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Photo Submitted by Tammy O’Brien: The Twin Lakes Sailing Association has nearly 40 active Hobie Wave sailing catamarans participating in its summer festivities.

TWIN LAKES — For nearly 50 years, area residents have enjoyed good boating — and each other’s company — on the waters of Twin Lakes during the summer months.

Thanks to a recent surge of interest, it looks like the Twin Lakes Sailing Association isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

A popular 2022 season ended successfully here last Sunday. Nearly 40 Hobie Wave sailing catamarans are now active in the TLSA according to Neil VanGundy, one of the original members and record holder of the group dating back to the 1970s.

“The TLSA is first and foremost a non-profit social organization,” said VanGundy, a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate and current Twin Lakes resident. “Half the members have sailboats and the other half take part in social activities.

“The TLSA was founded in 1974. Just to make sure it got off to a good start, they formed a dealership to purchase 40 Sunfish sailboats to sell at cost to friends and neighbors. They were Sunfish’s first distributor in the world in 1974. Some of those original boats are still on Twin Lakes, having changed hands over the years.

Photo submitted by Tammy O’Brien: Merle Bloom of Fort Dodge will be the commodore of the TLSA in 2023, replacing Bill Stephenson at the helm.

According to VanGundy, the first official TLSA race was held on May 26, 1975. The main boat class at the time was the Sunfish.

“Over the years the TLSA has supported other boat classes including the Force Five, the Sweet 16 and its newest class, the Hobie Wave,” VanGundy said. “The first Hobie Wave races were held in 2019, with around five boats competing regularly (at its inception).”

The group – which uses Treman Park as a base – recently held competitive sailing regattas on August 7 and 21, with a lighter intention “hustle in a sailboat” event on July 31. The year-end awards banquet will be held this Saturday at the parking lot south of Twin Lakes Traditions.

“Our main objective is the socialization of our lake community”, said TLSA member Ryan Hildreth, a Rockwell-City Lytton graduate who currently lives in Twin Lakes. “We believe we have the largest fleet of Hobie Wave catamarans in the world.”

This year’s TLSA Commodore was Bill Stephenson, a former Fort Dodge resident who now lives in Twin Lakes. Merle Bloom, owner of Mike’s Pest Control in Fort Dodge, will take over as Commodore in 2023.

“Bill bought some good used sailboats in the Midwest and then sold them at cost to TLSA members and local friends,” VanGundy said. “There are now 40 Hobie Wave sailboats on Twin Lakes and growing.”

VanGundy emphasized the inclusive nature — and family atmosphere — of the group.

“TLSA membership does not require you to sail,” VanGundy said. “In fact, many members don’t even have sailboats. The TLSA is a social organization for families in the lake community.

“Each sailing event is followed by a social (gathering), open to all TLSA members and their families.”

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