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Vintage San Diego: Welcome to the Club

San Diego Yacht Club in June, 1935


Photo courtesy of the San Diego History Center

San Diego Yacht Club was founded in 1886 by five men who’d realized that the local bay was a great place for boating. Today the club is one of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world, known for producing some of sailing’s top talent. Its first clubhouse stood at the tip of Point Loma on Ballast Point. In 1905, SDYC merged with the Corinthian Yacht Club, whose headquarters were downtown between B and C streets.

Years later, the clubhouse, which had moved into an old ferryboat named Silvergate, relocated across the bay to Coronado, near the ferry landing. Eventually a proper clubhouse, pictured above, was constructed. On January 14, 1934, at the break of dawn, the building was loaded onto two barges and towed across the channel from Coronado to Point Loma. It was maneuvered into place on pilings during high tide. This photo, taken 80 years ago, shows the clubhouse in its current and permanent location at the foot of Talbot Street in Point Loma. SDYC built a new clubhouse in 1963 that, with the exception of a few updates, is the structure that remains today.

The club has evolved in different ways over the years. Women did not become regular members until the 1930s. In 1928, Joe Jessop started the Junior Program, which is considered the best in the country according to a survey taken by fellow yacht clubs. The club hosts regattas about 46 weekends per year. From May 24 to June 3 it will host the College Sailing National Championship, welcoming young sailors from across the country. Main up!

By the Numbers

  • 5,000+ - The club’s current membership
  • 3 Times SDYC has won the America’s Cup, including two victories by famed sailor Dennis Conner
  • 10 - Olympic medals won by SDYC members
  • 4 - Members in the National Sailing Hall of Fame: Lowell North, J. J. Fetter, Mark Reynolds, and Dennis Conner
  • 576 - Boat slips at the club
  • 32°43’05” N / 117°13’43” W - The club’s latitude and longitude
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