Albert F. Wakefield (Starlights, May, 1969)
Star Class racing on Lake Erie, and in fact all yachting in that area, owes a substantial debt to Commodore Al Wakefield of Vermilion, Ohio. In 1967, the 50th anniversary of his term as Commodore of the Vermilion Boat Club, that organization devoted most of its year book (from which we quote later on this page) to various aspects of his yachting career.
Al Wakefield was listed in the 1922 Star Log, the first ever published, as the owner of No. 32, built in 1919 at Rocky River. 1924 saw the start of his long string of distinguished racing victories when, as Fleet Lieutenant of the Western Lake Erie Fleet, he won the ILYA regatta at Put-In Bay over twelve entries. In 1930 he had a new boat, Crack-O-Dawn, built to his own order by Luedtke in Toledo. The next boat was Awake (No. 1005), a Lorain product by Dusendon, and then Rise and Shine from the same builder. With this boat and Dickery (South Coast) came a steady stream of wins in eliminations, fleet championships, another ILYA, the Rosswurm Trophy, the McGarvey Memorial, and the Fourth District Blue Star Championship.
Meanwhile he had become interested in Class affairs on a world scale and served as the Association's 3rd Vice President from 1945 to 1949, at which time he accepted the chairmanship of a Class Publicity Committee which he himself had proposed and organized. In 1952 he was elected Rear Commodore and the following year Vice Commodore of the Star Class, an office which he held for the next twelve years. During this period he was (and still is) a member of the Advisory Council. Until a few years ago he continued to race actively. In 1963 he served as a judge at the Spring Silver Star championship at Nassau, and in 1969 he attended the final banquet at the Bacardi Trophy series in Florida. From 1942 to 1966 he was a member of the Executive Committee of the N.A.Y.R.U. He is a trustee of the U.S.I.S.A.
The lore of the Great Lakes is strong in the Wakefield family. Through them the family home became the seventh marine museum in the United States. Operated by the Great Lakes Historical Society, the museum has become Vermilion's great contribution to the history of the area.
Commodore Wakefield is today as loyal and devoted a Star enthusiast as he was a half century ago. His last Star was named The Elegant Hour, for that time of the day when, the race over, the participants gather for the cup that toasts the winner and cheers the losers. Many a Star sailor has passed a memorable elegant hour enjoying the hospitality of Al and his gracious wife Lydie at their Vermilion Lagoons home, where the Star was hauled on its own hoist an arm's length from the front porch.