Skimming along on a peaceful day or determined as a hungry gull after a fish in a 50 knot wind, the Kittiwake is true to her name, according to her proud owners.
The first Kittiwake fleet was established at the Oklahoma City Boat Club January 30, 1970, taking its place as the first fleet of its kind in the nation. The Fleet No. 1 charter hangs on the walls of the club, which is located on the shores of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.
Built by Kenner Boat Company in Knoxville, Arkansas, the first two boats of the fleet were purchased by Drs. Asbury Smith and Coye W. McClure. Smith was building a Southcoast 23 at the time but was talked into trading his hull for a Kittiwake hull (obviously he knew a better boat when he saw one) and stirred up several well-known boat connisseurs into doing likewise when he returned with his purchase to OCBC.
Among those connisseurs were Dr. Nolen Armstrong, Bill Brooks, Carlton Chapman, Larry Franklin, Don Lake, William Schumann, Dr. Fred Summers and McClure. Together, they applied for and received the first fleet charter.
From a not so modest beginning, the fleet grew to number 15 boats at one time, although it has dropped off some now.
Each year, with one or two exceptions, the fleet has held its annual fleet championships. the four-race battle always ended in the winner being awarded a beautiful silver trophy and the persistent sternwatcher receiving a somewhat less than beautiful rubber chicken.
Some winners of the trophy include Smith, Franklin, Lake and Jim Carson. Winners of the chicken include some of the above plus Bob Hale and Schumann. Besides sailing Hefner, two of the OCBC Kittiwakers (Schumann and Hale) ventured into the Gulf last summer and found the 2' 10" draft of the Kittiwake a plus in the Intercoastal Waterway and the 3700 pounds a plus when the wind and waves got a bit nasty in Offut's Bayou.
Current fleet members include Bob Hale, Bill Schumann, Bill Brooks, Paul Silverstein, Dean Williams, Virgil Tucker, Jim Carson and Frank Courbois. The fleet captain is Bob Hale and fleet secretary is Bill Brooks.