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  • Writer's pictureErin Dentzien

The Ma-Me-O Beach Sailing Club

Updated: Apr 17, 2022

In the summer of 1980, Chips Reid began promoting sailboat racing at Ma-Me-O with excitement and persistence to have everyone with a sailboat join up, which came to be a 40-year legacy of sailing at Pigeon Lake!

The very first race was from the pier out to and around Pigeon Poop Island, then back to the pier. Two official positions for officers of the club were created. The ‘Commodore’ position was quickly amended to ‘Commodore for Life’ of which Frank Doucette was elected. At 85, and having been mayor of Ma-Me-O Beach and Commodore forever, Frank then passed the mantle to Bill Brebber. The second position, ‘Officer of the Day,’ was generally a volunteer cajoled to run the race day activities.

The season started with a gathering May Long Weekend at the old unheated wooden dance hall. After it burnt down meetings were then on pier benches along the beach. As the cabins grew more accommodating, meetings moved into the warmth of someone’s cabin. Sailing was always a short season. The Ma-Me-O Beach Sailing Club grew to include 40 families.

Sailing Club docked_Provided by Julie Sommerville

Equipment was stored in a shed on Bruce Walker and Louis Sledz properties right at the pier. Jim Newby arranged to pick up a motor boat for race days. It was easy to start, simple and roomy. The motorboat helped to rescue capsized sailors when necessary. The need for insurance arose for both the boat and equipment and for liability in case of accidents. Conveniently, for the club Karen Dyberg was a member and also an insurance broker. The positions of Treasurer and Equipment manager were promptly added to the official positions within the club at the same time. Harry Davis dominated the Treasurer role with his expertise. Funds were raised to help pay for some of the maintenance, insurance and fuel costs. Significant support was provided for numerous Junior Sailing schools around the lake. Weights, flags, whistle, blow horns, mega phones, timers, buoys, anchor lines, anchors and chains, clipboards and pencils were some of the things strewn about the sand in those early mornings. Racing was always weather dependent. Basically, if someone saw a sail being hoisted on the beach, everyone knew the races were on. It was always a beautiful sight, to look out and watch the sleek and colorful sailboats quietly cutting the water as they chased each other.

Sailing Club race_July 2015_Provided by Bill Brebber

Initially, racers sailed on both Saturdays and Sundays during July and August with two or three races each day. August long weekend was the Invitational Regatta with four or five races each day which included a lunch, dinner and dance in the evening. Each sailor learned to sail and race while on the water by watching what others did along with guidance from the elder members. It was primarily a sailing club, and was never planned to be competitive but the competitive spirit arose with the sun each weekend.

Sailing Club_Provided by Julie Sommerville

Scoring races was based on a complicated adjusted timing scale system for each class of sailboat, that nobody understood. Hence, no one would really know for sure who the daily winners were. Soon, making it near official, three inflatable bright yellow buoys were used to mark the course. One year soon after, a passing motor boat stole them! It was creative how many ideas the Officers of the Day came up with to mark and run the races.

In an effort to assist the kids to sail safely, Dave Terriff brought in several ‘Bytes’ from a Seattle Sailing Regatta. The bytes were a one-person dinghy-type sailing boat the kids could learn on before taking on the larger sailing rigs. They were spread out to families along the beach, and the kids were quick to take up the challenge. Mike Terriff and Regan Brown became sailing instructors. Chriss Terriff joined the Ma-Me-O Recreation Board to include sailing instruction in their programs. Many kids joined the Alberta Sailing Team and competed at regattas in Alberta and across Canada. Chris Terriff and Braden Arth won the Golden Sitoon in 2004, and won the Alberta Open two years in a row.

Sailing Club_Provided by Julie Sommerville

The highlight of the year was the wind up party during September Long Weekend. The very first party was in 1981, at the fire pit of Bruce Walker’s cabin. One year, when competition for first place was very fierce and very close, the commodore awarded two awards – one for being the greatest sailor alive and the other for thinking they are the greatest sailor alive. Both winners received exactly the same prize and they had to figure out who was who and which was which. It was there that Bruce and Chips awarded the coveted first place prize ‘the Golden Sitoon.’ This was a porcelain pot (also known as a thunder mug) retrieved from an old cabin, mounted on an old curling trophy and all spray painted dull gold.

The Ma-Me-O Beach Sailing Club has been actively promoting and participating in the community for over forty years. Over that time, members have come and gone in accordance with the changes in their lives. In recent years sailing activity has dwindled, but the club still exists as an active social group of good friends and families that love to gather for lunches and share stories and embellished memories. The Sailing Club has had decades of fun and laughs, with great memories, and many new lifelong friends made on the waters of Pigeon Lake.

List of Members Throughout the Years - (in no particular order)

  • Chips (founder and constant promoter) and Liz Reid - Hobie 16

  • Len and Bobbie and Kelly and Lana and Brad Bistritz - Seaspray, NACRA 5.2

  • Bruce and Lori Walker and Louis Sledz - Fireball

  • Peter and Elaine Watson - Monohull 505, NACRA 18-2 (The Witch) & faithful supporter Mark Watson

  • Bill Kreinen and Miriam Reid - Hobie 16 Stud Love Boat Doctor & Bachelor In A Speedo

  • Frank and John Koenig - Seasprays

  • Jim and Joan Newby - Seaspray

  • Frank and Jean Doucette - Firecat, NACRA 18-2 (Rufus)

  • Dave and Gail and Mike and Chris Terriff -Hobie 16, Trac 14, NACRA 18-2 (Macropus Rufus) then NACRA 18-2 (Thumper) and lnvitation, Laser, Laser 2, Byte, NACRA 5.8 (Airwolf)

  • John and Sheila Slater - 505

  • Lorne Vandenberg - Seaspray

  • Peter McLellan and Shauna Miller - Prindle 15, NACRA 5.2

  • Dennis and Janey Walker - Seaspray

  • Buster Gilbert - Fireball

  • Harry and Bev and Rob and Cory and Jamie Davis -Hobie 16

  • Paul and Julie and David and Mark and John and Mathew Sommerville - Prindle 19, NACRA 18-2, Laser 2, Byte

  • Brad and Carol Arth and Regan Brown - Hobie 16 then NACRA 18-2 and byte

  • Richard Blackwell and Helen and Sharon - lnvitation, NACRA 18-2, NACRA 5.2

  • Roy and Carol Cotton - Hobie 18 (Bad Kitty), NACRA 5.8 (Brews Brothers)

  • Del and Laurel Skaret - Unicorn

  • Ron and Pauline and Terry Bakken - Unicorn, NACRA 18-2 (Roxy)

  • Tim Healy and Graeme Bittorf -Hobie 16 (Kings Ransom) and NACRA 18-2 (Rainmaker)

  • Carol Cotton and Mac Millar - NACRA 18-2 (Blew By You)

  • Ernie Staples -Tornado then NACRA 18-2

  • Steen and Marion and Paul Hansen - NACRA 5.2, 5.8 & Ferrari

  • Brad and Suzanne and Daniel Jayson Sparrow - Hobie 16

  • Dave and Vivianne and Kayden and Demi Sparrow - NACRA 5.2 & 18-2

  • Dave Lloyd and Rich Hiron and Heather Jehn - Tornado

  • Mac Smith - Hobie 14 and morning trumpet call

  • Tom Smith - Hobie 16

  • Herb Reid and his brother- the Sol Cat guys

  • Mike and Shelley and Tony and Michelle Doucette - Tornado & NACRA 18-2

  • Bill Brebber and Carmen Gareau -NACRA F18

  • Dave Hope and Heather Steen - NACRA 6.0, NACRA 18-2

  • Karen Dyberg -Hobie 14, Laser & Laser 2

  • Ron Durda -Poplar Bay Diabetic - Seaspray

  • Uriel Carrasquilla - Laser

  • Elmer Christiansen - Hobie 16

  • Slim Otterson - Hobie 14

  • Glen and Karen Powers - Seaspray

  • Bruce Loyer - lnvitation

Sailing Club race_July 2015_Provided by Bill Brebber

That's all for now folks! Stay tuned for our next post as more stories are collected and submitted.

~History Book Team~

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