Vice - Commodore - Nici Esch
Commodore Gene Russo
29 Years of Sailing Lake Conroe
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Around 1989, interests began to build in sailing on Lake Conroe, still a very young lake, having been formed in 1973. Gus Behling and Veit Gentry, being avid sailors, thought to start a sort of sailing club mostly to share thoughts about how to do things on their boats, which were built by Catalina. At the time, with little internet, and not much published material floating around, it was to be an information source, a place to share ideas and solutions, how to set shroud tensions right, and proper mast tuning, and a myriad of other topics. It was decided to form a club called the "Lake Conroe Catalina League". Through the diligence of these two, and with a year or two Bob Kotch joining in, other new members began to join. Gus, a World War 2 veteran, made it his personal duty to lurk on the docks at 7 coves marina and button hole sail boat owners, to invite them to join the club (the first time), and ask them why they hadn't joined yet the second time, and imply that his patience had worn thin if they hadn't joined the third time he saw them! Membership fees were $10 per year then, if nothing else, not a bad stipend to fork out just to get Gus off your back!
In those days, the job of "running the show" was more of a "tag, you're it" sort of arrangement. Gus and Veit would sort of trade off being commodore, vice commodore, secretary and treasurer, then Bob Kotch got stuck with all four jobs for several year in a row after which he successfully conned Mike Ferris into doing everything, and then Mike was stuck with it for several years. We elected officers at the Christmas party like we do now, but when the subject came up of who would be the new commodore everyone in the crowd suddenly became deaf and mute,hoping the embarrassing silence would eventually be broken by the sitting "commie" volunteering to do "one more year".
Somewhere in the mid 90's, a problem, if just in nomenclature, emerged, as all brands of perfectly viable sailboats emerged other than Catalina, there were Hunters, Rangers, MacGregors, Beneteau's, and the group through their dogged determination had actually built a pretty fine club with a bad name. Bob, Veit, Mike Ferris, and others took the helm as commodore, and in time it was renamed the "Lake Conroe Sailing Association", a name it still holds today. The club quit using Gus's mimeograph machine to publish it's club letter, with stencils typed judiciously by a "secretary" Gus knew, to evolve to toner and ink on notoriously slow and clunky printers at that time. publishing 4 newsletters a year in living color for 4 events a year was not so bad, except it took a home printer 2 days to print it out. In 1998 annual dues were raised to $20 per year, despite protests that "no one can afford that!" In 1999, Gus declared that the internet was going to doom the club, because "no one uses that computer stuff". Yet we are still here, we are thriving, and who knows, maybe we are just starting our 4th decade and will have several decades more!".