The history of the Dana Point Yacht Club parallels the growth of South Orange County and the development of the Dana Point Harbor.
The yacht club was organized in July 1952 by twenty-five charter members with a common interest in boating. The goal was to provide facilities for open water boat launching within the protection of the Dana Point cove. Malcolm Pierce became the first Commodore. Membership was limited to 100 members and meetings were held in a clubhouse located on Blue Lantern Street in Dana Point.
The Club signed a 5-year lease with Orange County so members could construct a launching ramp with an electric winch to launch and retrieve their boats through the surf. Access to the cove, its small beach and great surfing area was by the steep and narrow Cove Road down the face of the cliffs. But in 1958, the County decided to develop Dana Point cove area, a new pier was planned at the site of the launch ramp. The Club agreed to terminate its lease with the County.
The first Club burgee was designed and proudly flown by members on their boats in June 1965. In 1969 Dana Point Yacht Club joined the Southern California Yachting Association and the North American Yacht Racing Union. From 1967 through 1972 was a critical period during the building of a harbor at Dana Point. The club voted to expand membership to 400 members.
In the summer of 1970, 120 youths participated in sailing instruction classes and active competition with neighboring Newport Harbor clubs. The program was open the children of both members and non-members and continues today.
On March 17, 1972, in the newly constructed harbor the club proudly opened their new clubhouse, the first building to the east of the bridge on the island, approximately 4,000 square feet. The members installed an elevator to conform to the County codes. A portion of the parking lot at the corner was set up as a dry storage yard and a hoist was installed to launch the small boats in a turning basin between A and B docks. Sabot racks were built for the Junior program. The women's auxiliary was formed as the Buoys' Belles. Six offshore racing marks were installed.
In 1973 the Club inaugurated a full schedule of racing activities and became a member of the Association of Orange Coast Yacht Clubs (see Race History). They had their first cruise to Emerald Cove at Corsair Yacht Club's facility on Catalina Island. Seminars were held at the clubhouse to teach basics of boating safety, racing, cruising, fishing, and first aid at sea.
The Club attained the full 400 membership in 1978. In January 1979, SCYA recognizing our Club's consistently high level of yachting activities, granted Dana Point Yacht Club the highest stature of senior membership. The next year, they were invited to join the Yacht Racing Union of Southern California. The Club obtained the guest docking facilities at the end of "C" dock. The activities, including the youth program, races, cruises, fishing and social events made for a very active club.
Milestones and Moments of Note
Growth continued in the Club facilities with expansion of the building completed in 1983. The USYRU Champion of Champions Regatta was held at DPYC and won by member Hobie Alter, Jr. Computer systems were installed in 1988. The race program continued to improve and expand. The trophies for the yacht club having the most entries and the most winners in the annual NOSA Ensenada Race were earned in competition with much larger clubs up and down the Pacific Coast.
1992, the Club supported member and sailboard sailor, Lanee Butler, in her efforts to become a member of the U.S. Olympic team. Lanee finished 5th in the Barcelona Olympics. She carried our burgee on to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, and Australia in 2000 as well.
In 1993 Dana Point Yacht Club won the PHRF Championship Regatta and were then host club for the 1994 regatta which they won, and then again hosted the 1995 regatta. Race seminars were held especially for the Ensenada race and members continue to win trophies as well as the Club trophies. An invitational race was instituted to be sailed each fall between the Commodores of all the yacht clubs.
1997 Dana Point Yacht Club entered the computer age with its own website. Also plans were discussed regarding the revitalization plan for the harbor.
Early in 1998 negotiations began for the purchase of the building at the west end of the island in Dana Point harbor. The purchase of the building was completed thanks to a self-funding plan carried out by the members. Along with our new clubhouse, membership voted to increase the membership limit to 425 members. The Richard Henry Dana Charity Regatta® was started in 1999 with over $50,000 raised. This is an annual event with a sailing regatta, junior races, fishing derby and other activities.
Members voted once again to increase the membership limit, now to 500 members, at the General Meeting of 2001. Clubhouse improvements continued, including installation of a new elevator. Dana Point Yacht Club won the trophy for the most trophies in the 54th annual Newport to Ensenada race. DPYC took the trophy, again, for the most entries in the Newport to Ensenada sailing race. DPYC hosted over 65 days of racing including the world class Mallory and Adams Cup Area J Eliminations.
In 2002 Dana Point Yacht Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Also, "Yacht Club of the Year" was a proud title for DPYC for the third time.
Once again our racers were victorious in the Newport to Ensenada race in 2003, bringing home 10 trophies from the race which was almost double that of any other club. We even brought home the brand new "Spirit of Ensenada" trophy, deeded to NOSA from DPYC, as the club with the most trophies. The Juniors made winning accomplishments in their major racing events. Our youth are the lifeline of our club and we intend to nurture this most valuable asset.
The race program at DPYC, one of our strongest attributes, was competitive with any club in our area. In 2006 DPYC was well represented by Horizon in the Victoria-Maui Race, Horizon and Commotion on the Newport-Cabo Race, and the YRUSC Silver Cup Match Race, J24 Regionals to name a few. Fishing had their first DPYC charter trip in a long time with Loreto, Mexico as the destination.
In 2007 the club chose our neighbor across the west basin, The Ocean Institute, as our charitable beneficiary for the Richard Henry Dana Charity Regatta®. The choice fit well with DPYC’s desire to inspire participation of on the water activities for the youth of southern California. As for racing, the Newport to Ensenada Race was considered one of the slowest in 40 years, but DPYC still walked away, again, with the most boat entries award – we had a record number of 37 participating boats. Six club members returned home with awards in hand. And cheers to our three Transpac racers, Horizon, Brilliant, and Mystere.
Throughout 2007 DPYC representatives met with Dana Point Harbor administrators (the County of Orange) in preparation for our lease renewal which comes up in 2012. Since the Harbor is proceeding with a revitalization plan, there will be many changes. However, Dana Point Yacht Club plans to remain an active yacht club within the harbor.
2008 started out with members qualifying for the J/24 World Championship Regatta in Sardinia, Italy and the Club conducting fundraisers to support the team trip. DPYC hosted the social event for the Hobie Cat 40th Anniversary Regatta held in Dana Point. All attendees were pleased to see Hobie Alter, Sr. there at age 75. The year also brought a harrowing race story when one of our best woman skippers and one of her crew were both thrown off her boat during the Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race. Their rescue included fast actions by the crew on board, other participating sailors, and the U.S. Coast Guard. DPYC also added to its membership another world champion racer who was a gold medalist of the World Disabled Sailing Championships and a Paralympics qualifier and participant.
2008 also saw the beginning of a very important event, our Marine Appreciation fishing & sailing event! The fishing group made a trip to East Cape Baja Mexico where the fish count ended up: 35 Tuna (all over 40 lbs., largest over 60), 21 Dorado (mostly around 15 lbs), 7 Sailfish, 1 Marlin, & 1 Roosterfish!
In 2009 we had some very successful DPYC racers in the Transpac where Horizon placed 1st, Relentless placed 2nd in class and 1st in double handed, Far Niente placed 2nd and Relentless II placed 4th. Also, one of our DPYC Juniors, Brian Bolton, raced the 29er circuit culminating with a 3rd Overall finish in the 29er Worlds in Riva del Garda, Italy. Brian continued in 2010 with podium finishes at both the 29er Pacific Coast and North American Championships, and an invitation to the US Junior Olympics in the 29er Class, winning a Gold Medal there!
2010 brought another major racing accomplishment for one of DPYC's members. Jack Taylor's Horizon, a Santa Cruz 50, took 1st place honors across the board with a “Clean Sweep” in the Pacific Cup! --- 1st to Finish, 1st in Fleet, 1st in Class, the Latitude 38 Performance Trophy, and crew Jon Shampain won the Navigator Award! Horizon’s Pacific Cup crew included DPYC members John Berry, Erik Shampain, Jason Adamson and Peter Kornhaber. Horizon also set a Santa Cruz 50 Pacific Cup crossing record of 8 days, 11 hours, 46 minutes.
Thanking our military service men and women remains a strong component at DPYC. The Club sent invitations out to Camp Pendleton Marines for fishing and sailing days, as well as, a prime rib dinner to feed our team of warriors and their families. A special Marines event also remains a key day of our Richard Henry Dana Charity Regatta ®.
During 2011 Port Captain, Dave Griffin prepared the Club to be certified in the new state required Clean Marina program. Volunteers formed a Hazardous Waste Response Team which would practice periodic drills such as responding to an oil spill, as well as, training for fire suppression. Mark Doliva volunteered to conduct the Clean Marina Program’s required training sessions. Gary MacCleverty recruited a hazardous waste response team comprised of Club members who are very capable retired firemen. Another item of note in 2011 was the introduction of our first online Ship's Store on the Club website.
In 2012 the Club's long term, ongoing discussions and negotiations on our lease with the County neared conclusion. The year was also highlighted by a very special event in March, in which famed waterman/surfer/sailor Mickey Munoz, a DPYC Honorary Member, held a book signing of his new book No Bad Waves. A major clubhouse improvement also came in 2012 with club volunteers constructing a huge, marble top bar in our main dining room. Since member Bert Donaldson was the “project manager” the new bar became affectionately known as Bert's Bar.
2013 brought the end of our lease that was in existence when we bought the Clubhouse facilities in 1998. A new lease with the County of Orange now ensures our presence in the harbor long into the future.