As I was thinking about the upcoming Ugotta Regatta (Saturday, Aug. 5), I recalled that the Regatta originated back in the early days of Waterville Valley Resort before there was even a body of water on which to float a vessel!
I asked Bruce “Bear” Andrew, longtime Waterville Valley property owner and former manager of Windsor Hill, to refresh my memory about Waterville Valley’s Yacht Club.
According to Bear, before Corcoran Pond became Corcoran Pond, it was a partially excavated pile of dirt. A real eyesore. On a wet spring day in the late 60s, the idea to form a ‘yacht club’ germinated in the lobby of the Tecumseh Inn (now the Silver Fox), which at the time was owned by Todd and Cynthia Baldwin. One of the resort employees jokingly designed a yacht club emblem by designing a snowchicken logo. Another employee embroidered it on a piece of old cloth, and a ‘flag’ was born. A group of Valley employees then decided to hold a dry-land regatta the following Labor Day. The newly formed Waterville Valley Yacht Club was challenged by the Chickenboro Yacht Club (Chickenboro is the name of the small settlement off Route 49 near the Goose Hollow Campground where the Baldwin’s live). The dry-land regatta was held for a couple of years. When the old first fairway of the golf course was turned into tennis courts, members of the Yacht Club created a lighthouse which was moved and “awarded” to a surprised and sometimes reluctant recipient on Easter eve. When “Lake Corcoran” (aka Corcoran Pond) was finally completed, the Yacht Club held a festive dedication with speeches, cannon blasts, a band and an in-water regatta of man-made vessels.
Thus, the modern-day Ugotta Regatta competition was born.
Bob Fries, another former Waterville Valley employee and long-time property owner, was also an original member of the Yacht Club. Bob told me, “Tom Corcoran was always talking about building a pond. The Yacht Club was a spoof because we never thought the pond was going to happen. We had t-shirts made and a party on Easter eve. At midnight, we would have a tow truck from the gas station (formerly in Waterville Valley) haul a culvert with a flash light on top and leave it at a deserving person’s home. Then we’d sing God Bless America. We’d also name a ‘Miss Yacht Club’ each year.”
When Tom Corcoran built the Town Square adjacent to Corcoran Pond, Bob Fries and a partner opened a restaurant on the second level where La Hacienda is now located. They named it The Yacht Club.
I wish I had pictures to share. If anyone has photos or memories of the old Yacht Club, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.