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  • Bonnie Hawk Barney

Part 3: Annual regattas at the Ark

Industry, transportation, and social life were riding the crest of a wave in Penn Yan and all points whose focus was Keuka Lake a century ago. Whether these demands drew sailors away, or it was the dissension concerning a fraudulent and wrong judges’ decision awarding the Championship Cup to G. F. Gibson (despite consideration of the fact that he failed to round one of the stakes), the reason in any case a matter of speculation, the last chosen president of Keuka Yacht Club, J. H. Smith, was unable to secure a quorum for a meeting in 1873. He presided over a slight rallying of activity the next year, at which point the minutes end. A call for the annual meeting in 1877, noted in a scrapbook kept by the late H. Allen Wagener, again failed to produce a quorum.


The decade of the 80’s witnessed a more permanent establishment of KYC activity on the lake. With a new slate of officers headed by Commodore O. C. Knapp (recorded in a second "the original minutes of KYC" book July 18, 1880), annual regattas of some size and prestige were held. The first regatta, Friday August 20, 1880, at the Ark in Penn Yan, offered prizes of $25 to $3 for the five winning places. By 1884, for the fifth annual regatta, 20 yachts were registered for 2:00 PM races on Thursdays, July 17, 24, and 3. (Quite a gentlemanly time to race...perhaps they were all doctors?)


In 1882, before the start at the Ark, 2 sloops and 10 cat boats.


The sixth annual regatta, 1885, was expanded to five Thursdays in July and August. A rowing competition was added with prizes ranging from $10 down to $3 for four paces. The purse for the sailing competition was extended to ten places, totaling $109. O. C. Knapp served as Commodore during this time, and William Whitfield, forebear of a later KYC Commodore Robert Whitfield, was secretary.