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Walloon Yacht Club Celebrates 90th Anniversary of 17-square meter Sailboats

17s the focus of community events throughout the summer

In celebration of this summer’s 90th anniversary of the 17-square-meter sailboats — which were first made in Walloon Lake in 1934 — the Walloon 17 Foundation are organizing a series of public events, including:

  • Wednesday, July 17 (starting at 2pm) – a sail around the Village to Michigania; the public can view the activities from Melrose Beach.
  • Saturday, August 3 (starting at 2pm) – a 17 Regatta during the annual Walloon Woodies at The Foot of Walloon Lake
  • Saturday, August 17 (starting at 2pm) – a Media Race around The Foot of Walloon Lake.*

The Crooked Tree District Library (Walloon Lake branch) also has an exhibit on the 17s on display throughout the summer.

About the 17s
The first boat, 17 #1, was built on Walloon over the winter of 1933-34 by Bill Loughlin & Henry (Jordan) Cawthra and she again sails on Walloon Lake after a recent renovation. A total of 42 17s have been built over their 90-year history, first in wood and later in fiberglass. These boats still actively race 17s on Walloon Lake, the only fleet in existence, thanks to the Walloon Yacht Club and its members. The 17 Square Meter is a one-design sailing yacht with a sloop rig and spinnaker with a fixed keel with 850 pounds of cast iron or lead and a 1620-pound sailing displacement. It is 24.9 inches in Length, 5’ 1 ½” in Beam with 17 square meters (183 square feet) of sail area, originally. The Class ensign, a red 17 in a Square indicates the vessels are a Square meter boat versus the 12 Meter Class which has a line under the 12 indicating a linear rule. The 12 Meter class raced for the Americas Cup from 1958-87 and other classes are also designed to the linear International Rule, like the 6 Meter Class. There were other popular Square Meter boats such as the 22 Square Meter.

About the Walloon 17 Foundation
The Walloon 17 Foundation was formed to protect, preserve, and perpetuate the 17 Square Meter Class. This includes the design, the boats, and the history of the 17s. The Foundation sponsors training, races and other events to promote 17s and administers the 17 Class. Members have written several articles on the 17s and in 2017 the Foundation published a coffee table book called Seventeens of Walloon Lake written by Frank Grossi and Bill Bray. The 87-page book includes stunning pictures of the boats in action over the years along with histories of the families who owned the classic sloop sailboats. It is available through the WYC website for $59, with proceeds benefitting the Walloon 17 Foundation. The Foundation invites sailors and Wallooners who appreciate 17s to contribute their knowledge and stories as the group continues finding new techniques to share the history and legacy.


*Media interested in participating in this fun, hands-on, lighthearted competition should contact village publicist Dianna Stampfler at Space is limited.



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