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Lake Canyon Yacht Club History

Founded in 1967

The Lake Canyon Yacht Club was founded on March 6, 1967 by a group of twenty men, most of whom were members of the Woodlawn Sailing Club of San Antonio. As kids, many had raced Snipes or Penguins on that small, shallow body of water since the late 1930s. In 1958 construction of a dam began at mile 303 of the Guadalupe River. The Woodlawn sailors were also beginning to imagine a deep-water marina somewhere along the shores of the future reservoir created by the dam. Leif Zars was the driving force and master planner. By June 1964 the dam was completed and water impoundment began. By 1965/66 there was enough water for the trio of Leif Zars, Bubba Horner and Willie Rotzler to somehow launch a boat and explore the developing coastline for a suitable spot for a marina. The north shore was deemed the most protected location. As luck would have it, Leonard Reip, the service manager for Gary Pools (owned by Leif Zars) had an 8.7 acre parcel of land on the north shore that he was interested in selling. On March 27, 1967 the land was purchased, with each of the 20 charter members contributing $3,000 in exchange for title to a cabana lot on the property.

Lake Canyon Yacht Club – 1974

Lake Canyon Yacht Club – 1980

Getting A Lease

The one missing piece of the puzzle was access to the newly formed lake. Until and unless permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was granted, the 20 charter members of LCYC had just invested in a subdivision. Of benefit to the fledgling club were the unique backgrounds of its charter members. Colonel Bill Pfeil had Washington D.C. contacts with the Corps that kept the paperwork moving at that end. Wally Walsdorf enlisted the support of U.S. Congressman Henry B. Gonzales. Architect Phil Shoop drew a detailed site development plan. His main challenges were dealing with the steep grade from the clubhouse level to the lake and creating space for parking. Leif Zars and Wally Walsdorf met with the Corps in their regional Ft. Worth office. Wally continually stressed that LCYC was not to be envisioned as “just a boat club,” but rather a properly endorsed yacht club with reciprocity to other such organizations throughout the U.S. By July 1967 a draft lease was in hand, however final language was not in place until January 1968. On the 1st of that month a 25-year lease was granted by the U.S. Corps of Engineers to the Lake Canyon Yacht Club. Final documents were signed on Feburary 15th by Commodore Leif Zars and witnessed by Secretary Phil Shoop. The dream of deep-water sailing was a reality.

Marina Growth

As you look at the LCYC marina today, step back in time and try to imagine there being nothing but water. The site plan designed by Phil Shoop was beautiful on paper. Converting it to reality would take both man power, money and the talents of the charter members. Access to the lake was a priority. Frank Riesenecker regraded the lot to create a more gentle slope, however that first launch ramp was much steeper than the 19 degrees of today. Frank also built the club’s first superdock which was put together at Jacob’s Creek and then towed to LCYC. Ten boat slips were added next. A general liability policy was purchased at the insistence of Ed Yerger, a Fireman’s Insurance executive. There was no breakwater. The club tied boats to moorings constructed out of old elevator cables. Used telephone poles, bundled and chained together by club members, comprised the first “state of the art” breakwater, but by 1974 the poles were breaking apart. At UT a new kind of tire breakwater was being designed. In 1976 the Corps approved the installation of 100 feet of the experimental breakwater. Needing to extend the length of its waterfront, in 1978 LCYC purchased .78 acres at its east boundary for that purpose. The Corps in 1979 approved construction of a tire breakwater as well as 24 slips, today’s A-Dock. During this time the mooring field was also upgraded. B-Dock slips were approved and installed over the next two years. By 1981 a complete breakwater was in place. Maintenance of the structure was a nightmare. The tires filled with silt, shells and fish. Sections broke apart during storms, causing damage to boats and docks. In 1987 the entire breakwater was disassembled, cleaned and rebuilt. Once again, club members pitched in. In 1995 the Corps approved construction of 26 new slips and 10 more in 1996 (C-Dock).

Lake Canyon Yacht Club – 1982

Lake Canyon Yacht Club – 1993

Rebuilding the Breakwater

The breakwater, on the other hand, was failing. Two storms in 1995 and one in 1997 resulted in insurance claims. By 1997 Docks and Grounds Chair Barry Parkoff was stressing the need for an effective breakwater of an entirely new design. At a June meeting, members approved $275,000 for the new structure. The project was contracted to Marine Development, Inc., the company that continues to help the D&G crew maintain the LCYC marina.By the end of September 1997 LCYC had a new breakwater, new slips at the end of B-Dock and Corps approval for 20 more slips to replace the mooring field. In 2000 the membership approved funds for MDI to replace the rapidly disintegrating superdock.

Today’s Marina

Realizing that a functioning marina was paramount to the continued existence of LCYC, the Long Range Planning Committee in 2002 proposed to the Board a Marina Relocation Project (MRP). Beginning in 2004, the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) would begin pumping Canyon Lake water to areas west of the lake. That, combined with possible drought conditions, would result in A-Dock and its berthed boats sitting on the lake bottom. In September of that year the Board approved a plan to move the breakwater 180 feet further out to assure safe harbor navigation. Additionally, anchors and cables would be replaced, A-Dock slips would be removed due to age and metal fatigue and a new D-Dock would be constructed.

As conditions allowed, the launch ramp would also be extended. At a cost of $527,974 the project would reach completion over several years. Upon recommendations from the MRP Committee, the Board in 2009 approved replacing the 45° angle of the breakwater with a 90° angle for the creation of more interior space when the docks would be relocated. Ever lower water led to another ramp extension in August. With the advent of the Randolph JBSA moving its marina into deeper water, MDI was charged with removing the dogleg in the ramp walkway in order to create more space between the two facilities. Over several weeks in 2011 old B-Dock slips were replaced and deep water D-Dock slips installed. Lastly, fingers from the old B-Dock were reconfigured to create a new Youth Dock. A 9 year project from start to finish, this is the marina club members enjoy today.

Lake Canyon Yacht Club – 1997

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