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Sep. 23, 2018
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University Yacht Club nears seven decades on Lanier

By Pamela A. Keene
 
As Lake Lanier’s first boating organization, formed nearly a half-dozen years before the reservoir was filled, University Yacht Club has a long and storied history. From its founding by members of the Atlanta Rotary Club, it has grown to more than 235, offering youth sailing programs, boating and social events, lake-wide fireworks and camaraderie on the water throughout the year.
 
“There’s always something to do here and our members stay very active,” said Bill Mueller, commodore of the organization that’s celebrating its 67th year in 2018. “We now have our third generation of members and many of their children come here with their parents.”
 
Nearly 10 years ago, University leadership created the UYC Maritime Foundation to support non-profit and community projects. The foundation sponsors a number of programs. Its flagship is Summer Youth Sailing, offering two weeks of sailing instruction for youngsters ages 6 to 16. Organized by accomplished competitive sailor Susan Reddaway, it takes place at the club’s facilities on Big Creek in a combination of classroom and on-the-water instruction. It began eight years ago and has grown in attendance and in reputation.
 
This year, more than 40 youngsters participated, sailing Optis, Sunfish, Lasers, 420s and Holders. About 60 percent have been to the program more than once and 40 percent are new to sailing. “It’s been so amazing to see the difference in the kids from those early years until now,” Reddaway said. “When they first started, some of them hesitated to sail out to Turtle Island, at the mouth of Big Creek. Now, especially among the older juniors, they’re sailing on their own all the way out to Three Sisters, crossing the channel on their own.”
 
Learning lifetime skills
The program focuses on having fun on the water. “For them, it’s about learning a lifetime skill that may not have anything to do with sailing,” Reddaway said. “They learn teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership. Sailing is just the vehicle. Some of the participants may not choose to sail as adults, but the skills they’re learning will help them as they go to college and enter the workforce.”
 
This year a new component of the Junior Sailing Program offers coach-in-training for youngsters who are beginning to age out. “This can be their first step in becoming certified as a U.S. Sailing Level 1 instructor,” Reddaway said. “As they’ve progressed, they want to learn more, and so this is a great way to encourage them and give them more responsibility. Several of our current certified instructors actually have come through the program.”
 
Over the years, the two-week Junior Sailing Program has expanded into the Sunscreen Series with youngsters coming to the club with their parents or grandparents for additional boating experiences. University has just begun a Livery Program that allows the kids to take out a program boat during the year.
 
Reddaway has been with the program since the beginning. “I had such positive experiences growing up sailing and racing that I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the next generation,” she said. “I’m able to pass on what I learned so that these youngsters can have the good experiences I did and build a good foundation for their lives as responsible, contributing adults.”
 
The UYC Foundation also awards a minimum of four scholarships to Flowery Branch High School seniors who aspire to pursue careers in the marine industry. “The foundation has been able to do as many as six scholarships to help these deserving area youth,” Mueller said.
 
For years, the foundation hosted the Christmas Boat Parade on Lake Lanier. That event is now organized by Lanier Partners as a fund-raiser for childrens’ charities. The foundation also hosts the annual July 3 lake-wide fireworks.
 
A special day at the lake
Each fall, the foundation hosts “A Day at the Lake” for people in the community with disabilities. “It’s a chance for many of them to experience a boat ride, swimming and time at the lake,” Mueller said. “Many of our members volunteer their boats and their time to make the day a success year after year.”
 
Club members, in groups or individually, also do charity work and community service, including support of Calvary Church. The club hosts collegiate sailing and boating groups, most recently the Auburn University ROTC 2-day training program.
 
University Yacht Club facilities include a clubhouse with dining room, docks for houseboats, cruisers and sailboats, a beach pavilion, dock and deck overlooking Lake Lanier, and administrative offices. Sunday morning church services, open to the public, take place at the outdoor pavilion near the clubhouse.
 
The clubhouse is the focal point of many activities, including breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room. It is open to members and guests of members. Summer hours are Thursday night through Sunday dinner; in the winter, the dining room serves on Friday night through Sunday.
 
“Within the past year, we’ve hired a new chef, Rudy Kremer, who has made some excellent changes in our menus and service,” said Tom Shirey, secretary of the UYC board of directors. “Friday nights are our biggest night and we offer specials on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.”
 
Summer evenings see members enjoying jazz concerts and other events on the lawn behind the clubhouse. In the fall, it’s all about tailgating, with members supporting their favorite collegiate teams. “We have a great time and each group has its own specialty foods,” Shirey said. “The LSU fans cook Cajun; the Tech crowd often brings burgers and fries from the Varsity; and the folks from Kentucky always make something with bourbon. It’s a real smorgasbord or college football.”
 
Member of the NAPC
UYC has a full-time general manager, Chris Ferris, who was hired two years ago. He replaced Ted Koerner, who served in that role for more than a decade.
 
University Yacht Club is a member of the National Alliance of Private Clubs, offering reciprocal privileges at clubs across the nation. In the Atlanta area, those clubs include The Georgia Club, Indian Hills Country Club, Summit Chase Country Club, The 1818 Club, The Georgian Club and others.
 
Membership is open to people who have at least attended college. You do not need to own a boat to join. UYC membership includes an initiation fee, which is discounted by $2,000 through mid-July. Members also pay monthly charges. Boat slips and dry storage are available.
 
The club is located at 6649 Yacht Club Rd. in Flowery Branch. For more info, visit www.universityyachtclub.org or call 770 967-2814.

Posted online 6/29/18
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