History of Sailing in Pueblo
by Ric Geiman - Past Commodore
A brief history of sailing at Lake Pueblo
Organized sailing in Southern Colorado began even before the Lake Pueblo Dam project was completed. A Club was formed in the early 1970’s. This group sailed small boats on St Charles Reservoir south of Pueblo. This Sailing Club eventually migrated to Lake Pueblo when it began to fill in the mid 1970’s. At about the same time the first Liberty Point Yacht Club was established at the new North Shore Marina. This was soon after the Reservoir filled to a point that launching larger trailered boats became feasible. The LPYC was more geared toward social events than sailing and included both power and sail boats. Bob and Betty Overton were the driving force behind this club. They owned a nice O’day 25 and always dressed the part by wearing traditional white sailing attire. Gams, a boaters gathering, were held monthly at their home. Bob was the Outdoor Section writer for the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper and often covered sailing events at the lake. This helped boost interest in the sport.
In about 1976, several of the sailboat owners in the LPYC decided branch off and establish the Southern Colorado Yacht Club. This group was quite active in its promotion of sailing. They were even allowed to install and maintain six permanent marks on the lake! Gary Morschini the owner of a local auto dealership, began selling Chrysler sailboats in Pueblo. He was a prominent supporter of sailing at the Lake and was Commodore of SCYC in its early years. Roger and Mike Fonda opened the boat dealership, Chinook Boats, on Pueblo Boulevard at about the same time. They sold new and used boats and also offered repair and storage services.
The very first annual Colorado Governor’s Cup Regatta was held at Lake Pueblo in 1979. That makes this year the 40th anniversary of the event and the tradition continues to this day at Cherry Creek Reservoir. It was an impressive event in “79” with a decent budget and some corporate sponsorship (Budweiser!). The cup itself was created in Pueblo by Bill Jackaletta and Nick Latka at the University of Southern Colorado campus. SCYC hosted the Governor’s Cup for 10 Years at Lake Pueblo in addition to many local regattas. Local sailor Glenn Miller was crew on a Governor’s Cup winning Santana 525 during this era. Up to 107 boats would compete in these events according to then Commodore Mike Dreier. There were three catamaran fleets along with keelboat and dinghy fleets that would participate. One design fleets of J22’s, J 24’s, Santana 525’s, Catalina 22’s, 505’s, Buccaneers, and others evolved out of the keelboat Fleet. The boat ramp was a hectic place with so many boats rigging and launching prior to the regattas since not everyone could afford the $90 per month slip fee!
It sounds like there were some great times back in the day. The shore on the west side of NSM was covered with trucked in gravel making it a nice beach area. After regattas there would be a gathering on the “beach” around a campfire. Apparently there were a few colorful characters back then too. The real name of Captain Crunch shall remain anonymous, but apparently the reputation was well deserved! In the 1970’s the NSM even allowed the SCYC to use the shop as a club house.
Eventually though, interest in the sailing club began to wane as windsurfing captured the interest of the young sailors and powerboats began to take over the lake. Weekends became so crowded with powerboats that it ruined the sailing experience for many. The number of members declined to a point that the SCYC disbanded in the late 1980’s.
In around 2000 Mike Paterelli formed the University of Southern Colorado Sailing Club. This small group pared students with experienced local sailors. They had three or four Laser sailboats and organized a Spring and a Fall Regatta each year. The club never really caught on and this one also dissolved in around 2004.
In 2006, Lonnie and Rita Parsons re-established the Liberty Point Yacht Club. They put a lot of energy into the Club and had success in reviving interest in sailing at the lake. They would go from sailboat to sailboat at both marinas spreading the word about their new Club. It paid off! Their club was on a roll for six years and had as many as 29 boats participating in regattas. Lonnie was Commodore for the first 3 years and promoted social events as well as well organized fleet racing. The Commodores Ball and the Cap’n Jacks Regatta were his and Rita’s idea. The gin pole that Lonnie had installed at the South Shore Marina is a lasting reminder of his efforts and his dedication to sailing. By 2012 however, LPYC participation and interest declined and this club also disbanded.
I was asked to store the marks and flags the club owned since I was still organizing the annual Around the Island Race. That led me to thinking, how could we keep a sailing club going at the lake? It would have a good chance of success if it’s fun, low stress, and free and has an interesting schedule of events. So, the Lake Pueblo Sailing Club was started in 2013. Today the LPSC continues to grow and evolve and the future for this group of sailors looks very bright! It’s important to look back and acknowledge those who have contributed to local sailing, but it’s just as important for us to think about the future and mentor the new sailors we meet. When a fleet of sailboats gather on the lake for a Regatta, it’s an impressive sight. I feel so fortunate every time I get to participate in a LPSC event! I hope you get that same feeling.
Here are a few of the lake Pueblo sailors who have gone on to ocean sailing. I’m sure there are several more...
Jay & Barb Matheson
Lonnie & Rita Parsons
Al & Di Aubert
Caroline Kelley & Kirk Fredrickson
John & Kay Vucasovich
Ric & Cindy Geiman
Commodore - Chris Huggins
Vice Commodore - Michael Pinkerton
Past Commodore - Ric Geiman
Fleet Captain - Ray Jack