The Black Bear Yacht Racing Association Aims for New Prospects with the Message That Fun Comes First

Left to right: Lisa Matthewson, Tom Le Vere and Cathy Huebsch.

Boat racing on White Bear Lake might sound intense and nerve-racking. Knowing how to hoist the sails, turning the boat to port or starboard side and not crashing into the other racers is a lot to handle. However, the folks at Black Bear Yacht Racing Association (BBYRA) don’t see all this as a complicated mess; they see it as a chance to learn, grow and have fun in the sport of sailboat racing.

It all began in the early 1980s when Lloyd and Muriel Bergquist founded the Brigadoon Yacht Club with the idea that it would be an organization for people who loved to sail and who could try their hand at racing. Having dipped their toes and hoisted a sail in one regatta, the club decided to step things up a notch and changed their name to Black Bear Yacht Racing Association in 1984, while encouraging others to come out and try the sport. “It really started primarily as a social club,” BBYRA member Lisa Klopp Mathewson says. “Over the years it started to lean toward teaching non-racers how to race, and now it is a nice balance between the racing and social aspects.”

With roughly 30 to 50 members, the BBYRA consists of three different tiers of membership, which are social, crew and boat owner/racer, with the biggest being social membership. “The simplest way to become involved is to become a social member,” member Tom Le Vere says. “It is the lowest cost and you get a combination, from young people who can’t afford more than that and want to be involved to the older people who are too old to sail, but still love to talk about sailing and love to be close to the water.”

According to the members, the best way to stay connected to the group is to simply attend any one of their social events. “We have one social a month, all year long, at different restaurants throughout White Bear Lake, and after every race we hang out by the docks or at the VFW,” commodore Cathy Huebsch says.

“One of the cool things about anyone who sails is that there is an automatic common ground that you have and can base a discussion around even if it’s somebody new coming into the club,” Le Vere says. “If they love to sail, love sailboats or love the water, they have something to talk about.”

The club holds roughly 30 races from the end of May through the middle of September on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons, with Mother Nature determining the length of each race. “We have a judges’ boat that will determine the course of the race each night based on the wind conditions,” Le Vere says.

Keeping the wind conditions in mind, the judges try to keep the racers out on the water for at least an hour to get their time and money’s worth. However, the racing aspect is not the most important thing to Le Vere or to any member of the BBYRA.

“Being around people with similar interests as your own and being out on the water are the two biggest benefits to this,” Le Vere says. “We are always looking for crew and younger members who are interested or would like to know more about sailing and being out on the water. Come on down on a Tuesday night and just start asking around; we’ll find a place for you.


Tuesday nights
Race starts at 7 p.m.
Be there at 6 p.m. if interested in crewing for a boat or learning the finer points for the course that night.

Saturday afternoons

Race starts at noon
Be there by 11 a.m. if interested in crewing for a boat or learning the finer points for the course that day.

Meet at the docks behind the Keep-Zimmer VFW Post 1782, 4496 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake.

To find out more about the Black Bear Yacht Racing Association and how to become a member, visit their website here. Keep up to date with social events and races by visiting the group’s Facebook page.