A Brief History of The San Francisco Yacht Club

San Francisco Yacht Club, founded in 1869 and incorporated in 1873, is the oldest yacht club on the Pacific Coast. The original anchorage and Clubhouse were located on Long Bridge in San Francisco near Mission Rock. However, the filling of Mission Bay for the Railroad Transportation Center forced the Club to move.

Waterfront property was purchased in Sausalito and a new Clubhouse erected and opened in September 1878. The Clubhouse was destroyed by fire in 1897 with the loss of most of the trophies and records. Another Clubhouse was built on the same site in time for Opening Day 1898. This building is still standing and now houses the Trident Restaurant. Increasing auto ferry traffic and congestion in the early 1920s made another move imperative.

In 1926, a committee headed by Commodore Clifford Smith recommended that The Club buy the Belvedere Hotel property and the adjacent tidelands which they thought would serve as an ideal location. The purchase was made, and in 1927 the SFYC rented the Pacific Motorboat Club, dredged the Cove to assure a deep-water anchorage, and moved most of its operation to Belvedere from Sausalito.
Slowed by the Depression, a new clubhouse was finally built and opened in 1934 in time for the Opening Day celebration.

In early 1956, a basic harbor plan acceptable to the City of Belvedere and to The Club was approved. Construction was completed and the harbor was opened in late 1957. Originally there were 134 berths in the harbor. By 1960, additional berths were added to bring that number to 175.

A second building at 100 Beach Road was purchased in 1984 from the Dr. Clyde S. Payne family where four generations of that family had lived from 1916 to 1982. After extensive improvements, it was opened for Club use as an auxiliary venue for Club functions and private events and named the Cove House.

In 2018, the Cove House was razed and rebuilt as a much larger, modern building. The new Cove House was opened in 2020.

The San Francisco Yacht Club, with its tranquil setting on Belvedere Cove and its superb harbor, is widely recognized as one of the premier yachting facilities on the West Coast.

SFYC: A Historic Timeline

Take a tour through our history below.