1901 – The South Coast Yacht Club
In 1901 a group of avid sailors and power boatmen met in an office in downtown Los Angeles to discuss the formation of a brand new yacht club. A month later the South Coast Yacht Club, as it was known back then, was founded. Twenty years later, the South Coast Yacht Club consolidated with the Los Angeles Motor Boat Club forming the Los Angeles Yacht Club and moved into the California Yacht Club facility.
The first officers of the club were Howard Dodge as President of the Corporation and Commodore and Joe Pugh as Vice Commodore, and Eugene “Fritz” Overton and Secretary-Treasurer. The first expenditure authorized by the new board was for a “shed” on terminal island that was to be used as the clubhouse for an outlay or thirty five dollars. Added to this was the space of the “Catalina Yacht Club”, rented from the Salt Lake Railroad, and a locker house on a pier next to Joe Fellows Yacht and Launch Companyon the north side of Terminal island facing the small-boat anchorage amongst the mud flats of East Basin.
1906 – The New Clubhouse
In 1903, a decision was made to move trom the not too satisfactory railroad terminal area and a search began for land upon which to build a fine clubhouse.
In January 1904, the center lot of three on the bluff bounded by 21st, 22nd, and Mesa streets in San Pedro was purchased. At the same time, the club bettered their Terminal situation by leasing the Terminal Tavern, and at last had space for meetings, eating and liides residential accommodations.
The acquisition of so much property caused the directors to reform the club as a social club, which was accomplished by reincorporating in 1905.
The building contract for the new club on the bluff was let in May 1906 and the first meeting was held February 9, 1907.
The clubhouse was a large single story building with a large main room, galley laid out by the chef of the Jonathan club, several sleeping rooms and an attic bunk room. The architect charged 1% or forty dollars for his effort.
A landing and pier were established at the base of the bluff in the area just north of the present 22nd street, where the new 22nd st. Park is located today. The land was filled later and the landing moved to what is now the Cabrillo Marina. This fill created a difficult situation as the yachtsmen not only had to walk the 100 steps of the cliff stairway, but also across ¼ mile of mud on a two-planked pathway. History accents the difficulty, as the members were often loaded with gear and conviviality.
A board and batten boathouse with a veranda all around was built on piling and contained a caretaker’s quarters and a meeting room, Here the famous and malodorous Finn, Axel Vital, held forth at one time. Later, access was gained through the Mesa Street gate of Fort MacArthur and down the cliff to the locker area now removed by the construction of the Cabrillo Marina. This old club facility was less than three blocks from where the club is presently located at the edge of the new Cabrillo Marina.
1906 – Transpacific Race
In 1906 the South Coast Yacht Club (LAYC) staged the first race of what has become one of the most famous long distance ocean racing yacht events. The Transpacific (Transpac) Race, which in turn gave substance to the Transpacific Yacht Club, was formed in 1928. Clarence McFarlane of Honolulu had been corresponding with California yachtsmen for some time regarding a race from the mainland to Honolulu. In March 1906, he sailed his 48 foot schooner ‘La Paloma’ to San Francisco, only to find that the great earthquake and fire had just occurred. He then sailed to San Pedro, where he met with H.H. Sinclair, Commodore of the South Coast Yacht Club and owner of the 86” schooner ‘Lurline’ and Charles L. Tutt, owner of the ketch ‘Anemone.’ The race was started June 11, 1906 from San Pedro Bay to Diamond Head. It was fitting that Commodore Sinclair won the first race. Los Angeles Yacht Club has participated in every race since, the only club to do so, and has been a host club for most of the race starts and many of the Tahiti races. LAYC has manned the starting line for every Transpac race since 1941. 2019 marked the 50th running of The Transpac Race.
1936 – Move to Fish Harbor
In 1936, the Los Angeles Yacht Club separated from the California Yacht Club and took a lease at its Fish Harbor Location on Terminal Island. The clubhouse was finished in April 1937. It is to be remembered that, among the separate and combined club activities of the fourteen years the Los Angeles Yacht Club was with the California Yacht Club, it maintained its organization, charged dues and jointly ran its own special island races and mixed cruises. The club also participated in the California Yacht Club sail racing affairs but members flew their burgee of choice. The Los Angeles Yacht Club evolved into an almost purely sailing fraternity within the California Yacht Club facility and numbered almost all of the sailors on its roster.
1993 – Move to Cabrillo Marina in San Pedro
With the development of commercial shipping interest throughout Terminal Island, Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors, the Fish Harbor location of the club became undesirable. Following literally decades of protracted work with the Harbor Department, the club moved to its current location on the edge of Cabrillo Marina for opening day in February 1993. The current location features access to the front row of the marina along with plenty of parking. The clubhouse itself, in the dining room, bar and library, displays a great collection of the classic and current sailing trophies, ship models and half hulls from racers spanning the more than 117 year history of the club.