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Kimberly, James C. / The history of the Neenah-Nodaway Yacht Club of Neenah, Wisconsin: an account of yacht racing on Lake Winnebago from 1859 to 1957

Chapter 7: The Neenah Yacht Club sets the pace,   pp. 71-86

Page 71

           7            The Neenah %facht Club 
                 7        ets the Pace 
 THE suspense and excitement that prevailed in the boatyards 
 during the spring of 1899 continued unabated straight through the 
 summer races. This season ushered in an era that by and large was 
 paced by Will Davis and his Neenah Yacht Club, ably backed by 
 the Winnebago builders. Because he excelled as both designer and 
 skipper, boatyards as well as yachtsmen were drawn into the 
 hurly-burly of competition which he created. During the season 
 his Aderyn and Frank Gates's Argo of Oshkosh, the two leaders, 
 gave the sport and the public the most exciting races that Inland 
members had yet seen. 
  A five-day regatta sponsored by the Oconomowoc yachtsmen 
under the leadership of Com. William Hale Thompson opened the 
season on July 24. Their sailing ground, Lac LaBelle, was a small 
lake with many shoals to catch the uninitiated. It proved to be a 
hectic week for all the entries, but especially so for Capt. Davis 
and his Aderyn. Once she capsized, once she lost her centerboard, 
and twice she got stuck in the mud. Her single victory won him 
the Dupee Cup. The other honors were so well distributed 
throughout the fleet that when the regatta ended, the champion- 
ship was still to be decided. The Aderyn and Argo, however, were 
generally conceded to be the star performers. 
  An Oshkosh paper wasted no time in expressing its opinion of 
Lac LaBelle as regatta ground. "The idea of holding yacht races 
at Lac LaBelle," the criticism read, "appears to be nonsensical
not farcical. It is said there is not water enough in the lake to float 
a scow and that the shoals are so numerous that only an expert 
Oconomowoc pilot knows how to dodge them." This statement, 
of course, was an exaggeration, but the argument was legitimate 
enough. In time the Oconomowoc Club itself gave up racing the 
larger yachts and concentrated on the smaller ones. 

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