In 1964, the old town of Dillon was buried beneath the floodwaters that were to become Lake Dillon. As the lake expanded, so did the interest of the nautically inclined.
John Bailey, who was the mayor of old Dillon, had the first boat on the lake. He ran ran a ski area in the Poconos in Pennsylvania during the winter and managed the Dillon Marina in the summer. His brother, Tink Bailey, worked for him. The marina handled 30-40 boats at docks that were made buoyant by oil barrels. More boats were on moorings accessible by water taxi.
Sunfish fleet #61 raced on the newly formed waters from 1965-67. The wives ran the races from the shore. They used inner tubes with upside down wooden peach baskets, painted orange, for buoys.
The marina was sold to Bill Neuens, Jim Nicholls, Dave Simmons and Norman Petit who then started to sell Ensigns. Norm, who brought the first Ensign from Lake Minnetonka in 1968, explained, "Most guys who bought a boat from us had no idea how to sail. After we sold a boat, we went out and taught them the basics." The Sunfish fleet went from 40 members to nothing over night! Half got into Laser sailing and the other half bought keel boats. A couple of years later, David Ray and Ib Jorgensen started the Santana fleet. (The Ensigns and the Santanas originally raced as one class)
Boats were put in the water with a hired mobile truck crane that would park down by the ramp and literally drop the boat in before the truck would tip over. (Finally, the crane owner learned to chain his mobile truck to the front of his pickup truck so it would not tip.)
Also in 1968, Larry Jump, who had been with the 10th Mountain Division and had started Arapahoe Basin, was involved with the marina. He got together with Ib Jorgensen, Joseph Dion and a few others and formed the Dillon Yacht Club. (Joe Dion had wanted the club to be called the Dillon Corinthian Yacht Club, which meant amateur sportsman.) Membership quickly grew from the original 10 to 12 the first year. They even published applications for the yacht club in the Dillon newspaper.
The main reason for starting the yacht club was centered around the Ski Yachting Championships that was held on Memorial Day weekend. They would race for two days on the lake, then finish out the race at Arapahoe Basin skiing and combine the scores. Afterwards, the summer racing series became organized quickly. Dave Simmons, a training pilot for United Airlines, loved the rules. They would all get together and go over the rules. They had no clubhouse, so they would meet in the basement of a mortgage company in Dillon.
The third year of the Ski Yachting Championship had around 130 boats entered. Joe Dion figured out all the handicaps. The keel boats had been the first to start. By the time the Ensigns' second start was to begin, a huge black wall of clouds released its fury! It began to hail with torrential rain. Five-foot waves and 60-70 mph winds were later reported. After the storm had passed, only two boats still remained with their sails rigged. There were boats on the rocks and some were overturned. Three sailors had to go to the hospital. The following year, it was decided not to start racing that early in the season any more and that ended the Ski Yachting Championships.
The Dillon Open was originally run by John McGann and the Star fleet. He would have the meetings at his house. The Dillon Yacht Club took it over from them around 1973.
Over the years, there have been a variety of different fleets; Ensigns, Capri 25's, Cal 21 and Cal 20's which Dick Zigler, from Canon City, sold. There were Santana 525's Merit 25's and the San Juan 21's of which Ike Kaiser was the dealer.
Presently, the Dillon Yacht Club supports many racing fleets; Stars, J/24's, J/22's, Ensigns, Etchells and a Handicapped fleet. It also has many social members.