Snipes at Oak Orchard Yacht Club: Updated 12-14-10

The Snipe class sailboat was a mainstay at OOYC from the late 1930s into the 1960s. Sailing at OOYC was founded by its Snipe sailors. The images in this post are from Joan “Joni” Richmond’s collection. Her family’s cottage is located where Archbald Rd. ends at the lake shore.

Joni and sailing friends at Oak Orchard 1945. (Joni top left)
Joan Richmond and friends 1945
The old clubhouse at Point Breeze
OOYC Old Club HouseIn a report entitled “Information Relating to Oak Orchard Harbor Entrance”, created in 1937 in an effort by Bernard Ryan and others to secure government funds for improving the waterway, a small section was devoted to information about the Oak Orchard Snipes:

Snipe Fleet Races:

In the summer of 1938 there was organized the Oak Orchard Snipe Fleet consisting at first of five boats and since has been augmented to twelve.

(Names listed: Queen Bee, Sandra, Dolbar, Kiwi, Zephyr, Venture, Falcon, Obsession, Hi-C, Brita, Shag, and Tagalong. Yearly cost to maintain each boat was estimated at $30.00)

Report continues:

During the past two summers the snipe fleet, as members of the International Snipe Racing Association, has held weekly and holiday races that have attracted a large gallery of spectators. On those days the harbor entrance has been in almost constant use with several large cabin cruisers, a number of smaller power boats and even rowboats and canoes putting out into the lake in the morning to watch the contests. These races have been held on a triangular course about a half mile or more from the mouth of the river.

Two annual prizes have been offered to the snipe fleet. One, the Burrows Trophy, passes each year to the skipper who has amassed the greatest number of points in the official season. It is a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lynn M. Burrows of Albion and was initiated in 1938. The Ed Fitzpatrick Trophy, consisting of prizes to both skipper and crew winning the race designed as the Ed Fitzpatrick Trophy Race, is named for its donor and was given in 1939 for the first time.

The report goes on to state:

Also in the summer of 1938, The Oak Orchard Yacht Club was organized. This now numbers eighteen paid-up members and includes the owners of the snipe boats and the cabin cruisers which make Oak Orchard their home port. Headquarters for the Yacht Club have been fitted up in the old waterfront hotels at Point Breeze on the easterly side of the Harbor.

List of cruisers:

Vagabond 48′- value: $15,000
Luanne II 42’– value: $10,000
Abeona  36′- value: $2,500
Whos-Who 32′ – value: $2,500
Samoset (Mars?) 30′- value: $1,000
Idle Time 30′- value: $1,000
Hi-Ya 26’– value: $1,000
William Watson 25′ – value: $500
E-E-E-E 25′- value: $1,200
Alcor 28′- value: $250

Mr. and Mrs. Lynn M. Burrows' yacht "Luanne II" flying the burgee of OOYC about 1940

History of the Snipe Class
In March 1931, RUDDER magazine Editor and small boat designer William F. (“Bill”) Crosby from Pelham, New York, attended a meeting of the Florida West Coast Racing Association in Sarasota, Florida. To answer a need for a class of small racing sailboats suitable for trailering to regattas, Crosby promised to give the proposed class a send-off by designing and publishing plans for such a boat in his magazine. The name Snipe was chosen in accord with RUDDER’s custom of naming all its designs for sea birds. Snipe plans appeared in the July, 1931 issue of RUDDER, which quickly sold out.
Snipe Plans 1931 Rudder

This pamphlet was saved by Joni Richmond in her scrapbook of Snipe racing pictures.

Snipe Regatta Program1

Snipe Regatta Program2

In this beautiful Kodachrome picture one can look through the group of OOYC Snipes back across the river and see Ed Archbald’s two boathouses.
Snipes of OOYC 1949 2

Snipes OOYC 1949 1

Another amazing Kodachrome from the late 1940s showing lots of activity in the harbor looking out of the creek at the OOYC races taking place out on the lake.

OOYC Snipe Race 1949

Sailing up the creek looks about the same today along the area from the west pier to Archbald’s house.

Snipe 5627 Sailing up Harbor 1949

1949 Albion or Buffalo newspaper article  highlights Leo Laskowski and his boat Venture. Venture is the only known surviving boat from the OOYC glory days of Snipe racing. It was built by Averal Hoot (sp?) and possibly purchased by Leo. It was later sailed by Don Landauer very succesfuly through the 1950s. At some point in time the cedar hull was fiberglassed and during the late 70s thruough early 80s it sat in James Erdle’s garage in Avon, NY until it was passed along to me. Venture was taken to South Carolina during my time in the Air Force and was sailed by me at my wife’s family’s home on Lake Wateree. Today the boat sits only yards from the new Oak Orchard Yacht Club that has long forgotten the days when the Snipe races were popular and boats were wood.

Leo's Venture along with Joni and Ed (Joan Ricmond trophy is mentioned)

Leo working on Venture. Notice the extreamly clean and smooth hull.
Leo with Snipe2Leo with Snipe


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