Click on the images to make them larger.Thousands of area residents have enjoyed sailing, getting together, and competing in area regattas under the banner of the PYC. Last year the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The organization offers a summer sailing camp for children ages eight through 14, as well as adult lessons, casual racing on the weekends, and cruising for those who would like to explore the Gulf Coast and visit other yacht clubs along the way. The group has a local membership of around 200. The club often hosts member get-togethers on the weekends under a variety of themes. There are cook-outs, a fishing rodeo, Grill Nights and even a book club.
"Over the years, Pontchartrain Yacht Club has produced many national sailing champions and a few world-class races who have competed in the Adam's Cup (women's nationals), the Mallory Cup (men's nationals), the Lipton Cup, the North American Catamaran Championships, and the Sunfish Worlds," an informative brochure says. Membership is not limited to boat owners.
Situated on a three acre waterfront site, Pontchartrain Yacht Club is located in Mandeville’s historic Lakeshore district, and the grounds offer an unobstructed view of Lake Pontchartrain.
In a recent interview, Frederick S. Ellis recalled the beginning of the yacht club.
"In 1967 or '68 I bought a sailboat," he said, "and brought it over to Mandeville and tied it up in one of Clay Prieto's marina slips. Young Fred Blossman Jr., and Lathan Crandall, who happened to be a psychiatrist at Southeast Hospital, told me they were interested in forming a yacht club.
"They wrote a letter about forming the yacht club and sent it to everyone who owned a boat . We had a meeting that had about ten people in attendance, and we decided that, yes, we were going to form a yacht club.
"Crandall was the prime mover in the effort, but when we got around to getting serious with it, I wrote up the articles and bylaws and we adopted them and elected officers. Lathan was the first Commodore, Fred was the first Vice Commodore, and I was the first Rear Commodore.
"The second year Fred was the Commodore, and I was the vice Commodore. The purpose of the thing was to have races. We joined the Gulf Yachting Assn. and bought two Flying Scot boats. The dues were $6 a month.
"A guy by the name of Oak Smith May had the house on the corner of the lake and the harbor, and he told me we could have the house for what he had in it, which was $1500. So I called Lathan and Fred, and we had lunch together at the Covington Country Club. I told them that this opportunity was too good to pass up, and suggested that we three buy it.
"Then we would have a meeting of the yacht club, and if the club wanted it, we would just transfer it over to them. We did that, and the club bought it directly, so we three didn't even have to buy it. We did have to raise the dues from $6 a month to $10 a month as a result. They painted the house and it became their new home.
"The next year I thought it would be a good idea to put in a swimming pool and join the front house with the two story outbuilding in the rear with a breezeway. When we did all that, membership took off from there. That was around 1970.
"It was really a lot of fun," Ellis commented.
He recalled one proposed project that didn't work out as planned. The Yacht Club found out that the land diagonal from the rear corner, the land behind the current ballfield, was available. "It was a whole square of ground, and the land was kind of swampy and low, so we thought about buying it, dredging it out, and making it into a marina. We would dredge an access channel between the land and the current harbor along the street between the yacht club and ball field.
"Then we'd have our own private marina," he explained. "But it didn't happen because the city wouldn't go along with it." The yacht club has purchased other pieces of property in the area for boat storage.
He left the yacht club in the mid-1970's as his interests turned to other community organizations. "They are doing a nice job now, developing some great sailors, winning races. But back in the early days we didn't really know what we were doing, just having fun doing it.
"I went to the first GYA meeting in Pass Christian, and we learned how to race, what to race," Ellis said.
The Yacht Club Photo Collection
Here are a number of pictures in their photo album from over the years.
Click on the images of the articles to make them larger and more readable.
Pontchartrain Yacht Club Website