Founded originally in 1922 by yachtsmen including Charles Hathaway and Frank Garbutt, the California Yacht Club's first clubhouse was built in Wilmington, CA in Los Angeles' inner harbor (berths nos. 192 & 193), just opposite Terminal Island. Close by were the yards of renowned yacht builders Wilmington Boat Works and Fellows & Stewart (second location). In the club's inaugural year, member yachtsmen formed the first Star class fleet on the Pacific coast. Involved in all aspect of the sport, the club has encouraged a variety of pleasure boating, first in Los Angeles Harbor, and now in Santa Monica Bay.
Over the years CYC has been the club for numerous prominent yachtsmen including Merritt Adamson, Pierpont Davis, Roy E. Disney, J. Paul Getty, Samuel K. Rindge, William Stewart, James Kilroy and navigator extraodinaire, Ben Mitchell. Movie mogul Cecil B. DeMille once served as a trustee of the club and donated a gold cup for powerboat racing. Comedy film producers Al Christie and Hal Roach were both deeply involved in club activities in the twenties and thirties.
Power boating has always been a part of the club's mission along with sailing and rowing. The first CYC powerboat regatta was run in 1922 and the winner was none less than the famous Gar Wood in his Harmsworth Trophy winner Miss America. CYC's Catalina Challenge race for powerboats has been run annually since 1922.
A fire on Thanksgiving Day, 1930 severely damaged the original clubhouse although the heroic efforts of some members saved all of the trophies.
In 1932, several CYC members figured prominently in the sailing events at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Owen Churchill, inventor of the SwimFin, won the gold medal in the Eight-Metre Class with Angelita.
Unfortunately, the club was forced to relinquish its key location in the East Basin to the Coast Guard for the war effort in 1941. A dormant period followed.
With the development of the long-awaited Marina Del Rey in the early 1960s, the club reformed in '63 and elected Fritz Overton, Commodore in 1923, as head of the "new" club. In 1966, they opened the modern clubhouse and marina facility that is their home today. The radial design of the building allows sweeping panoramic views of the marina.
The California Yacht Club is owned by the Hathaway family, owners of the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The annual "Great Catalina to Marina del Rey Rowing and Paddling Event" pays tribute to Charles Hathaway's row in 1976 from Catalina Island to the club on his 50th birthday.
The unique combination of private ownership and annually elected flag officers has worked well to establish California Yacht Club as one of the outstanding clubs in the nation.