David Onan

From MORC & PHRF to One-Designs, The Fleets Came In

Legacy

As time went on, his enthusiasm for sailboat racing grew, and four years later he was part of Bert Foster’s crew in the Ensign Nationals on Galveston Bay in Texas.

Shortly after that event, his family sold the Ensign, which motivated David to gain more experience by crewing onboard other sailboats at the WYC. He crewed with the Finlandia at the MORC Nationals in Annapolis, MD, Milwaukee and numerous LOWSIA events. He also crewed for John Gjerde and Ralph Turnquist on their J24 OZ, at J24 World and North American events, and crewed with Denny Sanford and Charlie Erickson onboard their Morgan 37 Derigo in the 1975 SORC.

The more he competed, the more his passion and desire for the sport grew. Then he formally joined the WYC in 1978 with his Lindenberg 22 boat and began racing in MORC events.

Culture

“But I think the single most crowning achievement of the Wayzata Yacht Club is our Thursday night activities, when we often have 120 boats and 500 people on the race course. That’s a lot of boats and people, and that tells me a lot of folks have a great time at our club. It also points to the success of the yacht club itself.”

An important component of those Thursday night gatherings is free beer. According to Onan, the tradition started in 1979 by Chuck Coyer, who owned The Saloon in Butler Square in downtown Minneapolis. Before the free beer began, everybody would disappear after racing and head to T Wrights in Minnetonka or to the Muni in Wayzata, and there would be no socialization afterwards. Chuck, who David crewed for, owned an Etchell 22. He believed that if beer was available at the club, people would hang around to talk about their sailing stories and get to know each another. Chuck brought the beer and it worked.

Vision

“Serving as Commodore was good,” David said. “It was a lot of work. But I had an agenda that I wanted to accomplish, including getting Laser and youth sailing going. That was real important to me. Making the yacht club more family oriented, bringing youth there, and encouraging club members to get involved in youth sailing, high school and collegiate sailing, the Junior Olympics, and supporting the sailing school, were all very important to develop a broad based community sailing program. All those activities are just as important today as they will be for generations to come.”

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