South Beach Yacht Club is a volunteer organization dedicated to our members' greater enjoyment of sailing and boating. The Club was established in 1988 and has grown to over 500 members. Our clubhouse overlooks South Beach Harbor, and our yearly calendar is packed with races, cruises and social events and a lot of good fellowship.
Dating back nearly 200 years, South Beach was San Francisco's warehousing and shipwright district. The broad protected waters of Mission Bay provided safe anchorage, Mission Creek afforded water access into the developing city, and the tidal beach area near Steamboat point offered an excellent spot first for careening vessels and later boatways and shipways.
By the 1970s, the area was characterized -- in the words of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency -- by "dilapidated warehouses, open cargo storage yards, abandoned or underutilized buildings, several piers in unsound condition and an extensive network of underutilized street rights-of-way."
As the agency later described, the Rincon Point-South Beach redevelopment project had its start in 1977 with the designation by the Board of Supervisors of the Northeastern Waterfront Survey Area, leading to a joint planning study of the agency, the port, the planning department, and the Northeastern Waterfront Advisory Committee (NEWAC). The planning commission approved a Preliminary Redevelopment Plan in January 1980.
A Rincon Point-South Beach Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed, and ultimately the redevelopment program was approved by the Board of Supervisors and by the Mayor in January 1981.
Birth of South Beach Yacht Club
On Saturday, April 30th, 1988, Harbormaster Carter Strauch invited South Beach Harbor tenants interested in forming a yacht club to meet at the Longshoreman and Warehouse Union Hall across the street from the marina. Fifty-six boat owners attended what turned out to be the initial meeting of South Beach Yacht Club. The group selected 10 attendees (Sue Angus, Bob Brigante, John Coe, Frank DeTeen, Leah Kenworthy, Ed Mackin, Bland McCartha, Keith Moore, Lome Ryan, and Devonee Welch) as the Club organizing committee. By June 11 at the second general meeting, the organizing committee presented a cruise and social calendar, announced the first Friday night race, distributed draft by-laws and spoke of possible club house facilities.
By the beginning of 1989, this active group had elected officers, adopted Rules and By-Laws, filed the articles of incorporation (Bland McCartha and Susan Angus), acquired needed licenses and permits, distributed a monthly newsletter, held the first Friday night race series, designed a club burgee, had a grand Christmas Gala, and hosted the first membership drive aboard Bob Brigante's boat, Bonnie Jean. These dynamic founding members with their amazingly ambitious schedule set what has become the norm at South Beach Yacht Club.
In June 1989, members started work on Club facilities on Pier 40 overlooking South Beach Harbor. Construction on the double-wide trailer, always considered a temporary clubhouse, was performed solely by member volunteers under the leadership of Fred Maeder. As head of the Facility Committee, Fred arranged for the location and erection of our first clubhouse. On December 18th, 1989, at 1356 hours, the Port of San Francisco issued the permit to occupy the double-wide shown in the picture left. Thanks to Fred and "Maeder's Raiders" we had a home!
Since the inaugural meeting in 1988, South Beach Yacht Club members worked to make South Beach Yacht Club a premier one in the Bay Area without ever losing focus on the all-volunteer spirit of the Club, boating and the community. Members take their community responsibility seriously which is demonstrated by having forged a close relationship as host club for the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors, by developing the Junior Sailing program, and by offering use of the clubhouse as a polling place and meeting location for the Rincon Point/South Beach Citizens' Advisory Committee to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.
The South Beach neighborhood ascended to new heights with construction of the San Francisco Giants ballpark at the corner of King Street and Second Street. Opening day was April 11, 2000.
The Club, with its active membership, hosts a robust yearlong schedule of social, cruising, and racing events. South Beach Yacht Club is the organizing authority for Friday night summer series and a mid-winter series. In 1989, its second year of operation, South Beach Yacht Club initiated and continues to co-sponsor with Benicia Yacht Club the annual Labor Day weekend Jazz Cup, a downwind race from Treasure Island to Benicia which attracts as many as 125 boats. Charter member Ray Hall captures the definitive history of the club in his book Surfing the Wavelength. Other annual regattas have included the Spring Forward regatta, an IRC/J120/J125 invitational, and in 2012 a new all-women Red Bra Regatta and a new perpetual trophy with the Corinthian Yacht Club called the X-Bay Challenge.
In 2004, the Club was selected as host club and to provide race management for the Catalina 30 National Championship. The following year the Club, together with Bay View Boat Club and the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors, hosted the 470 North American Championships. These experiences led to hosting other major regattas in subsequent years.
The year 2003 brought a long-awaited milestone for the Club. On August 7, Commodore Pete Hamm executed the lease for our new facility with the Redevelopment Agency. In 2005, SBYC members saw construction start on their new permanent and held a ribbon-cutting in the fall of 2006.
On Valentine's Day, 2010, Larry Ellison's America's Cup syndicate BMW Oracle Racing won the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia Spain. The South Beach neighborhood became home to America's Cup Race Management after San Francisco won the right to host the 160 year-old regatta. Teams and race officials set up shop at Piers 30-32 and Pier 40 first for an America's Cup World Series in 2012, followed by the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup July 4-September 22, 2013.
Now beyond our 25th anniversary year, South Beach Yacht Club is proud to be part of an era of access to San Francisco Bay from the city's southern waterfront, and we take pride in the warmth, spirit, and commitment to a volunteer-led club that marked our founding.