Buddy Melges Sailing Center Officially Opened

Published on July 10th, 2015

Officers, directors, and members from Lake Geneva Yacht Club and the Geneva Lake Sailing School celebrated the official opening of their new facility – Buddy Melges Sailing Center – with a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 3.

The building is located on South Lake Shore Drive in Fontana (WI) on property that the yacht club has occupied since 1926 and where the school began in 1938. The new facility, which contains approximately 12,000 square feet of interior space, houses the sailing school on its first floor and the yacht club on the upper floor.

The entire property, which consists of approximately eight acres of land and includes a number of outbuildings, has been named the Buddy Melges Sailing Center in honor of the club’s most accomplished sailor, whose accolades include Olympic Gold and Bronze Medals, an America’s Cup win, and numerous other sailing championship awards. He was a student at the sailing school in the 1940s and later an instructor.

Briohn Construction Corporation of Brookfield, WI, was the general contractor and builder. The company began work on the property last fall.

“The new Buddy Melges Sailing Center, home of the Lake Geneva Yacht Club and the Geneva Lake Sailing School, is the culmination of many years of planning and represents a significant milestone in the history of these two great organizations,” said the yacht club’s Commodore F. Terrence Blanchard. “We believe the facility will be one of the finest sailing centers in the country and will provide current and future members and students a very special home where we can continue to promote and enjoy the sport of sailing on Geneva Lake.”

This year’s programs at the sailing school started on June 9 and will continue until mid-August. During 2014 more than 400 children and adults from the local community received their certificates. Instructors teach students in six indoor and outdoor classrooms as well as on the water. Fleet racing at the yacht club started later in June.

“The Buddy Melges Sailing Center provides a state-of-the-art facility for the Geneva Lake Sailing School to teach and grow the sport in a safe and enjoyable environment,” said the Geneva Lake Sailing School’s President Thomas Freytag, a top sailor and a graduate of the school. “We are very excited about the future of sailing on Geneva Lake.” Tom Freytag also serves as co-chair, with Past Commodore John D. Simms Jr., of the Buddy Melges Sailing Center Funding Committee and the Building Committee.

Lake Geneva Yacht Club traces its roots to 1874 and the first Sheridan Race, an event established to honor General Philip H. Sheridan during his visit to the area and a highlight on the club’s racing calendar ever since. The first clubhouse was built in 1906 at Cedar Point in Williams Bay. Members of the yacht club founded the Sailing School, which became an independent entity after being incorporated in 1953.

The Lake Geneva Yacht Club is proud to be hosting the Inland Lake Yachting Association Annual Championship Regatta, August 19 to 23. This event, which is expected to attract more than 200 boats, will also be held at Lake Geneva Yacht Club in 2016 and 2017.

Report from ILYA.

Photo caption: (left to right with scissors): Geneva Lake Sailing School President Tom Freytag, Past Commodore John D. Simms Jr., Buddy Melges, Past Commodore Gloria Melges, Commodore F. Terrence Blanchard, and other officers and directors at the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the official opening of the new facility for the Geneva Lake Sailing School and the Lake Geneva Yacht Club. Credit: Michael Moore photo

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