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Okauchee Lake Yacht Club
Sailing & Racing Excellence Since 1936

HomeLearn about OLYC Sailing

Learn about sailing on Okauchee with OLYC.....

Okauchee Lake Yacht Club was formed in 1936 to promote sailing and sailboat racing. While principally devoted to sailing and the support of sailors and their families, the club has numerous social activities for young and old. OLYC offers a great club-house, sailing lessons are available through it’s affiliation with the Okauchee Lake Sailing School, more than 100 feet of “club only” frontage and a private launch. Membership is affordable and allows families living on and off the lake, to enjoy Okauchee Lake and make long lasting friendships.

OLYC hosts races for four types of sailboats allowing sail boat racing opportunities for children starting from as young as the age of 8 through adults into their seventies or eighties. Sailboat racing on Okauchee is fiercely competitive as it is home to past and current National and Inland Champions. While highly competitive and sometimes quite spirited, sportsmanship is foremost and the “after race debriefing” held over a cold beverage, forms the memories of lake life at it’s finest. Races are most often held Saturday mornings at 10:00 (class X and MC), Saturday afternoons at 1:30 (Class MC and Class C) and Sunday mornings at 10:00 (class X and Class C). The smallest of the sailboats (Optimist Prams) are usually sailed on Friday afternoons and evenings.

Sailboat racing can be rather difficult to understand for the uninitiated. The typical race course is set with a starting line formed by a large orange ball and an orange flag displayed on the judge’s boat and two additional orange balls placed directly towards the winds origin. Sailboats cannot sail directly up wind so must change directions as they zig-zag up the course (tack). The boats return heading down wind again changing direction strategically (jibes).

Prior to the race, competitors pace back and forth below the starting line preparing for the starting sequence indicated by a flags on the judge’s boat. With about one minute to go, the boats position themselves and head up to the starting line. At the start of the race, a flag is lowered a gun or horn is sounded and the competitors power up their boats and head towards the left side of the course. This maneuver is called a starboard tack and maintains order between the initial chaos of these boats when they are so close together. When it is safe to break away from each other, the competitors may elect to turn right (port tack) or continue on the starboard tack in hopes that it is the most favored direction.  Stringent rules dictate right of way, minimize collisions and govern the race. Infractions are penalized.

When the competitors reach the farthest buoys (windward) they must safely round the buoys without fouling the other competitors. This maneuver can be very exciting and often shouting of instructions and requests for right of way is heard. Once rounded at windward, the sail boats head down wind and race for the gate, a sequence of two buoys that allows the fleet to choose directions and begin to separate.

The race ends when the predetermined amount of laps are completed, most of the time with one last “beat” to wind. Crossing the finish line first, the judge boat signals the winner with a horn or gun.

For more information on Okauchee Lake Yacht Club feel free to contact us
. For a better understanding of the racing on Okauchee, come out and watch a race. Ask one of the many spectator boats and they will be happy to answer your questions or perhaps invite you to “the club” for a lunch or social evening.

See below for the boats raced on Okauchee Lake:


Optimist Pram: Typically sailed by children between the ages of 7 and 14.  The OPTI is a great learning boat but not to be taken lightly. It is also a competitive boat that is sailed throughout the world.


X Boat or Cub Boat: Most often skippered by children between the ages of 12 and 15 and crewed by younger children between the ages of 7 and 12.  Very competitively sailed on many lakes throughout the Midwest and extending into other regions.


MC Scow: The MC is sailed by one person in all but the most extreme wind conditions. The MC boat is very technical and demands concentration. Mistakes lead to a swim in the lake.


C Scow: The C scow is the largest boat sailed on Okauchee and has the most history. The C scow has a high sail to boat hull/weight ratio causing it to be a thrilling boat to sail and compete with. It is most often sailed with a skipper and one crew. When the wind blows three are required!