The history of Lake Davenport is closely linked to the history of the river boat days, so it is natural that boating started early in the area’s development. The earliest known ancestor of all pleasure boating groups was the Davenport Boat Club, a group of shell racers. The club was organized in July,1878 and had 150 members. In their heyday, 1878 to 1892, the Boat Club distinguished themselves in state and national regattas.
It was the construction in 1934 of Lock and Dam 15, creating a relatively quiet pool of water which made a resurgence of interest in sailing possible on the new Lake Davenport. In 1935, eleven sailors met at Lindsay Boat Club with Burdick Richardson as its first Commodore. The founders were intent on serious, competitive racing. They soon recognized the advantages of one design racing and the Snipe class was introduced. Lew Shorey, the second Commodore, took most of the trophies, along with John Hayward.
The Second World War drastically curtailed Sailing Club activities. In 1947, Dick Duley joined the Club with only four active boats. Two years later, the Lightning fleet had seven boats. The Club was coming of age. Lake Davenport incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1951. The first C Scow, a 20-foot scow, was introduced in 1957. Tom Getz quickly became a leader in the scows.
The highlight of all activities at Lake Davenport is the annual Polar Bear Regatta. The Lightning fleet started the regatta in 1960, but today only MC’s and C’s share in the fun. Typically 35 C’s and 20 MC sailboats register for the races. In the past, racers have come from New York, Florida, California, Texas, and throughout the Midwest. Trophies, which are distinguished with a ceramic Polar Bear, are awarded for classes and age groups.