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The History of Racine Yacht Club
To the right is Racine Yacht Club in 1914. The city of Racine and Racine Yacht Club enter into a lease agreement on April 18, 1928. The city of Racine moved the club to the water's edge from east of Michigan Boulevard and South of Barker Street to the location where the present Richter Building is. The city provided the foundation and city water but no plumbing.
Below is a picture of the club in 1929 after a spring storm where the water encroached on the building after only being in its new location one year.
In 1934, tragedy struck for three members on the 34 foot yacht "Spray" that set sail on a Saturday night, to enter a series of races at South Shore Yacht Club. The boat was owned by Oswald Aul and Harold Sustachek.
At midnight the boat was struck by a sharp gust of wind and the boat took on a large quantity of water where the deck was scarcely a foot out of the water. The waves washed the three sailors into the water several times.
Two of the three sailors died that night as the wind and seas took their toll on the yacht. Irving Uhlir and Tom Graham both drowned, leaving Herman Jansen as the only survivor. Jansen clung to the mast for 14 hours until the Racine Coast Guard could get to him. The other two crew members could not hold on.
The "Spray" was known by almost every sailor by sight. Sailors said there was something distinctive about her lines. She was built in 1901 for a Chicago sportsman.
Otto Wadewitz was commodore at the time starting in 1933 and would serve at the helm for five continuous terms through 1937. This achievement has not been surpassed.
Otto lead the Racine Yacht Club through the worst years of the Great Depression. He became the club's benefactor as well as commodore and helped it to survive financially during those troubled years.
Wadewitz found the cold winter breezes off of Lake Michigan a bit harsh and headed south to Mobile Bay where Fairhope Yacht Club was founded. Otto is seen in the picture to the left standing by the early Star fleet.
Otto was later memorialized by the club when their board of governors named a new 210-foot timber dock in his name during gala ceremonies in 1955. The Racine Yacht Club is still very much in existence and is known as one of the finest yachting organizations on Lake Michigan.
1 Barker Street, Racine,