Club History

Club History


First named Win’ard Yacht Club, the Club merged in 1960 with Redondo Harbor Yacht Club to become King Harbor Yacht Club.

Win’ard, the older of the two clubs, was formed in April 1949, with Robert Goldstone as Commodore. A small clubhouse was built by the members and remained a familiar landmark until dismantled in July 1960 to make room for harbor expansion. The Club sponsored many sailing activities in Redondo Harbor, including the Girl Mariner Scouts and the Sea Explorer Scout Ship “Porpoise.” In 1956, the Club leased Little Fisherman’s Cove at Catalina Isthmus, greatly expanding its range of activities.

Harbor Yacht Club was organized in 1956 by some small boat sailors from the South Bay, with Fred Hope as Commodore. Their first fleet was Win’ard Sabots. Their busy sailing schedule was operated from a trailer clubhouse, and most boat launching was from the beach. Among their events was the Torchlight Regatta, held at night, the Iron Man Race, the Cecil R. King trophy race, as well as events for larger boats.

When Redondo Harbor was built, powered by the need to merge and pool resources, the two clubs merged to form King Harbor Yacht Club.

Win’ard Yacht Club

The Win’ard Yacht Club was formed on April 20, 1949, by a group of yachtsmen who felt a need for a meeting place for local boaters. The first Commodore was Robert Goldstone who was a sail maker by trade. His Rear Commodore was Ernest Walker who was a boat builder. Between the two of them, they came up with a plan under which members could obtain sabots ready for finishing at cost. Although some members had larger boats, the group initially limited its active sailing to sabots. The following year, they joined SCYA and membership grew rapidly, expanding into larger boats. Due to the lack of launching and mooring facilities, the larger boats were kept mostly in San Pedro. Weekend visits were scheduled when members would sail up and rendezvous at Redondo Harbor for beach parties, treasure hunts and general good times. Many races were scheduled from Cabrillo Beach to Redondo, returning the following day.

Due to the lack of a club house, meetings were held in the Hermosa South School until 1952, when the members built a facility on the old Edison Pier at the foot of 10th Street, near where the Marina offices are today. Many members can still remember the fun of launching boats through the surf to sail all day, returning to a cozy room heated by a wood burning stove and a simple hot meal cooked by the “Petticoat Fleet.” In 1956, this building was leased to the contractor working on the new harbor and the Daily Breeze offered WYC a meeting place on the 2nd floor of their building.

The Cruising Fleet, which was composed of boats 20 feet and over, held most of its meetings at Henry’s Yacht Anchorage in San Pedro. It was at Henry’s in 1960 that the first hospitality day was held, the “brain child” of Chris Christopher, Fleet Captain. Since then, this event has become an annual affair in conjunction with Opening Day in the Spring.

As part of the “dues” for the Cruising Fleet, members paid for a landing card for the Isthmus. Part of this money helped to pay for the Cove lease. In addition, a super luau, pig in the pit and all, was a yearly money making event at the Cove on Labor Day. The facility in the early years consisted of a small framework structure with an iron roof; all material and labor was donated by the members.

The leaders of Win’ard Yacht Club worked long, hard hours with the Redondo Harbor Yacht Club committee to form the current King Harbor Yacht Club.

Redondo Harbor Yacht Club

One day, in the Spring of 1956, some outrigger sailing friends got together. Tired of trailering boats to Malibu to race, they came up with the bright idea of forming their own home-front yacht club, and so the Redondo Harbor Yacht Club was born. Many of these same people are still active sailors and KHYC members. One hundred and twenty people, all small boat sailors from the South Bay, formed the first group. The largest class of boats was Malibu outriggers. These boats, as well as others to follow, operated off the beach. The Club’s first class of boats to form a fleet was the Win’ard sabots.

The club maintained an active racing schedule for large boats and small boats, and because it was a family-oriented club, dedicated to family fun, it grew rapidly. Under the able leadership of Fred Hope, the first Commodore, and Bill White, 1957’s leader, by 1958, sixty families were represented in six fleets, outriggers and sabots being the largest. By 1959, one hundred nineteen families belonged! During these years, meetings of the Yacht Club were held at the Elks Club in Redondo. Fleet meetings were held in member’s homes. The women formed an active part of the group, especially crewing! In 1959, the “material possessions” of the RHYC were listed as: 1) one newly polished Commodores’ Bell, 2) a race committee float, 3) a trailer, 4) a ditto machine, 5) one anchor and line, 6) one small outboard motor boat, and 7) some race committee equipment. With this equipment a fantastic racing schedule was ordered and maintained. Life was pretty simple then, sailing was the thing. All these hearty sailors with their “assets” were a very valuable part of forming the new yacht club and have continued to be part of the backbone of today's club.

Yacht Racing

Both Win’ard and Redondo Harbor Yacht Clubs specialized in yacht racing. Due to the fact that Win’ard members stored their big boats in San Pedro, it was natural that a race be organized from the San Pedro to the Santa Monica Bay area. In 1951, this race was named the Matt Walsh Perpetual Trophy race and was named after its donor who was a widely known Corinthian who won many races in the area. Matt Walsh always believed that yacht races should be held along the coast line where the public could watch, and when he presented the Matt Walsh Trophy to the Win’ard Club, he specified the course should be from Portuguese Bend up the coast to Manhattan Beach and then back to the Win’ard Yacht Club at Redondo. The Matt Walsh is still raced today as a part of our Spinnaker series. The Redondo Harbor Yacht Club with its small boat flavor organized a race using the Portsmouth handicap system in 1959. This race was given the name “Cecil R. King” after the local Congressman who saw to it that the Harbor project was included in the omnibus Rivers and Harbors Bill in Congress, and after whom the Harbor is named.  Members also race up and down the coast in regattas and long distance races such as the Ensenada Race and the Santa Barbara to King Harbor race, a tradition that continues today.

The Ladies

On August 23, 1949, the Win’ard Yacht Club women organized a committee to help with club functions. The “Petticoat Fleet” was chosen as a name. Its officers were elected by the women but still had to be approved by the Commodore! The principle function of this group was to serve as a welcoming committee at meetings, conduct money-making raffles each month, and provide refreshments at meetings.

Later the board “requested” that the women put on a dinner for club members every month. The women spent time cleaning the clubhouse, selling Tupperware, shampoo, baked goods and other odds and ends for money in order to buy galley equipment. They constantly cooked and served food at races and other events. As is true today, their main complaints were the lack of proper equipment, the disappearance of what equipment they had, and the lack of cooperation by club members in making reservations on time!

Although women’s races were discussed from time to time, not much interest seemed to be generated until 1951 when Win’ard joined SCYA. At that time Commodore Arch Johnson organized a women’s Invitational Race as one of Win’ards first events. He invited the Petticoat Fleet to attend the race committee meeting so that the women could be “assigned duties” for the day. He stated “This race has been established to give the distaff side of yachting a chance to compete in an event restricted to their own sex." He also remarked that the affair would be largely social but races “would be held in an approved manner, flags, guns, and everything!" The Petticoat Fleet had very few boats and did little sailing on their own. Two Win’ard gals entered and six other yacht club entries competed, with Balboa taking first and second.

The fleet found time to help the Girl Mariners with many of their projects and to assist the crew of the “Porpoise” (mostly feeding them). They arranged the first Installation Dinner for the Yacht Club in 1954. It was held at the Hermosa Biltmore. They noted that it was a grand affair, the first time the club had ever had such a ceremony complete with flag exchanges and introduction of officers.

Because Redondo Harbor Yacht Club was a very family oriented club, and because most of the women were actively taking care of small children, or crewing for their husbands, there did not seem to be a need for a separate fleet strictly for women’s activities. The women were most supportive and actively involved in all yacht club functions. Many of these women began meeting on Wednesday to talk things over, plan for dinners, and so on. Because they left their housework, they laughingly called themselves the “Dirty Dishes Fleet." All other times, they were referred to as the “Chickens of the Sea." In 1966 they petitioned the board for organization and in March were given the “go-ahead." On April 6,1966 at 10:00 am they held their first official meeting as The First Mates, and have been going strong ever since. Throughout the years, the First Mates traveled up and down the coast sailing Sabots on Wednesday afternoons. They would hold 6 to 8 regattas a year. At King Harbor they sometimes would have up to 70 participants in their regattas and a constant battle with the Harbor Master for room, but somehow they would prevail.

Besides sailing, the ladies actively engaged in money-making activities to buy equipment for the clubhouse. With help from the Board and other fleets, they equipped the original galley from which fabulous feasts came forth! They put on fashion shows, bazaars, holiday shopping and white elephant sales, and whatever else worked.

As society changed and more of the club's women entered the work force, in 1990 a new women’s group was formed. Because they had to meet in the evenings, after the working day, they named their group The Night Watch. The King Harbor Yacht Club Night Watch women organize the Christmas Boat Parade in the Harbor every year and hold many Yachting activities throughout the year.

The Juniors

Beginning with Win’ard and Redondo Harbor Yacht clubs, great emphasis has always been placed on the junior members, and a concerted effort by parents and club members has been made to help them become active sailors and good yacht club participants. The first recorded junior regatta dates to June 1959; it was sponsored by Bill and Maggie White. Kim Gale took top honors for the two days of Sabot sailing.

In 1961, after the two clubs merged, a junior fleet was organized under the watchful eyes of Bill Pipkin, Ed Brown, and Bill Gale. All young people ages 13-19 were eligible and the group was very active. In October, they held their first big race called “Le Nut." It was a crazy race day such as only Bill Pipkin could devise. In this year, the juniors held their first Commodores’ Ball. They also took on as their duty the mailing of the Telltale each month.

In 1962, a younger group called the “Splitnebs” was formed for younger kids, which kept them interested and busy. Meetings for both groups were held the same evenings as the general Membership Meeting, making for a good “Family Night."
In 1964, David and Ellie Johns took over the Junior Program and brought the two groups into a total planned program of activities. Dick Kline was hired as a sailing instructor. Parent involvement became very intense. Diane Hope even organized a “baby sitting” service using the club teenagers. Unfortunately the voluntary contribution fund didn’t work out.

In 1965, Dick and Marcia Reed reorganized the 7-12 year olds into the “Jolly Rogers” group. They had 40 active members (3 of their own). The older Juniors were busy with sailing, dancing and Tuesday dinners.

Through all this effort we have developed a good supply of very apt sailors, skippers and crew. Our young people have distinguished themselves and brought honor to our club by winning local, national and international races. Winners or not, they have actively participated, with the true Corinthian spirit, with yacht clubs worldwide, putting KHYC on the map.

The Cove

In 1952, the forward thinking cruising yachtsmen of Win’ard took a lease on Little Fisherman’s Cove at the Isthmus in Catalina. The intial lease area was quite large, running all the way over to the other side of the reef. The lease cost $1,000 per year, and proud members adorned the area with a small structure, open on three sides, with the back covered with reed matting to stem the canyon wind. Behind the hut was a swamp which required constant draining, and bucket brigades were constantly hauling sand and rock up to make dry land. Barbecue pits were constructed of rock, with grates from old refrigerators over them. Later, 50 gallon oil drums, cut in half, made excellent barbecues. Many pleasant evenings were spent barbecuing on the beach, while children and teenagers felt free to roam the Isthmus.

In those days, there was an unwritten law preventing the use of outboard engines on dinghies. The idea was to retain the quiet and peaceful environment, while at the same time improving one’s physique by the use of oars. Everyone was quite skilled at rowing and beaching the boats through the surf. Although everyone thought the idea of a dinghy dock was a pretty good one, an old float from Redondo Harbor (previously a race committee platform) was towed over to serve the purpose. It ended up being a loose weapon which had to be dodged when it constantly broke loose from its anchor. At the end of that summer, the platform was donated to the Boy Scouts, later hauled up to the beach at the Isthmus, and a year later, hauled off to the dump. That was the first and last effort at a dinghy dock, at least until the 90’s when Staff Commodore Tom Collins, Tim Taylor and Bob White hauled over the USN bridge pontoons to serve as our floating dinghy dock (or semi beached whales, dependent on the tide).

In 1965, a storage vault was built on the beach. The Island Company laid the foundation and the members did the rest. It remained until 1977 when, battered by the tides, it was moved with a bulldozer over by the hill, and another, larger vault was built.

In 1966, a dream was realized with the construction of the still-existing A-frame. Walt Shaw was the contractor and the finishing was completed by the members.

The Labor Day Luau was started in the 50’s as an end to summer fun, with 50 to 60 people participating. The tradition of the pig roast was commenced with the pig cooked in a pit, dug out and lined with lava rock. That method evolved to the meat being cooked on a spit with a motor, gears and pulleys to power the spit. While the pig roasted, young and old alike would cavort on the beach, have dinghy races, hula lessons and treasure hunts. Unfortunately, due to sharply rising rent by the Catalina Island Company, KHYC ended their lease of The Cove several years ago.

King Harbor Yacht Club

In February of 1960 the ” Great Amalgamation” dinner party was held at the San Pedro Hacienda Hotel, now long gone, and King Harbor Yacht Club became a reality. Today KHYC operates under the 60 year old charter of Win’ard Yacht Club.

The new club facility was formally dedicated in 1964. Several additions and improvements to the club building have been added over the years and the club has survived two major storms, one in 1983 and the second in 1987. Rigging and guest docks have been added over the years and in 1997, two new jib cranes and a new launching platform were completed. KHYC now has the most dock space for members, guests and reciprocal visitors than any yacht club in the Santa Monica Bay area.
Today, King Harbor Yacht Club is highly respected up and down the coast, not only for our yachting activities, but also for our enthusiastic participation and leadership in the yachting community activities. This enviable reputation is primarily due to a membership that is warm, friendly, active and willing to go that extra (nautical) mile on behalf of others.  Recently we have won the coveted Yacht Club of the Year (again).

Memorable Dates

  • April 20, 1949 Win’ard Yacht Club Started
  • Summer 1952 First Lease at Little Fisherman’s Cove
  • Spring 1956 Redondo Harbor Yacht Club Started
  • February 1960 King Harbor Yacht Club Amalgamation
  • April 6, 1966 First Mates Started
  • March 1983 First Major Storm Hit the Club
  • January 1987 Second Major Storm Hit the Club
  • November 1997 Dedication of New Hoist & Platform
  • April 20, 1999 50th Anniversary
  • April 20, 2019 70th Anniversary