• Kim Piekos

No Blue Blazers Required: LF Yacht Club Members Are ‘Nice People Who Love Sailing’

By Kim Piekos

Lake Michigan is a beautiful resource treasured by most Lake Forest residents. Yet many are unaware that another gem exists at the lakefront, one devoted to the joys of sailing the lake and celebrating this shared interest with others in the community – the Lake Forest Yacht Club (LFYC).

Started in 1999, membership has grown to nearly 50 people over the years.

“Everybody wants to help each other out, whether it’s helping you fix something on your boat, clean it or learn more about sailing it well,” says Lake Forest Yacht Club Commodore Bill Porter.

“We’re a bunch of really nice people who love sailing – not a blue blazer kind of club – and we welcome anyone who might want to join us to learn more about what sailing is all about,” says LFYC Commodore Bill Porter, a 25-year Lake Forest resident who grew up sailing in Newport Beach, Calif. “You don’t need a boat or sailing experience. Come out with us and see what you think of sailing.”

The Yacht Club gathers on fair-weather Wednesday evenings to sail together and enjoy grilling dinner at the beach afterwards.

“We usually make a call on the weather by 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and aim to be out on the water by 5-5:30 p.m.,” Porter explains. The sailboats that are owned by members are housed on trailers in an enclosed area managed by the City of Lake Forest near the south end of the lakefront. It takes about 15 minutes for boat owners to launch their boats. This involves attaching the electric trailer dolly to the boat trailer, transporting it a few yards to the crane and hoisting the boat up and into the water.

He attributes the club’s success to its unusual esprit de corps.

“Everybody wants to help each other out, whether it’s helping you fix something on your boat, clean it or learn more about sailing it well,” Porter says. “Sailing offers so many life lessons, from how to work with people to developing good strategies and tactics and weathering and adjusting to different conditions that appear out of the blue. It gets your juices flowing.”

In addition to the Wednesday-evening outings, the LFYC gathers five to six times a summer to hold rallies, friendly racing to and from Waukegan for lunch or to Chicago (an eight-hour sail) for the weekend.

Porter says the application process to join the LFYC is simple. Those interested should send a note to the club via its website www.lfyc.net indicating their interest in joining and their experience with sailing. Once they apply for membership, new members need one sponsor which the club will facilitate. Dues cost $50 a year. The sailing season typically runs from June through September, though some die-hards aim to get their boats in the water mid-May and sail into the start of November if weather permits.

The LFYC is separate from the Lake Forest Sailing program which provides sailing lessons to youth and adults. Porter explained that though the LFYC is not a teaching organization, new members who are not familiar with sailing often take lessons from Lake Forest Sailing to enhance their skills on the water. “It’s a good day of sailing plus a little fun,” he says. “The sunsets we see being out on the water are gorgeous – no filter needed.”