History of White Rock Sailing Club

This is a history of White Rock Sailing Club starting in 1935 through 1942). The White Rock Sailing Club (WRSC) broke off from the Dallas Sailing Club (DSC) in 1935. The primary issues seemed to be cost of membership and members' poor behavior. The club was established as the West Shore Sailing Club with a pier on the west side of the lake. The pier was moved to the east side of the lake and the name changed to WRSC later that year. The following accounts provide insight into the first seven years on its operation.

Letter from Bill Sherrill to Fred Deere, January 1988

Sherrill was a member of DSC and a founding member of WRSC. He sailed a Snipe into the 1940s.

I do not know whether you all remember or not, but when we organized the first sailing club on White Rock, we called it the Dallas Sailing Club. Our first pier was on the west side of the lake. Later, we moved to the east side and rented an old building that had been a restaurant and made it into a clubhouse. After a few years, the club had acquired several members that had bad drinking problems, who were unmarried and pretty raunchy. It got so that the members with children and girl friends could not bring them out to the pier especially at night. After so long, if you remember, a bunch of us decided to move out and form our own club. That was when the White Rock Sailing Club was born. For the life of me, I can't remember the exact year, but it had to be about 1938 or 1939. [Date was 1935 based of WRSC archives.] We built a pier where the present pier is now.

These three photos were enclosed in with the letter. The captions are Bill Sherrill's.

DSC west shore pier

"This is the first pier of the White Rock Sailing Club which was on the west side of the lake directly across from the present pier. The second boat from the end of the pier was the cat rigged scow that Pat Tohms and I built. Man! What a tub it was. 
This was before the Snipe Class was started on the Lake. The date of this picture was about 1938 or 39." 

[This photo also appeared in the Dallas Morning News on July 27, 1931 and is the Dallas Sailing Club's pier on the west side of the lake. Sherrill was also an early member of DSC.]


"I am not sure which side of the lake this pier was on, but I know it was one of the first. Maybe you will remember. 
I am pretty sure it was our first pier on the east side of the lake. You will notice it was a floating pier.
Also, notice Snipe no. 9. That alone would date this picture."

[This is probably the DSC pier on the east side of the lake below the Big Thicket.]

WRSC 1940s pier

"This was the way the pier looked sometime in the late 1940s."

[WRSC pre-1952 because the boat houses are still on lake.]



In December, 2004, Gene Soltero provided White Rock Sailing Club's records from when it started in 1935 though 1942 and these are now part of the CSC archives. Frank Richards rummaged through these records and extracted the following. 

Dissatisfied with it's operation, sailors from the Dallas Sailing Club formed the White Rock Sailing Club in 1935. The club was first named the West Shore Sailing Club and bought a pier on the west side of the lake. Later that year, their pier was moved to the east side of the lake and the club was renamed the White Rock Sailing Club. Their story follows.

WRSC Pier 1935

In March 1935, eleven sailors petitioned the Park Board for approval to purchase and recondition a pier (photo) on the west bank of the lake in "Grave Yard Bay about 200 yards south of Frank's Place." Grave Yard Bay is between Jackson Point and Huffman's Point and the grave yard is probably Cox Cemetery. They planned to build a rowboat tender and service a fleet of six to eight sailboats from the pier. Some of the boats were to be moved from other places on the lake, i.e. DSC. The pier was purchased March 26th and transferred to the West Shore Sailing Club on April 5th. 

The West Shore Sailing Club's eleven members elected officers on April 4th with Pat Tohms as their first Commodore and Bill Sherrill as Vice Commodore. By summer, the membership had grown to 14 members who owned 9 Snipes and 2 catboats. The catboat in the photo above is probably Tom Cat. The members were Chester Chamberlin, W. E. Grace, T. G. Hensley, Lloyd Jones, J. Maurice Martin, Franklin Martine, Stanley Naylar, John Nuborn, Largent Parks, Stanley Patterson, Bill Sherrill, Jack Tennent Jr., Pat Tohms, and Stuart Wallace. The names on the summer list are not the same as those on the spring list. Several of the original eleven apparently stayed at DSC.

The West Shore Sailing Club applied for membership in SCIRA (Snipe Class International Sailing Association) much to the association's surprise. On March 23rd, William Crosby, the Snipe designer and SCIRA Executive Secretary, sent back a letter saying it was against their policy to issue new charters in locations where fleets already existed. The association's letter noted that it could cause "a great deal of hard feeling and might ruin the Class racing at Dallas altogether." Crosby's letter went on to encourage the new club to try to work out the problems with DSC and to send him "all the dope on the situation" so that he could help.

On April 4th, SCIRA's Crosby sent a very blunt four page letter to Bill Bracey at DSC summarizing the situation from his perspective. These are a few excerpts from that letter.

"The Association is dead set against issuing a charter to any fleet which must race within the same waters as another fleet…" 
"What in hell is the matter with you guys anyway. You've got the world by the tail. The oldest fleet and probably the best and most active, and yet you can't get together. I blame the Dallas Sailing Club for letting this matter go as far as it has."
"Complaints have been heard about drunks and wild wimmen [sic]. Any yacht club must expect some of this, but there should be a responsible house committee to see that the parties do not get too rough. … All yacht clubs are more or less 'drunk houses' but order is maintained… Your house rules must be too lax."
"Both Hub and I want you guys to get together or you're going to bust up the whole thing sure as guns. With two fleets, neither will amount to anything. With a lot of dissenting members, it won't be long before the Dallas Sailing Club will have no sailors and the darn thing will turn into a night club…" [Hub Issacks, DSCs first commodore, was still in New York.]
"The dope that I received from a number of your members, indicates to me that the Dallas Sailing Club is not up to the mark in several ways. …"

The letter went on to summarize as follows:

"Dallas Sailing Club getting too expensive for some of its best racing men and boats."
"Dallas Sailing Club slowly but surely turning into a night club with boats secondary."
"Dallas Sailing Club evidently headed by men who are more interested in making it attractive to the general public than to sailors."
"Dissenters wrong in trying to organize another fleet and withdraw instead of trying to help the club through voting intelligently for the men who will make the best officers."

"The only thing that I can see is basically wrong is that the club has gotten too big for its pants - the officers are trying to force the thing to grow too fast and have become over ambitious thus driving away their most valuable members - the real sailors. (I understand that approximately 15 sailors may withdraw.)

"As a final bomb - if the majority of Snipe owners desire to have a separate charter, it will be given by this Association. The remaining boats in the club will then race with the new fleet.

"For God's sake straighten it out! Bill"

Crosby's letter pretty well summarizes the stormy beginning of the White Rock Sailing Club. It appears that the charter for Snipe Fleet 1 was moved to the new club and that all of the Snipes on White Rock raced as part of this fleet, including DSC sailors and later CSC Snipe sailors. DSC must have eventually gotten its act together. It was the most prominent club in the news coverage throughout the 1930s and was the biggest club on the lake in the 1940s. By the late 1930s, WRSC and DSC were working together again. Now, back to WRSC history.

In August, 1935, the Park Board asked the club to move its pier and anchorage to the east side of the lake to Big Thicket Bay. The board had received complaints from fishermen and property owners and also wanted to consolidate all mooring in one place. The name of the club was changed to the White Rock Sailing Club at that time. The park moved the pier to the east side of the lake for the club. The floating pier was probably located close to the northeast corner of the lake and the club expanded from that. The initial structure of the permanent dock seemed to be in place by the winter of 1937.

WRSC continued to race with DSC until the summer of 1937, when also they started their own club races. DSC was still hosting the Southwestern Regatta and WRSC was invited to attend, which they did. Plans were made to initiate team races between the two clubs in summer 1938.

WRSC 1938

Richard S. Gozzaldi applied for membership in WRSC and was turned down in 1938 by a vote of 3 for and 4 against. No explanation why. He later became very active in Fleet 1, SCIRA and was Commodore of the fledgling CSC in 1942. Fred Deere, and his wife Bobbie became a members of WRSC in 1938. They were very active in the club and provided a very thorough archive for Snipe Fleet 1 that is now part of CSC's archives. The photo is of club members in April, 1938. Wallace is on the left in the back row. Sherrill is third from the left and Deere second from the right. All these were founding members.

WRSC like most sailing clubs of the time was a men's club. This paradigm changed in the early 1940s.

In 1939, Josephine McClellen inquired about membership in WRSC and received the following response: "It was the opinion of the Club that, since the membership is small and all the necessary work of building and maintaining the pier and keeping the ground is done by the members themselves, it might avoid complications to limit the membership to men who could take part in such duties.

"Trusting that you understand our attitude in this matter, and with regret that we cannot offer you an application for membership in the club at this time." 

The subject surfaced again from within the club in June, 1940. "In connection with the matters raised by the girls club representatives it was voted that the girls club would not be considered as an auxiliary of the White Rock Sailing Club, but that the girls club could identify itself by adding the words 'of the White Rock Sailing Club' to its own name." The club partitioned the Park Board later that year to lower the fees on prams which were deemed to be suitable sailboats for women skippers. Here a few excerpts from the letter. "…sailing has up to now been considered a man's sport. There is … a move on foot amongst the wives and daughters of sailors thru out the United States to share with their men the relaxation of cruising and thrill of racing … as skippers, and petticoat fleets are being born everywhere.

"Heretofore a drawback to the lady skippering has been the lack of a suitable craft … This lack seems now to have been fulfilled by a new design called 'Pram' …


"The Park Board, however, has the power to make or break this program by the license fee which it will exact. …the present $12.50 fee is, if not downright burdensome, at least a major part of their total annual sailing expense. … it is a certainty that 'Pram' will not catch on if the present uniform license is demanded. …request that a special fee be established … in no event to exceed $5.00." The club was building Prams (photo) the next spring and Pram racing followed, so a suitable arrangement must have been worked out with the park. Women had been racing at White Rock almost from the beginning. There had been a women's series as part of the 1932 Southwestern Regatta and women's races were part of many regattas throughout the 30s. The Pram decision seemed to secure the women's position as skippers.

In September 1939, WRSC started discussions with CSC about a race series. [This is the first mention of CSC.] It appears that WRSC and CSC alternated hosting races throughout the 1940 racing season. In 1941, WRSC shared expenses for the Southwestern Regatta with DSC and in 1942, CSC also pitched in. The program indicates the 1942 regatta was cosponsored by all three clubs. WRSC also decided to sponsor series of open Snipe races for boats from all three clubs in addition to their regular club races.

The WRSC facility grew to provide davits for dry storage and a covered deck for shelter from the sun and rain. There was also some storage space, but not a club house. The monthly club meetings were held in members homes during the period from 1935 through 1942. In the Summer of 1942, club membership had grown to 15. DSC had 46 members and CSC 22 that same year.

November, 1942 WRSC minutes - "A special meeting of the White Rock Sailing Club was held [to hear about] …the purposes, requirements, duties, and advantages of membership in the Texas Defense Guard…" December 7, 1942 - Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Roger Hansen provides a little different slant on DSC sailors.