Founded in 1872, SBYC is the second oldest yacht club on the West Coast of North America. SBYC is a family-orientated club, rich with history and tradition. SBYC is devoted to promoting and managing yachting activities while being mindful of their important role in the Santa Barbara community. The Santa Barbara Youth Sailing Foundation (SBYSF) is funded by an endowment created by SBYC members and currently provides sailing lessons and scholarships to local children. SBYC annually hosts the Charity Regatta which has raised over $2 million dollars for VNA Health; a non-profit organization dedicated to serving our residents suffering from terminal illness. The Breakwater Flag Project, managed by both the waterfront department and SBYC, facilitates a cheerful display of flags from Santa Barbara charities. SBYC will host a milestone event, “Blessing of the Fleet”, during their 150th Opening Day, Saturday, April 2nd, 2022. The best location to view the blessing will be on the Breakwater or on Stearns Wharf.
Be sure to check out the SBYC display at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
Blessing of the fleet
What: This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club (and Stearns Wharf). The Santa Barbara Yacht Club would like to celebrate this milestone with an all-fleet blessing. The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition that began centuries ago in the fishing communities of the Mediterranean. Father Larry Gosselin ofm along with Father Dan Lackie ofm, of the Old Mission Santa Barbara, will bless both commercial and pleasure vessels.
Who: Any commercial or pleasure vessel that would like to be blessed by Fr. Larry Gosselin ofm and Fr. Dan Lackie ofm.
Where: Fr. Gosselin ofm and Fr. Lackie ofm will be moored on a vessel on the southern end of the Stearns Wharf.
Participants will pass the stern of that vessel.
When: Saturday, April 2nd, 2022, 11:30 AM
How: Please contact Communications Director, Barbara Hernandez if you plan to attend the Blessing of the Fleet by emailing her at [email protected]
Stearns Wharf Celebrates 150 Years Too
To celebrate Stearns Wharf’s 150th birthday, Wharf Merchants are offering specials on the first Wednesday of every month in 2022. Stay tuned to https://stearnswharf.org/stearns-wharf-to-celebrate-150th-anniversary/ for further announcements on music and other events that will take place throughout the year. Stearns Wharf's big anniversary bash will be on Saturday, October 8th.
Santa Barbara Yacht Club History
Just seven years following the conclusion of the Civil War, organized yachting came to Santa Barbara. According to the bible of all things maritime, Lloyd’s Register of American Yachts, the Santa Barbara Yacht Club was formed in 1872, although not formally incorporated until May 5, 1887. This was a time before the first Southern Pacific train reached the city and State Street was a graded dirt thoroughfare with boardwalks lighted by gas imported from San Francisco. In the world of yachting this was the beginning of the “golden age” with the first race for the America’s Cup in 1870.
The proximity of the town to the ocean gave rise to an emerging consciousness of the joys of water sports and sailing, just as it was doing on San Francisco Bay. The sport of sailing rapidly spread to every seaport in the country, from the sophisticated east coast to the shores of the Pacific and the picturesque town of Santa Barbara. In 1872, stimulated by an influx of eastern visitors, the businessmen awakened to the area’s potential. A chamber of commerce was formed under the name of the Immigration Bureau and the first item on the agenda was the formation of a tourist hotel - The Arlington.
A mule car line was established between the waterfront and the site of the proposed hotel. The long isolation of the community was broken with the completion of a substantial wharf named for its builder, John B Stearns. Ships could then load their passengers without rowing them ashore.
The original clubhouse, as far as the records show, was a 35 x 20 foot building at the foot of Stearns Wharf on the west side. During the building of the wharf, this was the house of John Stearns. The southeast corner of the building was occupied by a galley with a wood stove. The southwest corner was a “head” with a pipe leading to the beach below. A battered piano stood in the northeast corner. The membership totaled 50.
In the summer of 1921, a survey was organized by the Yacht Club to determine if and where it would be possible to have a yacht harbor. The firm of Hill & Co. of San Francisco was hired to make the survey, for which they were paid $3,500 by the club. The Bird Refuge was recommended, with the alternative opposite Castle Rock (Castille Point) where it is today.
About Christmas, 1924, in a southeast gale, the clubhouse was washed out to sea. In early 1925, Messrs. Fleischmann, Storke, Murphy and Spaulding said they would have a clubhouse built on Stearns Wharf and leased to the club. This clubhouse opened in 1926, and it stood where the Harbor restaurant is located today. From 1921-1929, a regatta was held every year. In 1925, the Southern California Yachting Association (SCYA) Regatta was scheduled. SCYA offered to call it off becuase of the earthquake damage. The club said it was willing to put it on if the visitors didn’t mind a few inconveniences. The regatta, that year, was the biggest and best. The banquet, ball and distribution of prizes was held at the La Cumbre Country Club.
In 1926, Major Fleischmann offered financial help for the construction of a suitable harbor. In spite of previous advice, the city recommended the harbor be built in its present location. A bond issue was approved in 1926 for $250,000 for a 1,000 foot breakwater and work started in January 1927. When work was eventually completed the length was 2,435 feet at a cost of $775,000.
A few of the yachts owned by the club members, and moored within the new harbor, were “Haida” 110 ft., “Faith” 106 ft., “Malibu” 100 ft., “Patolita” 82 ft., “Radio” 110 ft., “Westward” 68 ft., “Hafje” 58 ft., “Navigator” 78 ft., “Zingara” 65ft., “Caprice” 65 ft., “Wymitch” and “Bayadere”, both about 50 ft.
During 1927 and 1928, the club was housed in a wooden 2-story house east of the wharf located at 509 E. Cabrillo (now Palm Park). In 1928, the club vacated the building and it was moved to where it now stands at 431 Corona Del Mar.
The 1930’s were a rocky period for the Club. Generally poor conduct on the part of a few members threatened to collapse the Club. The yachtsmen who had dropped out because of this were induced to come back and the club was reorganized. Those not interested in yachting were for the most part dropped from the membership. 1937 saw a repeat of the 1932 problem by non-yachtsmen members.
In March 1938, the Club was again reorganized and renamed the “Channel Corinthian Yacht Club.” Major Fleischmann, Tom Crawford and A. C. Postel were instrumental in reorganizing and merging with the remnants of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club. The agreement was finalized on June 20, 1940. The clubhouse was a one room shack on the eastside of the Stearns Wharf, opposite the old Yacht Club building (now the Harbor Restaurant).
In 1940, the club was in sound financial condition and the members started to agitate for property of their own. The city was in need of a civic auditorium, so plans were drawn for a building to be erected immediately west of the breakwater. The southern wing was to be the Yacht Club, the center the auditorium and the northern wing for the Naval Reserve. The city council appropriated $20,000. The W.P.A. was to put up the balance. With construction well underway, war arrived. The W.P.A. shutdown and the city was stuck with a building less than a third completed. The building was given to the Navy, and the harbor was closed during the war, but a “shadow” club was held together.
Activities started again in 1946, the first regatta in 1947 was held at the Naval Reserve Armory. Club meetings were held in various members’ houses. During February 1949, a suite was leased in the California Hotel. In January 1950, negotiations were opened with the city for a portion of beach for a clubhouse location. In July 1950, there was a “bill of sale” from the Union Oil Company for an old office building to be used for a clubhouse. The clubhouse was completed and in use by December 1951. It was in this building that the spirit shown by our Yacht Club today was generated. That building was removed in 1966 and replaced by the current facility.
With the ushering in of the New Millennium, in many ways the club was arguably in the best condition that it had been for many years. During the last decade of the twentieth century, the City of Santa Barbara had enlarged the harbor by adding seventy new 50 and 60 foot slips in Marina-1 which along with a strong economy resulted in attracting new members to the yacht club. The additional revenue that was realized over the next several years was used to enlarge and remodel the club house, hire a professional full time race director and provide a solid foundation for the club to meet its financial obligations. Along with the prosperity of the yacht club, some of its members came together and created an endowment fund of over one million dollars to support the Santa Barbara Youth Sailing Foundation. The purpose of the endowment fund is to ensure that youngsters with an interest in sailing, within our community, could receive world class instruction and opportunities on the water. The result has been extremely successful as verified by the many world class sailors that have graduated from the SBYSF.
It was also during this period that the yacht club became more than just an exclusive men’s club. The establishment of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club Women’s (SBYCW) group in 1989, also became a significant fund raiser providing scholarships for aspiring sailors and other charitable, educational, and philanthropic causes. In addition, Francie Goodfield Lufkin became the first female, and second generation Commodore in 2013. Over the last twenty-five years the contribution of women serving the club in every capacity including Secretary, Treasurer, Director, officer of the Bridge, volunteer and Regatta Chairman, cannot be overstated.
A strong membership and a solid financial base has also enabled SBYC to reach out to the community at large and have a positive impact. Since 2005, the SBYC Charity Regatta has raised over $2 million dollars for the benefit of Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care, (now VNA Health) who serve our residents suffering from terminal illness. It is also estimated that the SBYC charity regattas annually bring in 300 yachts and 5,000 visitors to Santa Barbara boosting the local economy. The club also supports the the Parade of Lights, Friendship Paddle, and visiting Naval Vessels.
2022 - Present
The Santa Barbara Yacht Club has grown and prospered over the last 150 years because of a membership that is dedicated to promoting yachting activities, preserving maritime tradition and serving the social and recreational needs of its members while being mindful of the needs of our community. To carry on this mission, the club is currently undertaking a major renovation and remodeling project that will prepare the facility for the foreseeable future. Upon completion, the clubhouse will be prepared to carry on and provide for its membership and the community at large a joyful yachting experience worthy of its name.
The Santa Barbara Yacht Club is proud of the contributions that we make to our city.
Playing host to visiting yachtsmen from all over the world and providing a facility for their comfort.
• Sponsoring the Santa Barbara Youth Foundation and offering sailing instructions to young sailors from the Santa Barbara area.
• Sponsoring the VNA Health Charity Regatta, a major fundraising event.
• Welcoming locals and visitors alike, the Breakwater Flag Project facilitates a cheerful display of flags from local non-profit organizations.
• Hosting the starting point for the Santa Barbara to King Harbor Regatta and the finishing point for the So Cal 300. These events are estimated to bring 200 yachts and thousands of visitors to Santa Barbara.
• Offering direct support for the Parade of Lights, Friendship Paddle, and visiting Naval Vessels.