The year was 2002. Original Marco Island Model Yacht Club (MIMYC) Commodore George Domenech and a couple of tennis-playing friends were finishing their weekly match when they got into a discussion about model sailboat racing. They had been having some fun sailing their radio controlled Victoria’s on Saturday afternoons on the canal behind one of their houses. George had a Skandia model that he had built and sailed while living in Boca Raton, but he had never looked into model sailboat racing after he moved to Marco Island. The following Saturday, George joined his friends and sailed his Skandia against their Victoria’s. The newer Victoria’s technology was too much for George’s old Skandia and he didn’t win one race; he left that afternoon and told them he would be back soon with a new boat.
Several weeks later, the November 2002 issue of the American Model Yachting Association (AMYA) magazine arrived in George’s mailbox with a feature article about the RC Laser. George had found his new boat that he was sure would run circles around theVictorias!! Sure enough, when George joined the guys the next weekend, the Laser proved to be too much for the Victorias. It wasn’t long before his friends purchased RC Lasers and before you knew it, there were six Lasers fiercely competing against each other!
It was getting a little crowded in the canal so George looked around and thought that the pond at Marco Island’s Mackle Park would be the perfect place to sail the RC Laser and to grow the fleet. There was already a tiki hut there where they could gather and soon there were 10 boats racing every Sunday afternoon. They had to race close the shoreline because the buoys had to be tossed out as far as they could get them into the pond. A meeting was called with the Director of the Marco Island Parks and Recreation and permission was received to install several fixed buoys as well as a small platform dock from which to launch the boats.
From these simple beginnings, the MIMYC was officially incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2003, with founding members Tom Schwartzburg, John Moulten, Jim Karter, Nic Nicolson, John Gerig, Mark Crooks and George Domenech, who was elected Commodore. The club continued to grow and soon there were 15 members sailing twice a week on the Mackle Park pond. Word of this growing club spread and later that year, Steve Lang, the then regional distributor of the RC Laser, asked George if the MIMYC would be interested in hosting a major regatta. In March 2004, the first annual Marco Island RC Laser Mid-Winter Championship Regatta was held with participants from across the US as well as from the Bahamas and the United Kingdom. Everyone loved coming to our island paradise in the winter and especially enjoyed the venue.
In 2009, vandalism sent the tiki hut up in flames and some of our (aging) members were having trouble negotiating the platform dock. Another meeting was called with the Parks and Recreation Director to discuss building a more substantial, fireproof pavilion and a launching dock. New member Rocky Cale drew up elaborate plans for a larger floating dock and ramp; his design was met with skepticism by many of the members who did not believe the City would fund this. Rocky, however, was of the opinion that it “didn’t hurt to ask” and the Parks and Recreation Director, happy to see the pond used for such a great activity and especially pleased by the interest and tourism generated by the annual regatta, approved all the requests and, in addition, added a small viewing grandstand! Because of this, our venue is now the envy of most RC Laser clubs.
Helping the club prosper has been a team effort with much credit going to Rocky and Mary Lee Cale who have helped to grow and improve the annual Marco Island RC Laser Mid-Winter Championship Regatta - the longest running RC Laser Regatta in the country, of which the MIMYC is especially proud! In March 2023, at the 19th Annual RC Laser Mid-Winter Championship, this area of Mackle Park was officially named the Cale Model Yacht Sailing Center.