The Sussex Yacht Club was established in 1892 by a group of yachting enthusiasts 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.
Shortly after the end of the first world war, on the 17th May 1919, the club reformed as the Sussex Yacht Club. However, this fast-growing band of 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’ rented from the Shoreham Harbourmaster at the time, Albert Sweet. 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 an old boat – and the amount of bailing required to keep her afloat suggested that another new home was needed. Therefore, in1926 it was decided that the Club should be formed into a limited company, enabling it to raise funds equitably from the members. This facilitated the purchase of the ‘Old Malt House’, fronting the Southwick canal. SYC now had a large clubhouse and more water frontage than the neighbouring Schooner Inn – where they once struggled to pay rent on a single room!
This building is still in use today as the SYC Southwick clubhouse and overlooks the extensive club moorings.
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 boatshed situated on the south bank of the river Adur) which is opposite the current Shoreham Clubhouse.
In 1950, the continuing need for greater facilities for member use was met by the purchase from His Grace, the Duke of Norfolk, of the freehold of Stow’s Shipyard. This extensive freehold, fronting the north bank of the River Adur at Shoreham, included a spacious clubhouse, excellent laying up and fitting out facilities and slipways. These were further enhanced at the beginning of this century with the help of lottery funding, which meant that the previous Shoreham Clubhouse enjoyed improved high-quality facilities, with full disabled access throughout and a greatly enlarged boat park. This is the site where the main clubhouse is now situated.
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.
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,of which we are enormously proud, enabling disabled people to sail, which is now a thriving section of the Club.
Our past Commodore (and long serving member) David Skinner took over the role of Admiral in 2020, and remains a stalwart of the club.
We also welcomed Sussex Motor Yacht Club back to our Shoreham Clubhouse in 2021, providing them with a waterside base which they had been without for several years.
The River Adur burst its banks in 2013, causing severe flooding to the previous Shoreham Clubhouse, Brighton Road and throughout Shoreham Town Centre. It had become evident that a flood defence wall needed to be constructed to protect Shoreham from future flooding, which would need to be erected alongside the main road and on the land where the old Clubhouse stood. Adur and Worthing Council purchased the land to build the vital flood defences Shoreham needed.
Sussex Yacht Club was then able to build a replacement clubhouse, which after delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit implications, could finally open its doors in 2021.
Our award winning new clubhouse has been constructed with state-of-the-art facilities and meeting rooms, a modern restaurant called Stow’s, and private members’ lounge with the clubhouse enjoying the best views in Shoreham, overlooking the River Adur.
The Club currently has over 1,700 members and boasts its amazing variety of year round ‘on the water’ activities in addition to a full calendar of social events, giving opportunities for everyone to get involved.