Santa Barbara Yacht Club

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Santa Barbara Yacht Club Burgee
Santa Barbara Yacht Club, 2010
Santa Barbara Yacht Club
Carey Stanton with Charlie Watson, SBYC,
on Santa Cruz Island
Carey Stanton with members of the SBYC
Main Ranch, Santa Cruz Island
SBYC members at Pelican Bay, Santa Cruz Island

Santa Barbara Yacht Club was first founded in 1872 , just seven years following the conclusion of the Civil War 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, with its original corporate charter for a period of 50 years. This was a time before the first Southern Pacific train reached the city and State Street was a graded dirt thoroughfare with boardwalks and 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 water front 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 now unload their passengers without rowing them ashore.

The original clubhouse was a 35 x 20 foot building at the foot of Stearns Wharf on the West side. During the building of the wharf this had been the home 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. The clubhouse was destroyed by a storm in February of 1924. It washed out to sea.

In early 1925 Messrs. Fleischman, Storke, Murphy and Spaulding said they would have a clubhouse built on Stearns Wharf and leased to the Club. This Club House opened in 1926, at the location of the present Harbor Restaurant. From 1921 to 1929 a regatta was held every year. In 1925, the year of the Santa Barbara earthquake, the Southern California Yachting Association (SCYA) Regatta was scheduled. SCYA offered to call it off because 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 La Cumbre Country Club. In 1926 Major Fleischman 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.

The Santa Barbara Yacht Club has a long tradition of sponsoring races around the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.


  • 1908-1910 Francis Townsend Underhill (1863-1929)
  • 1911 John S. Edwards
  • 1912 Harold Josiah Doulton (1860-1928)
  • 1917 Cleo Lloyd (1864-1921)
  • 1918 Dr. George Selmon Wells (1863-1946)
  • 1919 James Carden Bainbridge (1862-1931)
  • 1921 John T. McCurdy
  • 1922 Earle Ovington (1879-1936)
  • 1925 Elmer Awl (1899-1983)
  • 1929-1930 Edwin J. Gourley (1879-1956)
  • 1935-1936 Niels Martin
  • 1939-1940 John C. Grim
  • 1941 Roy E. Gammill (1903-1965)
  • 1942-1943 Dr. Albert Quincy Spaulding (1895-1965)
  • 1944-1945 W. T. Warren
  • 1946 Joseph Edward Knowles (1907-1980)
  • 1947 Wiley A. Cole
  • 1948 Russell A. Boner
  • 1949 Ken Weber
  • 1950 J. J. Hollister, Jr.
  • 1951 Alex Funke (1905-1972)
  • 1952 Tom S. Crawford
  • 1953 Thomas Worthington Fair (1986-1973)
  • 1954 Graham Dexter George (1906-1982)
  • 1955 Earl B. Hayward
  • 1956 Wilmot Hughes (1919-2002)
  • 1957 Kenneth C. Urton
  • 1958 Paul O. Backman (1909-1990)
  • 1959 Jens H. Christiansen
  • 1960 Paul D. Kolyn
  • 1961 Ronald Bollay
  • 1962 Douglas Warner
  • 1963 Ray Czerny Skeel (1885-1969)
  • 1964 Charles P. Barnes
  • 1965 William H. Wilson
  • 1966 Noel D. Cooke
  • 1967 Russell H. Roberts
  • 1968 Frank Cline, Jr.
  • 1969 Irving Milton Harris (1914-1989)
  • 1970 Lester Goodman Baldwin, Jr. (1915-1990)
  • 1971 Harry G. Iddings, Jr.
  • 1972 John Stifel Handloser (1921-2000)
  • 1973 Stanley M. Darrow
  • 1974 Glenn Stabler
  • 1975 Donald L. McFarland
  • 1976 Allen W. Schmidt
  • 1977 Robert Stoddart Magee (1923-2014)
  • 1978 Nelson "Cork" Otis (1928-2009)
  • 1979 Max Lynn
  • 1980 David George Latta (1935-2007)
  • 1981 James M. Cunnungham
  • 1982 William J. Underwood, Jr. (1927-2016)
  • 1983 Ronald Elden Strahal (1942-2017)
  • 1984 James G. Pattillo
  • 1985 Fred Rice (1920-2010)
  • 1986 Robert Junet
  • 1987 Charles E. Watson
  • 1988 Stan Los
  • 1989 Dexter Goodell
  • 1990 William W. Deardorff
  • 1991 Edward T. Attlesey
  • 1992 William H. Lenvik
  • 1993 Edward J. Marini
  • 1994 James A. Rudy
  • 1995 Stanley M. Los
  • 1996 Llewellyn Goodfield, Jr.
  • 1977 James J. Zimmerman
  • 1998 Guy C. Turner
  • 1999 Eugene G. Glover
  • 2000 Douglas B Ewins

In the News~

January 11, 1881 [SBDP]: “Santa Barbara’s Harbor. The harbor of Santa Barbara is destined to make this city’s future. Large enough to accommodate the fleets of the world, safely sheltered… Once in five or ten years a severe southeast storm visits this portion of the coast, and the waves rolling in at the southern entrance of the channel, render the harbor insecure. At these times vessels are compelled to run across the channel, a distance of some fifteen miles, and seek shelter under the lofty cliffs of Santa Cruz Island.”

July 6, 1882 [SBDP]: “A yacht club. The pleasure excursion of the yacht Casco, yesterday, caused a revival of the oft repeated question, why does not Santa Barbara have a yacht club… Mr. J. Doulton’s Dashaway has proven an entire success, and should stimulate others to follow his example, and own private yachts, but in any event clubs should formed, and at least one large first-class yacht should be placed on the channel.”

May 18, 1887 [SBMP]: “The charter members of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club met at General S. W. Bacus’ office yesterday to complete organization of the club by the adoption of by-laws, and the election of the following Board of Directors: A. L. Clark, S. W. Backus, L. C. Dreyfus, Walter N. Hawley, Wm. M. Eddy, A. E. Putnam and W. N. Cowles. A. L. Clark was elected president, F. M. Whitney vice-president, A. O. Perkins, secretary, and Charles A. Edwards, treasurer. A long list of names was proposed for membership and the meeting adjourned until Saturday evening at 8 o’clock. The Club has been duly incorporated and the Directors will push matters so as to be able to have a regatta at the opening of the railroad, if possible. The election for Commodore and Vice Commodore was postponed for a future meeting. Life membership is fixed at $100. The Club starts with fully ninety members; annual membership at $20 for initiation and $10 for annual dues. Visitors can enjoy the privileges of the Club on payment of $5 per month, or $20 for a season. The Directors have written to San Francisco for information relative to yachts offered for sale.”

(DATE??) The election of commodore and vice-commodore was postponed until later. A board of directors was chosen. Life membership is fixed at $100. Annual membership is $20 for initiation and $10 for annual dues. Visitors can pay $5 per month.”

April 5, 1899 [SBMP]: “…Since the Lark was launched the interest in local yachting circles has increased and now bids fair to grow to such proportions as to warrant the organization of a yacht club, which would be a good thing for the town and would afford no small amount of pleasure to a large number of people who would like to see some good yacht races on the near future.”

December 23, 1906 [SBMP]: “…Boat club? Yacht club? Ain’t none here… That’s the exact situation in Santa Barbara today… Once upon a time, the writer is informed, a yacht club was organized here. It gave itself an attractive imposing name. It held many meetings. It elected a full compliment of officers, from commodore down… The members were enthusiastic on paper… Somehow the idea didn’t get below Haley Street…”

January 4, 1908 [SBMP]: “In line with the proposed coming of the yachts from the southern waters to hold regattas here in the coming fall, J. D. Lowsley, at the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce last night, spoke in favor of Santa Barbara organizing a yacht club of her own. The suggestion met with favor and the secretary was instructed by motion, to call a meeting of local yachtsmen to meet at the rooms of the Chamber of Commerce in the near future, to take preliminary steps toward the organization of such a club. Dr. Stambach stated that there were a number of young men here who handle small yachts with expert skill and that interest in water sports was deepening. There should be a local club, he said, to give the visitors the proper sort of nautical welcome to these waters.”

January 29, 1908 [SBMP]: “… There are ardent yachtsmen in this city. But somehow they never seem to get it together. The invitation is now out from the Chamber of Commerce, following a decision of that organization to foster such a club. And under the wing of the Chamber of Commerce the club should grow to be independent, to live in its own home down by the water side, with its moorings and its nodding craft at anchor…”

July 2, 1917 [SBDN]: “The Santa Barbara Yacht Club returned yesterday from a cruise to the islands aboard the Royal. The party of 20 members of the club left here Saturday afternoon and returned late yesterday.”

June 18, 1919 [SBMP]: “The return of skipper E. J. Gourley of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club is anxiously awaited here by members of the club as the problem of securing a yacht for a regatta to be staged here within the next few weeks is a paramount issue. It is expected that Gourley, who left for San Francisco last Friday to look over a 65-foot boat in the north, will arrive either today or tomorrow and will then make his report as to what he found in the bay region. A 65-footer in the harbor here would about come up to the idea of all those who are interested in the project. Hereafter the Royal, a craft much smaller, has held the boards here and has always given satisfactory service. But providing the new boat is purchased by the yacht club, a regular crew will be needed and when the boat bends her sails to the wind there is going to be some galloping over the waves noticeable in this section.”

June 26, 1919 [SBMP]: “In the way of adding joy to the announcement that the Santa Barbara Yacht Club has purchased the Caprice, now at Sausalito, members of the club will give a ball at the Belvedere hotel tomorrow evening… Skipper E. J. Gourley leaves for San Francisco Saturday evening, where he will supervise the installation of the engine in the Caprice and look into other details. It is believed that everything will be in readiness to sail with the Caprice to Santa Barbara by next Thursday or Friday. A number of yachtsmen here will leave for the north next Wednesday, for the purpose of boarding the Caprice on her maiden voyage to this city. The Caprice is 65 feet overall; 17-foot beam, has 14 sleeping berths, a fine dining room, is schooner rigged, and on a day cruise has accommodations for 50 passengers. Dr. D. C. Bainbridge is commodore of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, and George Becker, vice commodore. The Caprice is the fastest yacht in Pacific waters. Yearly it has figured prominently in the Honolulu-San Francisco and Farallones island runs. Her cabins are loaded with trophies.”

May 28, 1925 [SBMP]: “Eighteen members of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club will leave Stearn’s Wharf at 6:15 o’clock tomorrow night for a week-end cruise to Santa Cruz Island…”

June 18, 1927 [SBMP]: “Members of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club will leave this afternoon on the annual cruise to Santa Cruz Island. They will spend the night in the tent city on the island and return tomorrow afternoon. Captain Ira Eaton’s Sea Wolf will be the flagship of the cruise and will take many of the members across the channel. Several other boats also will make the trip. An interesting program is being arranged by Bob Cornwall, secretary of the club, and who is in charge of the arrangements.”