Where many sailors joined the sailing fraternity as kids or teenagers, William L. Bluhm began his sailing career in his late twenties. After two tours in the United States Navy and acquiring his education at the University of Michigan, majoring in education and administration, he located in the Detroit, Michigan, area to begin his business career in 1961. He was invited to sail on Lake St. Clair, which he relished and being recognized as a good crew, he sailed on a C&C 34 in Port Huron to Mackinac races quite a few times.
Having married and having two sons he hoped would join sailing, Bill moved to Pentwater, Michigan, in 1970. He immediately joined Pentwater Yacht Club, joined committees, and became involved with the Lightning and Sunfish fleets. Bill and his two sons raced regularly in the two fleets. His leadership qualities were recognized early on, both on the water and in the community. He finished his business career as Superintendent of Pentwater Schools.
In 1974, Bill's opportunity to expand his influence among the young came about through the purchase by a local businessman of the America’s Cup 12-Meter, Northern Light. Pentwater became Northern Light’s home port and the owner wanted to day charter her. The owner needed a licensed captain to operate the vessel under Coast Guard regulations, so Bill obtained 50 Ton Master's license and became her captain. This relationship furthered Bill's want to teach the young about sailing, responsibility and rules. The owner was amenable to Bill's stipulation that the vessel be permitted to sail both Mackinac Races and the Queen's Cup. Northern Light sailed all three events from 1974 to 1980, carrying many of the young who would continue with the sport after that period.
Missing having a big boat to continue his career, both with his sons and many other of the trained youngsters, in 1983 Bill purchased the 1968 C&C Redline 41 Condor from Hill Blackett of Chicago Yacht Club. Condor was a known boat, having won the Chicago Yachting Association's Boat of the Year and the prestigious Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC) in 1972. Bill and his sons recruited their crew from the young of Pentwater Yacht Club sailing and raced Condor until 1987, when Bill took a leave of absence to sail out to the East Coast and the Bahamas.
When Bill returned with Condor to Pentwater, he took up where he left off, again recruiting and training the young. In addition to this, he also continued serving the club, becoming Commodore in 2000, and served on every committee of the club through the years. He established a rules and sailing seminar which continues at Pentwater Yacht Club every year.
Bill stays active in small boats. He has sailed with his son, David, on an Ensign since 2005. Three generations can be seen on this vessel regularly. Together they have won six Season Championships at Pentwater Yacht Club. In 2014 Pentwater Yacht Club hosted the Ensign National Championship and Bill was right up there, involved as race committee coordinator and chair of the protest committee.
Bill gave Condor to his sons, David and Stephen, in late 2012, and after a three year reconstruction she returned to the water in 2016. He still enjoys sailing on her. At the time of Bill's induction into the Sailing Hall Of Fame he had reached 83 years of age and it is the hope of all Pentwater Yacht Club members he'll be around for another 80.
Welcome William L. Bluhm to Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation's Lake Michigan Sailing Hall Of Fame.
June 20, 2016
Pentwater Yacht Club