Sailing has often been popular as a sport and means of recreation. Wherever there is water you can often find some form of sailing. Sailing relies on a sail to catch the wind and propel the boat forward. According to the Olympics yacht racing officially began in 1851 with the first America’s Cup. Yacht racing is a specific type of sailboat racing that deals with keel boats, that is, boats that have a dagger like ballast in the water to keep the boat level. Smaller boats or dinghies use a centerboard, which is similar to a keel but can be moved and taken, out of the boat. Dinghy sailing has existed for much longer than keelboat racing, but there are no records of when it officially began. In the Adirondack State Park both forms of racing thrive. Multiple boat clubs have sprung up around the various lakes of the park. Sailing has evolved today to be more than just boats. Kite board and windsurfer clubs have also been founded in the Adirondacks. The park is now home to many clubs and marinas to sail with. Sailing has not had the same cultural impact that guide boats or canoes have had. The main cultural contribution sailing has given to the Adirondacks is social clubs and helping to create summer communities.
Many of the lakes in the park are ideal for sailing and have their own yacht club to boot. These clubs often keep a small fleet of dinghies as well as offer yacht-racing events for their members. The Lake George Club was set up in 1908. The club as originally intended as a site where members could hold aquatic sports. It wasn’t till 1935 when sailing was included in the club. Owners brought their boats which included three Star and two Cape Cod Knock About’s. Sailing was kept at a relatively small size until after WWII. After the war sailing exploded on Lake George with the introduction of the J boat. J boats are yachts that are relatively easy to sail and fairly cheap. Regattas were held with these boats often on the lake. In the 1970’s we see the addition of a club dinghy fleet. Boats such as 420’s and Optimists were added so that younger people could learn to sail. Today The Lake George Club has over 300 members.
There are many other boat clubs around the Adirondacks. The stories for these clubs, such as the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, and the Saratoga Springs Yacht Club are similar to that of The Lake George Club. As we get into the tail end of the 20th century we also see the advent of sailing based board sports such as kite boarding and windsurfing. The Adirondack Board Club often holds events and competitions in these sports. Sailing in the park started with small individually organized regattas and has transformed into numerous private clubs with fleets of boats.
Jenkins, Jerry, and Andy Keal. The Adirondack Atlas: A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse UP :, 2004. Print.
Bond, Hallie E. Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks. Syracuse, NY: Adirondack Museum, 1995 Print.
"History of The Lake George Club." History of The Lake George Club. The Lake George Cluub. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.
"History of Lake Champlain: Recreational Period." History of Lake Champlain: Recreational Period. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.