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Yacht club looking for people to come aboard

Sailboats from the yacht club negotiate rough water and strong winds on Ruedi Reservoir last year June 8th, 2004. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.
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The members of the Aspen Yacht Club are looking for some new blood but not necessarily blue blood.

For the first time in ages, the 35-year-old club is actively recruiting members to join its fun and games on Ruedi Reservoir. After an initial recruiting drive to get members when it was founded in 1969, the yacht club has, more often than not, had a waiting list to join, said spokeswoman Margot Pendleton.

But attrition through departures of one type or another has reduced the membership to 60. That leaves plenty of space for newcomers, according to Marci Pattillo, who is enlisting new members.

The club is particularly interested in tapping into a younger generation. Many current members are longtime locals in their 50s and 60s.

“We’re getting gray,” acknowledged Pendleton, a former Aspen councilwoman who recently moved to the Basalt area. She’s been a member of the yacht club for 20-plus years.

There are a lot of younger folks who came to the mountains after growing up with sailing backgrounds on the East or West coasts. The club wants to build awareness among those folks that sailing opportunities do exist at Ruedi.

At the same time it’s mounting the recruitment effort, the Aspen Yacht Club is also trying to clarify its image.

“For people who don’t know about it, it’s kind of a staid group,” said Pendleton.

In reality, the club has a lot of salt-of-the earth people. Pendleton and another club leader, Jinx Stone, for example, are in the construction industry.

Pendleton said club members “can leave their blue blazers at home” and expect to “get their own beer” at the club.

The sailing group’s facilities at Ruedi won’t be mistaken for Aspen’s swank Caribou Club. Nevertheless, the rustic facilities at Ruedi suit the members just fine, said Pattillo.

There’s a clubhouse that’s rigged with a generator and lights, a lawn that handles RVs and tents, four docks with slip space that can be rented for sailboats and a sandy beach that will soon feature a diving platform.

“A lot of people don’t even know [the club is] there,” said Pattillo. The yacht club is tucked away in an out-of-the-way nook along Ruedi 18 miles east of Basalt and about five miles east of the dam. The drought of summer 2002 kept the club high and dry but the water level was perfect last year and is expected to be close to the same this year after the runoff.

The club is hosting an open house on Saturday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to display its facilities and discuss its activities. Members will spiff up the old cabin and grounds during work days June 5-6.

Pattillo said recruits don’t have to own a boat any longer to join the club. They can partake of various activities and crew for members with boats.

The club will host its annual regatta this year on July 17-18. A race series is held every Sunday at noon from mid-June until September. Stone is the reigning champion of the Club Cub. Pendleton won two years ago.

There are several events planned for members who don’t race. There are sailing clinics and something like a scavenger hunt on water.

And, of course, members have been known to enjoy a few cocktails together. Stone acknowledged they’ll have a few beers “when rum isn’t available.”

Memberships are $350 per year. The fate of a historic initiation fee is under debate. Anyone wanting more information can call Marci Pattillo at 384-8905 or log on to the club’s Web site: http://www.aspenyachtclub.com.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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