Houston Yacht Club
In 1897, after a summer filled with boating excursions, sailing parties, and two hotly contested regattas, a group of yachtsmen organized the Houston Yacht Club (HYC), which is, today, the oldest yacht club in Texas.
In 1897, the Houston Yacht Club (HYC) was officially organized, following a summer filled with boating excursions. Dan E. Kennedy, a former Texas Ranger, was elected the first commodore of the HYC at a meeting held in the Binz Building, Houston’s first skyscraper, on February 2, 1898.
In 1905, the members reorganized as the Houston Yacht & Power Boat Club. Members continued to hold meetings in downtown Houston and moor their boats at the club wharf on Buffalo Bayou near Allen’s Landing. The organization's purpose included promoting, encouraging, and developing both the science and sport of boating. In addition the club aimed to maintain a cleaner and healthier bayou. Lumber magnate John H. Kirby donated his steamboat, the Lawrence, to the Club to promote interest in Houston’s fledgling ship channel and Galveston Bay’s commercial and recreational potential. After two more years, in 1907, the Club once again reorganized as the Houston Launch Club.
Starting in 1907, the Houston Launch Club, with its impressive fleet of motor cruisers, continued to meet downtown for the next three years. In 1910, the Launch Club built a club house on Buffalo Bayou in Harrisburg, which is now part of Houston’s East End, opposite Brady Island and today's Port of Houston turning basin. In addition to encouraging and organizing sailing, power boating, and canoeing events, a primary focus of the Club remained promoting the development of the Houston Ship Channel and Houston as a deep water port.
After World War I, the sailing members of the Houston Launch Club, ready to compete in regattas with other clubs in the South, began a movement to relocate the Club to Galveston Bay where practicing their sailing skills would be more convenient. In 1923, these members established a sailing facility in Seabrook known as the “Houston Yacht Club, Launch Club Bayshore Home.”
In 1926, the two groups began selling their respective properties and pooling resources to build the Shoreacres clubhouse, near LaPorte, on Galveston Bay. Retaining the Houston Yacht Club name and the burgee of the Houston Launch Club, they moved into their “magnificent and commodious” Spanish building in July of 1927. This three story stucco building, affectionately referred to as the “Pink Palace,” has provided a warm home on the Bay for member families for almost 75 years.
The grand clubhouse, inspired by the Houston Launch Club’s longstanding mission to promote both the city of Houston as well as the Club, would continue to signal the commitment to Houston as a deep water port. In addition, the club worked to collectively benefit recreational boating and yachting.
Due, in part to the success of commercial shipping interests and growth of the port infrastructure, the Yacht Club flourished in their new location: large crowds consistently attended regattas, while speed-boating became increasingly popular.
During World War II, the club house was occupied by the U.S. Coast Guard, which converted it into a training facility. As in World War I, members and their boats went to war. Their power boats were used to help patrol the Houston Ship Channel, a vital oil port.
From its landmark home on upper Galveston Bay, HYC continues a long established tradition of organizing regattas, hosting national and world championships, and promoting Houston as a nationally recognized yacht racing and recreational boating center.
Champions and Championships
The Crescent, owned by the Hamilton brothers, of shirt-making fame, raced in the Fourth of July regatta of 1897 at La Porte, off Sylvan Beach, in Galveston Bay. After this regatta, the Houston Yacht Club was formed.
Despite the ravages of the Great Storm of 1900, along with the Spanish-American war at the turn of the century, regattas were held at Seabrook and Galveston in the early years as well.
The yacht club participated in a number of regatta's and various other events.
Champions and Championships
In 1921, members of the Houston Launch Club (which was a reorganized and renamed iteration of Houston Yacht Club) arrived in Pensacola, Florida for the Lipton Fish Class challenge.
In July 1927, the Mississippi Valley Power Boat Regatta was held in Galveston and hosted by the Houston Launch Club in the same year that the club moved to Galveston Bay.
Two years later, in 1929, the Houston Launch Club hosted the national Lipton Cup competition, which was only two years after moving into its home on Galveston Bay, Shoreacres.
The club would go on to host many more regional, national, and international competitions in Galveston Bay. A number of the club's sailors have also gone on to compete nationally and internationally, including Olympic sailors John Kolius and Charlie Ogletree.