|The Long Beach Yacht Club, now internationally known for the Congressional Cup sailboat regatta, began in 1929 for the purposes of planning a powerboat race between Long Beach and San Francisco.
The proposed race would be run during the San Francisco Motor Boat Show to provide advertising for the show and Northern California boating industries. The Associated Boating Industries of Northern California wrote Daniel M. Callis, Sr., a Long Beach architect active in boating and local yacht clubs requesting a Long Beach area club act as the Southern California host of the race. His drive to pursue this opportunity led to the formation of Long Beach Yacht Club. His early vision of passionate club members leading yachting contests has continued throughout the club’s history.
The First Race
The concept of the race was to use a handicapping system, going from Long Beach to an overnight stay in Santa Barbara, then to another overnight stay in Monterey, and finishing in San Francisco for a total distance of 460 miles -- the longest powerboat race in the world. The winner would receive a trophy donated by Sir Thomas Lipton then-valued at $1,000.
Callis agreed to be general chairman of the executive committee and promoter of the race. Committee work would be handled by the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, Monterey Chamber of Commerce, Santa Barbara Yacht Club and Associated Boating Industries of Northern California.
Callis initially offered the sponsorship of the race to the California Yacht Club; however, CYC declined on the basis that it would not have complete jurisdiction over the race. Callis then met with Charles Camp and Norman Able (all three would become commodores of LBYC), and a decision was made to run the race under the auspices of a “Long Beach Yacht Club,” which reportedly might have existed at some prior time but no longer did so.
Despite problems with finding enough entries, the first race was run in April 1929 by a Long Beach Yacht Club, the burgee (flag) for which was made by the wife of prominent Long Beach attorney Jonah Jones, Jr. and flown in the race. The winner was Arthur Macrate (LBYC commodore in 1931) in his Zoa III.
This first race was viewed as a great success, future races were anticipated and it seemed that it might be time to form a real Long Beach Yacht Club.
A Real Long Beach Yacht Club
Callis, Macrate, Camp, Able and others met at St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco to see if there was support for the concept of a real Long Beach Yacht Club. There was, and a subsequent meeting was called by Jonah Jones, Jr. on September 6, 1929 to present the concept to a group of Long Beach businessmen interested in yachting. They agreed to form a real Long Beach Yacht Club.
Widely acclaimed speedboat racer Richard Loynes was elected commodore, and on October 7, 1929 Jonah Jones, Jr. filed the Articles of Incorporation. Charter memberships were extended to 100 individuals. Despite collapse of the stock market, the new and real LBYC soon had 100 members paying dues of $5 per year; $2.50 for kids.
The Club Starts Rapid Growth
Less than a week after filing the Articles of Incorporation, the new LBYC began by organizing a speedboat race between Long Beach and Avalon for October 11-12, 1929. Boats were to be 16 to 30 feet in length with inboard engines (some expected to be 500 hp). Officials were from LBYC and the Catalina Island Yacht Club, and this race also began a long and close relationship between the two clubs, including overlapping memberships and flag officers.
By February 1930, only four months after incorporation, membership had increased to approximately 150, and arrangements for meeting space had been secured at the Pacific Coast Club. Planning was underway for the second Long Beach to San Francisco powerboat race, and “plans were being formulated for the finest yachting harbor on the Pacific Coast at Long Beach.”
On April 24, 1930, the “Second Annual All-California Power Cruiser Race to San Francisco” started off Belmont Pier, with 10 of the 21 entries flying the LBYC burgee. Not surprisingly, given the time of year, the boats encountered heavy weather and considerable damage was done to boats and participants.
Arthur Macrate (then vice commodore) did well in that second race in the vessel Hermana, but interest in future long-distance powerboat races started to be diluted as other races and events were organized.
Looking for a Marina and Clubhouse
The installation of D. M. Callis as commodore was held at the Pacific Coast Club with 125 in attendance. Special guests included the commodores of Catalina Island Yacht Club, California Yacht Club and Los Angeles Yacht Club. An important agenda item at the installation was a discussion on developing a yacht harbor in Long Beach followed by the construction of a clubhouse.
There was definite need for a yacht harbor. Forty yachts were reported temporarily moored in the outer harbor of Long Beach in “exceedingly unfavorable locations, generally where water is dirty and frequently covered with oil.”
Using the Pacific Coast Club as its headquarters, discussions began with the City of Long Beach and County of Los Angeles regarding development in Alamitos Bay and plans were formulated to “begin construction of a clubhouse as soon as a definite location for a yacht harbor has been determined by the city.” Key individuals in this effort included: Jonah Jones, Jr.; Frank Garbutt of the California Yacht Club, Pacific Coast Club and Los Angeles Athletic Club; Arthur Macrate; George L. Craig; Norman Able; Charles Camp; Sam Selover; and D. M. Callis.
Despite the influence of this group, the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach agreed in 1931 to build a bridge over the mouth of the San Gabriel River linking Seal Beach with Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach (which at that time ran down the Alamitos peninsula). This bridge, which would prevent access to all but small craft having less than 14 feet overhead clearance curtailed serious development of Alamitos Bay as an important yacht harbor for the next two decades.
The formal approval of plans for the first LBYC clubhouse on June 30, 1936 reportedly started a flurry of fundraising and “sweat equity” on the part of members. By opening day of the regatta season, May 8, 1937, the facilities apparently were fully paid for.
The clubhouse was located west of downtown Long Beach a 2,000-foot “stroll to paradise” out a boardwalk from the shore (under what is now the Port of Long Beach). There were moorings, a Star Boat dock adjacent to the clubhouse and an anchorage area. There was no boardwalk beyond the clubhouse, but access to the L-shaped end of the moorage was accessible by walking over the rocks to the other side. There are unconfirmed but apparently valid reports that young ladies from the neighborhood enjoyed walking out beyond the clubhouse and skinny dipping inside the L-shaped end of the secluded anchorage.
After years of having to moor boats up and down the coast, or in less-than-favorable locations in Long Beach’s inner and outer harbors, members were understandably delighted with their new facilities. The clubhouse was described as having “a snug club-room, a snugger galley” and two heads.
The War Years Were Approaching
Despite some records stating LBYC either sold or donated its first clubhouse to the Sea Scouts in 1939, newspaper articles indicate that the facility was still in the hands of the club during much of 1940 and perhaps even part of 1941. Opening day 1940 reportedly was celebrated at the clubhouse, but by November 1941, the facility was in the hands of the Sea Scouts.
LBYC was once again a “paper club” with no clubhouse, but the yachting and social activities continued for a while despite the growing influence of world events.
World War II would change the lives of many club members, and markedly affect boating for several years. It would also mark the real beginning of Alamitos Bay as a marina and, ultimately, home for the club’s second clubhouse.
Alamitos Bay and the Second Clubhouse
Beginning as early as the 1920s, individuals who subsequently became prominent members of LBYC were instrumental in the development of Alamitos Bay and the marina. The second, and current, clubhouse simply could not be sited and constructed until the bay was protected from disastrous floods and the marina constructed.
After major efforts by members, an initial lease for the clubhouse site was obtained in March 1959. The lease was expanded in January 1960 to include the clubhouse building as well as the access to Basin 4 slips adjacent to the clubhouse. In September 1969 the lease was extended to 2020.
Groundbreaking for the current clubhouse on Appian Way was held on June 1, 1960, and dedication ceremonies were December 16, 1960. The club was now positioned to expand rapidly and gain the recognition and stature it now enjoys within the worldwide yachting community.
Long Beach Yacht Club Today
LBYC membership stands at 1,000 regular members. It thrives on the constant activities provided for the members that include racing, yachting, fishing, diving, swimming, social programs and youth activities.
The club is actively engaged in community outreach programs using the same Catalina 37s used in Congressional Cup. Activities include: the Marcedes Lewis Regatta with six Boys and Girls Club teams participating this year. Jordan High Schools students sailed in The Panthers at Sea program and another group of Boys and Girls Club kids raced in the Wet Wednesday races.
The Patriot Regatta, our premier community event, also attracted a record participation level with five branches of the armed forces racing; Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy teams aggressively competed against each other. New this year in May, the club has planned a Heroes regatta with teams from our local Police and Fire Departments competing.
Of all the activities available to members, the youth programming is perhaps the most popular. Sailing and swimming lessons for little ones, swim team meets and regattas for competitive children all provide solid learning and teambuilding experiences in the aquatic environment.
As LBYC moves forward, current and future leaders will balance tradition and value with change to meet the needs of its members. In addition to the 50th anniversary of Congressional Cup, this year LBYC celebrate its 85th anniversary and is positioning itself for continued success.