Saylorville Yacht Club History


Midwest Cruising Sailors Association

Saylorville Yacht Club traces its origin to the late 1970's when the Army Corps of Engineers developed a series of flood control reservoirs in Central Iowa. Prior to the Corps project, sailors trailered their boats, sometimes across great distances. These trailer-sailors formed the Midwest Cruising Sailors Association (MCSA) early in 1976.



Looking at Mile-Long Bridge, MCSA members anxiously waited for Saylorville Reservoir to fill in the spring of 1977


Saylorville Yacht Club Racing and Education

MCSA members made annual trips to the Apostle Islands throughout the 1980’s, however, the close proximity of Saylorville Lake and the ability to spend time more time on the water lead to closer ties with SYC and a shift in focus. In addition to enjoying social events, members of SYC honed their sailing skills through racing competition. As a result, SYC and MSCA began to host joint racing events and an annual regatta.

By the late 1990’s, the ranks of SYC and MCSA were nearly synonymous. Although some members still trailered their sailboats to far-away places, the days of being a “cruising club” had passed; most club activities centered around Saylorville Lake. To reflect this change, SYC and MCSA formally merged operations under the SYC banner in 2007.

Another important event occurred in 2007 with the founding of the Saylorville Yacht Club Sailing School (SCYSS). The sailing school enabled the club’s long-standing educational aspirations by establishing a core group of US Sailing certified sailing instructors, a fleet of sailing boats, and a curriculum of courses for both youth and adult students.


MSCA at Big Creek Lake in 1977

Saylorville Lake

The flood gates closed on the Saylorville Reservoir on April 12, 1977 but the lake didn’t fill until late fall. Fortunately, Red Rock Lake filled quickly and allowed MCSA to host the first annual “Wind Rose” raft up, and the raft-up tradition continues to this day. The first joint MCSA – Saylorville Yacht Club (SYC) event, a pig roast at Cherry Glen, occurred in 1981 and drew over 200 participants.







SYC and MCSA developed close ties, hosting joint events including an annual regatta

SYC and MCSA developed close ties, hosting joint events including an annual regatta

Big Creek – Where it all began

An enthusiastic, close-knit group of sailors formed the Midwest Cruising Sailors Association (MCSA) in 1976.

Charter members frequented Big Creek Lake, the first lake to fill as the Army Corps of Engineers built a series of reservoirs in Central Iowa. MCSA was part of “the boom” in Trailerboat clubs forming in the 1970’s. Yachting was no longer the exclusive domain of the wealthy; fiberglass construction and mass production of 16-25 foot sailboats enabled many landlocked families to enjoy cruising.

In an article for Sea, a nationally published magazine, founding MCSA member Judi Pot wrote:

“If you are wondering where you go cruising around Iowa, don’t underestimate the capabilities of trailerable boats – or the people who use them. Members of this farmland club have sailed Puget Sound, the Bahama Islands, the Gulf of Mexico, including the Yucatan Peninsula…we feel it is far more rewarding and a better test of seamanship to sail our own trailerable craft from Palm Beach across the Gulfstream to Grand Bahama and the Abcos rather than fly over and charter a larger boat…”


History of the Wind Rose

What is a Wind Rose?

According to Wikipedia, a wind rose is a graphic tool used by meteorologists to give a succinct view of how wind speed and direction are typically distributed at a particular location. However, in 1977 the term wind rose acquired a new definition as 20 boats formed a circle, stern-to-stern, on Lake Red Rock for the first annual “Wind Rose Raft-up”.


First Annual Wind Rose in 1977 on Red Rock Lake

Snacks, refreshments, and occasionally sailors passed from boat-to-boat around the wind rose. Everyone enjoyed the event so much it became an annual tradition, moving from lake-to-lake during the Fourth of July weekend.


Ron Pot, "Father of the Wind Rose" moves between boats serving refreshments during the Second Annual Wind Rose, Saylorville Lake, 1978

Raft-ups continue to be a popular Saylorville Yacht Club social event, occurring monthly during the sailing season.


Des Moines Register Article on 1989 Wind Rose, Rathbun Lake


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