About Us 2017-05-24T18:31:52+00:00

About White Lake Sailing School


The White Lake Sailing School holds the enviable position of being the oldest Sailing School with a continuous uninterrupted record of service, and having used a formal, structured program since its inception in 1926.

For all ages, the sailing programs we offer are taught by certified instructors that have always been chosen from the ranks of our graduates. Entirely self supporting, without club subsidies, we have taught sailing to more than three generations.

The WLSS is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and our programs are all open to the public.

WLSS Board of Directors

  • Dick Marvil, Chairman
  • Chip Sawyer, Treasurer
  • Doug McNeil, Secretary
  • Dave Bedau
  • Bob Currier
  • Don Nelson
  • Kerry Hearns-Smith

WLSS Staff

  • Manager, Mike Smith
  • Lead Instructor, Keaton Smith
  • Instructor, Lauren Lopez
  • Instructor, Spencer McCormick
  • Instructor, Alexandra Foos
  • Instructor, Kiera Smith

» Meet the Instructors

Our Philosophy

WLSS prides itself on the long running history of a successful and dedicated school supporting the love of sailing in all ages.

We believe that with sound training by experienced instructors that we can pass on this passion for sailing and bring community members together in enjoying a lifelong water sport.

Our History

The White Lake Sailing School is the country’s oldest, continuously running sailing school. It started with the first class in 1926 and has been successfully nurturing sailors ever since. Read on to discover the full history of WLSS.

2000s • 1990s • 1980s • 1970s • 1960s • 1950s • 1940s • 1920s & 30s


The 75th Anniversary of the Sailing School was celebrated in 2000. Cameron McNeil returned to teach his fourth year with new instructors Ben Martin, Gray Megan and Ryan Gates. Craig and Sue Gates completed 3 years as supervisors

In 2001 leadership of the Sailing School was turned over to Dr. Jonathan Penn. Gray Megan and Ryan Gates returned for a second year, joined by Micah Penn and Graham Allan.

2002 is the 77th year of our Sailing School. We are now serving the third and fourth generations of WLYC sailing families. From today’s students we will draw future instructors and sailing champions. Following the examples of several other yacht clubs our Board of Directors decided to support the establishment of a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) corporation to promote sailing instruction. The White Lake Sailing School, Inc. can receive federal tax deductible contributions. This new organization can also enroll students who are not WLYC members. The White Lake Sailing School Board members were: Chair Dick Marvil, Treasurer Tom Wisnom, Secretary Doug McNeil, Ron Dunwell and Chip Sawyer.

2002 to 2008 – Under the new non-profit structure the White Lake Sailing School (WLSS) was able to increase enrollment, offer expanded instruction and provide more training in racing techniques. As the result of fund raising efforts (silent auctions) and the generous donations by many loyal supporters, the WLSS has been able to provide adequate salaries and training for its instructors, control the cost of lessons and purchase additional equipment.

2009 to 2011 – Our student enrollment during this period continued to grow. We offered additional classes to teach racing techniques and held weekly SS races. In 2011, we started offering lessons to children as young 7. This was made possible with the addition Opti/Prams sailboats that are very beginner friendly. These boats also have good performance and can be raced competitively. We purchased 4 new Optis in 2011 and will add 4 more in 2012 increasing our fleet to 11. An experienced cadre of instructors were available during this period and lead by 8 year veteran Lindsey Gates.

We are extremely proud of our former/current students and instructors who compete at a very high level wherever the sail. During this period lessons were taught by the following instructors: Graham Allan (’01-’04), Paul Nedeau (’03), Ryan Gates (’00-’05), Andrew Gambel (’05-’08), Cameron McNeil (’00,’07-’08), Ben McNeil (’07-’08), Sam Gill (’08-’11), David Gates (’09-’11), Mats Lindford (’09-’09) and Lindsey Gates (’04-’11).

Don Lundquist and Dan McCormick served on the Board during this period.

The current WLSS board members are Chairman Dick Marvil, Treasurer Chip Sawyer, Secretary Doug McNeil, Dave Bedau, Don Nelson and Bob Currier.

Back to the Top


In 1990 our enrollment grew tremendously, teaching 52 students sailing in our four classes. Nathan Weersing returned as head instructor joined by Matthew Yakes and Ben Sandel. For the first time, the Sailing School had a fleet of seven optimist dinghies to teach on.

1991 had Matthew Yakes return to teach the Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Classics. Heather Drew joined the staff o teach the introduction to sailing program.

In 1992, Joan Pierson Manny, grand-niece of co-founder Loker Chittenden took over the Sailing School as the first female supervisor replacing her husband Skip Manny after his 5 successful years as supervisor. With the help of Brian McMurray new texts were put into the regular program taught by Jim Ellis. Brent Bedau handled all the Introduction to sailing students.

In 1993 marked the re-birth of the Sailing School Room and proved to be a great help to the sailing Instructors Brent Bedau and Dave Fedewa

1994 saw the return of Brent Bedau and David Fedewa to teach the introduction thru adult level classes.

The 1995 season saw the Sailing School on a new course headlong under the Sailing School Advisory Committee chaired by Doug McNeil, an emphasis of, on the water time, showed increased use of the Prams, Students Butterflies and MC’s. Instructor David Fox brought a whole new dimension to our program, and was aided by Heather Milne and Charlie Megan.

David Fox and Charlie Megan returned to instruct for the summer of 1996. Thanks to the generous donation of Dr. Jonathon Penn of a new fleet of four JY 15 sailboats, the students enjoyed the thrill and challenge of a jibbed sailboat. 1997 saw three new Instructors, Jon Durell, Cameron McNeil and Tracey Stevens take command of the Sailing School with the outside consulting assistance of former instructor David Fox The use of a new text “Start Sailing Right” was initiated and a 15 foot Boston Whaler was purchased to help patrol the classes.

The summer of 1998 saw the return of Charlie Megan as head instructor along with Cameron McNeil and Aaron Penn. All of the instructors attended the United States Sailing instructor certificate course in Lake Geneva Wisconsin, a first in the history of the sailing school.

In 1999 all three of our instructors returned to do their usual fine job. Over 80 students, with 100 sessions scheduled, enjoyed being part of WLYC Sailing School.

Back to the Top


1980 introduced a new Advanced curriculum using Steve Colgate’s Text as a basis and emphasizing sail trim, tactics and “go-fast” techniques taught by Chris McNeil, the year’s White Lake champion Brian McMurray returned and David Denison joined tile staff.

1981 brought in Jeff Butterfield to replace David Denison as intermediate instructor. Chris and Brian returned for their second season 1982 saw Jeff Butterfield returning as Intermediate Instructor. Margaret Berry signed on as Elementary Instructor and Rob Twardock as Advanced instructor.

1983 Instructors included Margaret Berry teaching Elementary, Debbie Marvil, Intermediate and Tim Marvil, Advanced. An advanced racing clinic was offered by Doug McNeil. Jack Denison. after 4 successful years as Sailing School Supervisor, turned over the responsibility to Clyde and Kathy LeTarte.

In 1984 a new program for 9-11 year olds was initiated, as well as a racing clinic and sailboard seminar. Instructors were Chad Gould, J.P. Mull, Debbie Marvil and Karl Jacob.

In 1985 Chad Gould returned to head the program and teach Advanced with Karl Jacob and Rick LeTarte teaching Intermediate and Elementary.

In 1986, Tom Wisnom took over as Sailing School supervisor. Chad Gould was again the head instructor teaching the advanced class with J.P Mull and Karl Jacob teaching intermediate and elementary. All were involved with the 9-11 year old program.

1987 “Skip” Manny became the Sailing School’s first second generation supervisor. Chad Gould returned for his fourth year as instructor. Chad taught all three Levels of the school and the 9 – 11 year old introductory program.

In 1988 Chad Gould returned and Summer Chance joined the staff to teach the Introduction to Sailing program. 1989 saw Summer Chance return with Nathan Weersing joining the staff to teach.

Back to the Top


In 1970 the returning veterans were Shelly Hanley, Chris Penn and “Skip” Manny. The new addition to the staff was Tom Getz, Jr. (the fourth member of his family to service the Sailing School staff). The year 1971 found “Skip” Manny, Chris Penn and Tom Getz returning to their usual good job and the new addition to the staff was Ande Holly. In 1972 the Sailing School staff consisted of Tom Getz, Bunny Johnston and Bob Milne. Bunny and Bob returned again in 1973 but Tom Getz was replaced by veteran Ande Holly.

In 1974, Ande Holly returned to do his usual fine job and we had two new instructors serving their first term – Doug McNeil and Scott McMurray.

1975 was of course the great year of celebration for our Sailing School. We had the graduation of our 50th class. Courtney Pitkin, as chairman of the event, brought in the Olympic Gold Medalist Buddy Melges to speak. Buddy was also made an honorary graduate of the WLYC Sailing School and presented with a diploma. He is the only person ever so honored. Our instructors for the season were Doug McNeil, Hilary Davis and Glen McMurray.

In 1976, Doug McNeil and Hilary Davis returned to the staff’ and Joan Pierson instructed the Elementary class. In 1977, Hilary Davis returned as Chief Instructor and completed her third year. Brian McMurray and Sue Holly joined the staff for the first time. 1978 found Sue Holly returning as Chief Instructor completing her second year. Bob Manny and Brad Davis WLYC the new additions to the staff Joan Castelli returned to teach a special course to a large group of adults.

1979 saw our three regular instructors returning but Glen McMurray took over the special adult program from Joan Pierson. After 13 years of guiding the Sailing School as Supervisor, Neil Manny handed over the reins at the end of the season to Jack Denison.

Back to the Top


1960 – Lynn Wegner-Davis, Skip Lothman, Jr., Skip Uhlemann, Alan Jackman
1961 – Robert Fischl, Courtney Pitkin, Jr., Skip Uhlemann, Alan Jackman
1962 – Robert Fischl, Courtney Pitkin, John Burroughs, Mimi Gillen

In addition to the regular courses offered in 1960 and 1961 a special course for wives of E boat sailors was taught by Neil Manny with sixteen enrolled in the class.

In 1963, Jack Denison was made assistant supervisor, and Jon Penn was appointed to instruct the Advanced class, Jon Swenson the Elementary class.

In 1964, Jack Denison succeeded Fred Fischl as supervisor. A new manual was introduced as the basis of the three-year course. “Invitation to Sailing” is the first published text to be used by the the White Lake Sailing School. Instructors were Jon Penn, John Getz, (the third member of his family to serve) and Cade Denison.

1965 – “Gig” Pitkin, Ann Pitkin, Jacques Chatain, Jr. 1966 – Jacques Chatain, Jr., Ann Pitkin, Joe Pitkin, John Milne

In 1967, Past Commodore Neil G. Manny took over as Supervisor of the Sailing School. The staff of instructors included – John Milne, Ann Pitkin & Joe Pitkin with Assistant Instructors – Brud Harvey & Steve Dake.

In 1968 the staff included veterans John Milne and Joe Pitkin and Brud Harvey and Steve Dake moving into full-time instructors. Steve Dake could not complete the season and Shelly Hanley completed the instruction of the intermediate class. In 1969, Brud Harvey and Shelly Hanley returned to the staff and Chris Penn and “Skip” Manny proved their ability as first year instructors. It is worthy of note that “Skip” Manny was the fourth generation of his family to be actively sailing at the White Lake Yacht Club.

Back to the Top


The 1950s started with the Silver Anniversary year of 46 students in the three classes and a grand total of 749 graduates since its inception in 1926. Miss Doddin Hartman (class of 1944) became the first women instructor in 1952 but was quickly followed by Margaret Deyman and Kati Hodgson the following year. In 1952, a specially designed pin was made available through the courtesy of the late Barney F. Deyman as a presentation to each students who had successfully completed all three courses, an award made each year since. In 1959 Fred Fischl succeeded Alvin Youngquist as Supervisor after serving as assistant the previous year. A new decade under his supervision was to begin.

With instructors as follows:
1950 – Bob Christie, Bruce Stewart, Al Youngquist, Jr.
1951 – Bud Hartman, Bill LaNouette, Don McCobb
1952 – Doddin Hartman, Don McCobb, Sam Stewart
1953 – Margaret Deyman, Kati Hodgson, Sam Stewart
1954 – John Deyman, Jack Holloway, Sam Stewart
1955 – Randy Hubler, Nan Sellers, Lynn Wegner
1956 – Randy Hubler, Nan Sellers, Lynn Wegner
1957 – Randy Hubler, Nan Sellers, Lynn Wegner
1958 – Randy Hubler, Dick Marvil, Lynn Wegner
1959 – Alan Jackman, Skip Lothman, Dick Marvil, Skip Uhlemann

Back to the Top


The decade of the 1940s saw Commodore Alvin Youngquist resume duties of Supervisor in 1942. The instruction manual was rewritten the following year. In 1946 the Advanced course was added to the curriculum with 18 students signing up for the first such course; the same year the regular two year course had a record enrollment of 40. In 1948, a third instructor was added to the staff and the three year course divided into Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced to provide smaller classes for instruction. That year a series of short sailing school races was added to stimulate the desire for competitive racing.

At a meeting of the Board of Directors of June 23rd, 1948 Alvin Youngquist was made Honorary Life Member of the Club in recognition of his services to the club and the Sailing School. 1949 stands as the high watermark of the school with 78 students enrolled and 75 graduates. Eleven WLYC mothers of students, one of a grandmother, and six post graduates.

Instructors for the 1940s included:
1940 – Neil Manny
1941 – Neil Manny
1942 – Jim Butterfield
1943 – Lee Holly
1944 – Tom Getz
1945 – Tom Getz, Bruce Stewart
1946 – Lee Holly, Bruce Stewart
1947 – Bruce Stewart, Al Youngquist, Jr.
1948 – Dick Denison, Bruce Stewart, Al Youngquist, Jr.
1949 – Bob Christie, Bruce Stewart, Al Youngquist, Jr.

Back to the Top

1920s & 30s

In the fall and winter of 1925 and ’26, John G. Guerin (Jack), and Clarence E. Pitkin developed a plan to start a Sailing School program. Early in 1926 Jack and Loker Chittenden completed the text for the new school and Loker volunteered to be its first instructor. The course was terminated, as it is now, with a final exam. The successful candidates received their diplomas at the Pirate’s Ball. This method of presenting the diplomas was used until 1933, when the Sailing School had its first graduation exercises.

Mr. Guerin carried on as Sailing School supervisor, assisted by Harry Pillinger, until 1933, when Alvin M. Youngquist succeeded him but was then elected Commodore in 1935. He then appointed Loker Chittenden supervisor with Bill Getz, class of 1927, instructor. In 1936 the Sadony boys and John DeFraga were appointed and served as joint instructors. Mac Butterfield followed in 1937 and ’38 then Neil G. Manny in 1939.

Back to the Top