City Island Yacht Club

Incorporated 1907

CIYC building

Our History

The City Island Yacht Club (CIYC) was formed during the Winter of 1904-1905. At first, the Club was located at Herman Cordes’ boathouse on the west side of City Island Avenue, just north of Ditmar Street. Ike Tabor designed the Club’s burgee and it was first raised on May 30, 1905. CIYC incorporated on May 17, 1907 for the purpose of “Yachting; encouragement of yacht building and naval architecture; inter-club and other competitions and the cultivation of naval science.” Samuel Smith served as CIYC’s first Commodore.

In 1910, CIYC moved to a one story building on the west side of City Island Avenue, north of Cross Street, what is now the parking lot for The Harbor Restaurant. The building was owned by Cap Walters, a very active member of the Club. In July of that year, Robert Jacob, owner of a prominent shipyard on the site of what is now Consolidated Yacht Yard, donated a flagstaff with topmast and yardarm. The mast came from the schooner yacht Queen Mab. The original topmast remains in use to this day at the present clubhouse.

In 1911, John Barrett became CIYC’s first club steward. The following year, Ted Kaufer became Commodore and served through 1913. That year, the Club moved to the other end of Cross Street on the East side of the Island. This new home originally was the residence of the famous Captain Charles Barr. The site later housed the Grant’s Canoe Club and is now the site of new apartments. CIYC leased the Cross Street property for ten years with an option to purchase. A porch, lockers, dock and seawall were built and numerous interior changes were made.

CIYC moved again in May 1919 to the foot of Pilot Street West on the south side (what is now the Pickwick Terrace Apartments) and stayed there for almost two years. Charles Cafferty was Commodore from 1919-23 and, in 1921, members Walters, Sayers, Huebner and Frapwell joined Commodore Cafferty in negotiations for the purchase of the present clubhouse on the North side of Pilot Street. Upon acquiring the property, the interior of the building was entirely rebuilt. Louis Huebner took on the job of building the summer house, dance hall, porch and part of the runway. In 1930, the Club took title to the Reynolds Street property, including the water rights. This greatly increased the size of the Club’s yard.

With the end of prohibition, CIYC obtained a liquor license. The early thirties marked a period of growth. Then, in 1938, a severe hurricane struck doing great damage to the clubhouse and sinking many boats in the fleet. It was a year before repairs were completed and normal activity could resume. The war years were quiet for the Club with many members in the armed forces or otherwise involved in the war effort.

Although the Club had joined the YRA of Long Island Sound in 1914, it was Commodore Henry Sayers (1926-27) who instituted the active racing program that has been followed ever since. In 1954, the Atlantic Coast Star Class Championships, defended by Herb Hild (owner of Hild Sails), the 1953 winner, were held at the Club.

A rich racing tradition continues today with CIYC boats entering and winning many On the Sound races, the Around Long Island race, Block Island Race Week, as well as races from Halifax to Key West to the Newport to Bermuda race.