By Don Sanford
Lyle Bracker, long time foredeck man on various E Scows skippered by Don Ermer, passed away last Thursday, August 25. A native of Green Bay, Lyle started racing in the late 1960s when he signed on as a crewman (as he often referred to himself) on a friend's Lightning. Within a few years later he had a boat of his own and, with one of his daughters as his regular crew, they were fleet champions for several seasons at the Windjammers Sailing Club on Green Bay.
On a particularly breezy day shortly after he moved to Madison around 1988, Lyle appeared at Burrows looking for a ride, just as my skipper, Don Ermer, showed up looking for a fourth. The rest is history. Lyle instantly became our regular jib trimmer and foredeck man, a position he held for the next twelve years. In those days, as the youngest member of "Team Ermer," I was continually amazed with Lyle's acrobatic ability to scramble up on the pitching foredeck of that E Boat, grab the pole and execute a smooth jibe in both drifters and big winds. Despite whatever turmoil that might be raging around him or the spray that might be rolling over him, Lyle never lost his usual calm, even-tempered and always unflappable disposition.
"I was a competitive swimmer in high school and I just kept at it for the rest of my life," he once told me. Not that we capsized a lot, but it was a skill that occasionally came in handy during his career on our E Boat team. After he retired from competitive sailing around 2000, Lyle stayed active with our club. He was regular at the spring and fall banquets always dressed in his customary blue blazer. On occasion he'd assist Bill Ward on RC1. When he retired from his career as a pharmacist, Lyle joined the Thursday morning breakfast group (Bill Shelton, Jerry Simon, Bill Ward and others) for their weekly confab at Perkins on the east side of town and on excursions to various car and aircraft museums.