Gloria Melges: Setting a very high bar

Published on November 13th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
It was the first ever induction weekend for the National Sailing Hall of Fame, and my wife and I were seated alongside Gloria and Buddy Melges at the celebration dinner. I was awestruck by the company… it was a magical night.

However, the next morning my wife relays how because Gloria and Buddy don’t have email – this was 2011 – they don’t receive Scuttlebutt, so my wife struck a deal with Gloria that I would mail the newsletter to them. Oh my…

Gloria, if you are reading this, I’m sorry for never having mailed the newsletter, but if you are reading this, hopefully you are now receiving it by email. If not, you can subscribe by clicking here.

Also, congratulation on being the first recipient of the Huse Inland Lake Yachting Association Sportsmanship Award. I remain in awe of the standards you’ve set, and offer thanks to the ILYA for providing this report I am proud to share…

Gloria Hailed for Race Committee Work, Coaching, and Grace
The ILYA proudly presented MRS. Melges with the Huse Sportsmanship Award as its inaugural recipient. It was an honor for the standing-room-only crowd to celebrate the service, grace and talent of a famed talent we are all privileged to know.

Few realize Gloria sailed with Harry Melges I (Buddy’s dad), coached Harry Melges II (an Olympic coach according to MR. Melges), extols the praises of Harry Melges III but really wishes she could sail with Harry Melges IV.

Gloria with Harry Melges I.

Gloria has served on international to local race committee teams. The Pan Am games, America’s Cup and national class events have benefited from her expertise. She is an ILYA and US Sailing certified race officer. It is only the past three years she has not been a “regular” on the RC teams for Lake Geneva regattas. Her credentials have set the bar high for any succeeding candidates.

Dr. John DeCarlo, LGYC Commodore welcomed all to this special evening. The honor of bestowing this award to his friend was evident. Dr.Tom Hodgson reviewed the efforts of Gloria over 50 years. Beth Huse represented the Okoboji and Huse families as donors of the marvelous trophy.

Gloria’s impressive sailing resume:
• 1958 ILYA Championship Regatta, winners in Class A at Neenah.
• Crew and skipper with her brother in Columbia Yacht Club’s Colombia dinghies.
• Crew in Chicago in the Star and Dragon fleets and for her brother in the Mackinac Race.
• Crew for Buddy Melges and Harry Sr. at Lake Geneva Yacht Club and Inland events in Classes A, E, and C.
• Crew for Buddy (with Ed Smith and John Shethar Jr.) when they won the 1960 US Men’s Sailing Championship for the Clifford D. Mallory Trophy.
• Crew for Bill Grunow (with Buddy Melges and Melita Grunow) when they won the 1964 Class E National Championship title.

1958 ILYA Championship Regatta, winners in Class A at Neenah: from left, Commodore Pillsbury, Buddy Melges, Ernst Schmidt, Gloria Melges Photo from Ellen Bentsen

Race committee resume:
• Race Committee member starting in the early 1980s for Lake Geneva fleets, later as PRO and race committee recruiter in Class A including the club’s annual Sheridan Prize and Wacker Trophy races.
• Race Committee member at ILYA Championships and national and international events that include a Star World Championship Regatta, Pan American Games, America’s Cup trials, and the 1988 America’s Cup finals (for which she was saluted by the San Diego Yacht Club for her “outstanding contribution” to the event’s success).
• Recognized as a Judge in 1988 by the Inland Lake Yachting Association.
• US Sailing Senior Race Officer.
• ILYA Senior Race Officer [from LGYC yearbook, no years listed].
• Recipient in 1988 and 2011 of Lake Geneva Yacht Club’s Dr. and Mrs. Will F. Lyon Award for Outstanding Race Committee Service.
• LGYC Nominee in 1991 for the US Sailing National Sportsmanship Award.
• Recipient in 2004 of the Ed Malone Judges Trophy, ILYA Race Committee / Judge of the Year. First woman to receive the Malone Trophy.
• Recipient in 2007 of the Bilge Pullers Cannon, which recognizes an outstanding volunteer from the ILYA Race Management Corps. First woman to receive the BP Cannon Trophy.

With a standing ovation, the gracious Gloria addressed the crowd giving husband Buddy a few little playful verbal nudges but expressed her appreciation for such an honor. Her love for the Huse family was evident as she recalled the qualities of the trophy’s namesake which make this award so unique.

Lastly, Buddy could not resist proudly telling the crowd of Gloria’s beauty, keen eye on the water, and ability to analyze and coach him at the highest level. Her innate understanding of the tactics on the boat and on the water makes no one wonder how her prodigy fare so exceptionally in our sport.

The evening was magical in many ways. Gloria is from a time past with a poise and tender manner. The room was aglow with admirers. Her peers were there to celebrate the award. Youth were present to honor her. The intergenerational composition of the attendees exemplified the respect all hold for Gloria Melges. Congratulations to our first Huse Sportsmanship recipient.

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