The Sussex Yacht Club was established in 1892 by a group of yachting enthusiasts in order to further the sport of yachting and cruising and is now one of the oldest sailing clubs in the UK. The Club was originally named "The Mosquito Yacht Club" after the one-design yachts favoured by the gentlemen owners (the class itself was named after the blood sucking insects that once swarmed the Southwick canal).
At this time meetings were held in a room at the Schooner Inn at Southwick which was the club's first HQ. It was dryly noted that the only reason the club seemed to hold three annual meetings each year was because it was based in a pub.
After WW1 on 17 May 1919 the club reformed as the Sussex Yacht Club, but this fast growing band keen sailors were threatened by a rent increase from the pub Landlord; in response the 'Mosquitos' moved into a converted 40ft Brighton beach boat called the 'White Swan' from Alfred Sweet, then the Shoreham Harbourmaster. This new floating club house even boasted a full sized piano on board which was subsequently removed and replaced by a full sized billiard table. At this time there were around 50 members and the club happily ticked along racing in the summer and playing billiards in the winter.
However the White Swan was no spring chicken and the amount of bailing required to keep her afloat suggested that another new home was needed, so in 1926 it was decided that the Club should be formed into a limited company enabling it to raise funds equitably from the members and so purchase the Old Malt House fronting the Southwick canal. SYC now had a large HQ and more water frontage than the neighbouring Schooner Inn where they once struggled to pay rent on a single room!
This new HQ remains today as the SYC Southwick base and overlooks the considerable club moorings, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
During 1946 the facilities of the Club were further improved by the acquisition of land comprising a river frontage, together with a slipway, hard and boat-shed situated on the south bank of the River Adur, and which is opposite the present Shoreham Clubhouse.
In 1950 the continuing need for even further facilities for the Members was met by the purchase from His Grace the Duke of Norfolk of the freehold of Stow's Shipyard. This extensive freehold, fronting the River Adur at Shoreham, includes a spacious clubhouse, excellent laying up and fitting out facilities, slipways, and is now the main centre of the Club's activities. With the help of lottery funding, the Shoreham Clubhouse now enjoys high quality facilities, with full disabled access throughout.
In 1999 Brighton BSAC branch 007 joined with Sussex Yacht Club, enabling the SYC to provide on the water enjoyment in yachts, dinghies, rowing sculls, safety boats and diving.
In 2001 Sussex Yacht Club established Sussex "Sailability", a registered charity and this is also now a thriving section of the Club.
The Club currently has circa 1,300 members, and boasts a full calendar of social events in addition to its on-the-water activities.
The Club was granted by Admiralty Warrant, the privilege of wearing a defaced Blue Ensign in 1955.
His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, by whose generous assistance the Club became established at Shoreham, honoured the Club by accepting life office as Admiral in 1958, and was succeeded by the new Duke of Norfolk in 1976 until his death in 2002.
The past commodore and long serving member Tony Boysons took over the role of Admiral in 2008 and remains a stalwart of the club.
If you are interested in more detail on the fascinating history of Sussex Yacht Club there is a book by Dick Durham entitled 'Where the River Meets the Sea' which chronicles a hundred years of our club and was commissioned by SYC to celebrate its centenary.