November, 2015 – Something is in the Water at Torch Lake, MI

If you are wondering how we ended up with the 2016 Nationals at Torch Lake, read on…

Mary Gorgen Johanson, one of the 2016 A Scow Nationals organizers at Torch Lake Yacht Club (TLYCC), is no stranger to scow sailing – she grew up on Pewaukee Lake in WI. She and her husband Pete now live in Michigan where they have raced E scows with Pete’s brother Steve Johanson (a frequent E Blue Chip qualifier).

At a recent E Blue Chip, while talking with NCASA Executive Director Todd Haines, Mary got the idea to campaign for hosting an A Nationals at Torch. Todd presented the idea to the NCASA Board meeting that winter, but the Board decided that the fleet needed to support lakes with existing A Scow fleets before branching out.

The next June at an E Scow regatta at Wawasee, IN, Lon Schoor brought his A Scow (Split Decision – now owned by Clint Hoppes on Grand Lake of the Cherokees, north of Tulsa, OK), in hopes of selling it (great marketing idea Lon!). Mary joked with Pete that they should buy it and start a fleet on Torch. Within ten minutes Pete had already called two potential partners to talk them into the idea.

It took another month to get everything organized with the partners and find a boat that would work. Pete traveled to the 2014 ILYA Championship at Oshkosh to pick up their new boat. He took a picture and sent it to Mary’s Dad (Chuck Gorgen) with the caption “I didn’t buy your daughter a diamond ring but I got her this A boat instead”. The response was not unexpected for a scow family: “I bet she likes that better than a diamond ring anyway.”

Once they had the boat in the water, the Johanson’s got to work taking other TLYCC members out in hopes of luring a few other members into buying a second one. Pete stayed in contact over the winter with potential owners from TLYCC and researched used boats that were for sale. Now with a one boat “fleet” at Torch, Todd pitched the NCASA Board again, and this time they enthusiastically awarded the 2016 National Championship Regatta to Torch Lake.

With the regatta award, A Scow fever started to spread at TLYCC. Syndicates were formed, and two more A’s arrived from Oshkosh in July of 2015. The first TLYCC A Scow Club race was held in August and people came out in droves to watch the historic start. The race was started using the old cannon the Club used to use to start races more than 50 years.

Mary reports that the introduction of the A Scow at Torch has really gotten Club members excited and this has revitalized sailors and spectators alike. In fact, an E boater from Spring Lake, MI was on board one day, and he has already started looking into boats, with the initial hope to charter one for the 2016 Nationals.

“I want all NCASA members to know that TLYCC is beyond excited to be hosting this event. We know how difficult it is to pack these things up and we are not a short drive. We appreciate all the effort people are making to get to this regatta and we will work hard to make sure everyone has a great time. If you haven’t been to Torch before, it is the most beautiful lake you will ever see and I think people will be surprised by Northern Michigan and all it has to offer”, said Mary. We couldn’t agree more.

This Thanksgiving Day we are especially thankful to the Johanson’s and everyone at TLYCC for their support of A Scow sailing! We are all looking forward to a great event June 24-26, 2016.

Preliminary regatta information is online now at