Search
  • Bonnie Hawk Barney

Part 7: She'll never sail!

The once-proud Skidoo, which H. Allen Wagener brought to Lake Keuka in 1912, was the craft which Bob Howell, Dr. Woodbury, and Deyo Putnam resurrected in 1926. While great doubts were expressed on her being sea-worthy, she succeeded in rekindling the spark of competition around the lake. Not only were there three of the old A Scows raced, but four speed boats turned out on short notice to travel the triangular course. The largest crowd in racing history of the Keuka Yacht Club was assembled on shore to witness the old Skidoo beat the Young boys’ Y-Y (Too Wise) and L. D Seeley’s Flapdoodle.

Y-Y, Juno II, Dutch Slipper, and Faith at the start


This was a generation of family participation. From their fifty-acre summer home on the Bluff came the Garretts: Paul Garrett, owner of the Virginia Dare Wine label, his son Charles and daughter Evelyn, raced their A Scow and their speed boats. Bob and Derb Young, from the Keuka Hotel, where activity centered, tuned their A. The Champlins from Hammondsport, Charles and Malburn, raced an A. Robert Whitfield of Penn Yan, from a family veteran to A competition a decade before, returned. The Seeleys, the Taylors, Bob Howell, Clarence Andrews of Penn Yan, Charles Jones of Carenaught, and of course Commodore Ally Wagener pumped renewed energy into the KYC competition.


New boats were brought in from the West. Bob Howell purchased Faith, a former Great Lakes champion; the Champlins had Deltox, Greyton "Spink" Taylor bought Caprice, Evelyn Garrett sailed on Vagabond, Bob Whitfield brought down Juno II. Yet unproven on this lake, these new boats aroused skepticism---they were all Marconi rigged, while all Keuka’s A Scows had heretofore been gaff rigged. The added height of the slender mast appeared too fragile, the sail unmanageable. Spectators rallied to bet on disaster.


A July 1, 1927, editorial in the Hammondsport paper sketched it graphically: "How one regrets at times the loss of boyish optimism. When Bill appeared Saturday in white sailor pants