The Shelter Island Yacht Club, established in the summer of 1886, has the distinction of being one of the oldest clubs in North America. The founding members were business and professional men from Manhattan and Brooklyn who had summer residences in Shelter Island Heights. Their purpose was to further recreational sailing, racing, water sports festivals, extended cruises, and social fellowship.
For nearly 50 years, the Shelter Island Yacht Club fleet remained a miscellany of elegant steam and sailing yachts of all sizes. The original clubhouse, built on Chequit Point in lovely Dering Harbor in 1892, was little more than one large room completely girdled by open verandas furnished with stout rocking chairs.
As the membership gradually grew to 250, the clubhouse sprouted numerous additions to provide better galley, dining, dancing, and docking facilities. A Junior Yacht Club, organized in the late 1920s, acquired a home of its own in 1958.
The history of Shelter Island Yacht Club since World War I is reflected in a memorable succession of one-design fleets: Nationals, Wee Scots, Stars, Wood Pussys, Comets, Lightnings, Blue Jays, Penguins, Lasers, Etchells, Herreshoff 12 1/2s, Stuart Knockabout, 420s, and Optimist Prams, not to mention Puffers, Sunfish, and Sailfish.
The hallmark of the club since World War II is a solid commitment to junior sailing. Each summer of late, over 100 children participate in the club’s Junior Sailing Program.
In 2008 our own Amanda Clark and her crew, Sarah Merganthaler, competed in the 2008 Olympics in China in the International 470 class. Clark returned to the Olympics in 2012 with new crew Sarah Lihan.