thereafter. In subsequent years the Club continued to improve the facilities by extending the ramp in two directions, building a new shelter and firepit, and purchasing a committee boat. Maintenance of existing facilities continues. In 1988 the Club completed renovation of the 10 year old moorings; acquired a removable roof for the shelter, and began a dinghy park improvement project. In 1990 one of the floating docks was rebuilt and a larger tractor, for use in launching and recovering larger boats, was purchased; in 1990, the second floating dock was rebuilt.
Racing has always been a focal point of the activities of the Club. In early years, the racing program was especially ambitious. It was common to have a spring, summer, and fall series that included 24 races held on Wednesdays and Sundays plus long distance races, special regattas, balloon races, singlehanded championships, and overnight races. The Club joined the Central States Sailing Association (CSSA) and hosted several Association regattas. BVYC won the CSSA award for best regatta of 1981, hosted several Kansas District Laser Championships, and hosted the Sweet 16 National Championships of 1976. The early Club received a lot of public interest as well as financial support from the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. A large amount of public approval was won by offering free sailboat rides, sailing instruction, racing clinics, and novice races. After a very flourishing racing beginning, publicity, and support (both external and from within the Club) gradually waned. The low point for racing was 1988 when only the two traditional long distance races were held. Since 1989, the Boards of Directors have aggressively pursued revitalization of the racing program. The 1991 Racing Program includes 10 monthly regattas and specialty races and the two traditional long distance (to the Randolph Bridge and return) races. Also, the Club will host the CSSA sanctioned Kansas State Sunfish Championship Regatta on September 14 and 15. Once again, fleets of white sails rounding orange markers are familiar sights on many weekends at Lake Tuttle.
Social events have not changed significantly throughout the years. The Club By-Laws require that an annual meeting be held in November. Traditionally, this meeting has been a social event with a banquet and program to complement the required business meeting. The Club also inaugurates the sailing season with a Spring meeting and dinner. In the Fall the popular pig roast (and covered dish dinner) is held on the BVYC grounds; sandwiched between Spring and Fall are a few sailing events, moonlight sails, and barbecues. In addition, small, informally organized groups often congregate at an anchorage or even on impromptu raft-ups during windless days.
When the marina at Fancy Creek, near Randolph, was relocated to the spillway area, the Fancy Creek Yacht Club (FCYC) moved also. Members of the FCYC enjoyed an advantage of having slips for their yachts rather than the moorings at BVYC; but, BVYC members remained loyal and did not join the competing club. Both clubs enjoyed joint social and racing events until 1987 when the marina folded. In March 1987, FCYC officially disbanded and several members joined the Blue Valley Yacht Club.
Members are kept informed by the BVYC Newsletter published about six times per year. The newsletter has been a valuable tool for advising the membership, promoting unity, and tracing Club history. Members are encouraged to contribute articles for publication.
Operational expenses of the Club are met by membership dues and fees for moorings or dinghy park spaces. These dues and fees are maintained at the lowest possible level because most work in the Club is done by the members. When the Club moved to the present site there was little money in the treasury to undertake the massive construction projects, so the membership underwrote the projects by loaning money to the Club in $500 and $1000 pledges for 5 years at 7% interest. The Club no longer has any debts and the membership dues of $110 per year are considered affordable for any interested sailor.