Sailing has always played an important role on the Wear and is recognised as one of the early centres for the sport.
There have been what was termed "Aquatic Events" at Sunderland since 1837 when, on July 21st & 22nd races in sailing cobles, rowing cobles, lug sail boats, 6 oared gigs, 4 oared gigs, 2 oared boats and keels took place before 20,000 spectators. This was the first official regatta to be held on the northeast coast.
In 1856 the Wear Yacht Club was formed. The Commodore in the first year was Lt. Col. The Right Hon. Earl Vane. The Club in the first year attracted one hundred and fifteen members with a subscription of one guinea. The Club's first regatta was held for the Gold Cup valued at eighty guineas and was for boats over 40 tons TM (Thames Measurement) and was won by a cutter called Amazon (46 tons TM) owned by A.J.Young. The regatta was so important that J.Hall, who had "Grip" (91 tons TM) built especially for the regatta, but did not turn up. In the same year the Wear Yacht Club was granted an Admiralty Warrant and became the Royal Wear Yacht Club. In 1866 the Sunderland Regatta was established by Commodore E.T.Gourley, Mayor of Sunderland. This quickly developed into a very successful event lasting most of the week. In 1883 the event included yacht racing off Roker with classes for yachts 20 tons TM, 10 – 20 tons TM and under 10 tons TM. Other sailing classes were held for decked fishing boats and pilot cobbles.
With the build up of powered craft the "Royal Wear Yacht Club" saw a decline and a new club was established in 1911 called "Sunderland Motor Boat and Yacht Club". This Club comprised members of the former club and others and held a series of successful regattas until it closed at the outbreak of war in 1914. The Club suffered heavily as a result of the war and it was not revived until 1935. In 1935 the Club was resurrected by Sir Hedworth Williamson as President, Major J.P. Kayll as Commodore and Selby Ord as Secretary. This Club was named Sunderland Yacht Club. During the intervening years sailing had continued at the Regattas but there was no formal club.
From 1935 the Club developed by first building a clubhouse on the west side of the North Dock. This was a brick built building and stood on the top of the old staiths retaining wall. During the war the navy occupied the Clubhouse and after the end of war the membership had dwindled to twenty so the clubhouse was sold to the Sea Scouts. After the end of the war in 1946 the Club started again from a new wooden building, which was located at the base of the staiths retaining wall on the west side of the North Dock. In 1957 alterations to the North Dock entrance saw the Club relocated again to the site close to where we are now. The clubhouse was again wooden which proved more than adequate through to the 1990s. As the area was redeveloped the Club was rebuilt on the present site with the aid of funding from Tyne & Wear Development Corporation and the Lottery. In 2008 Sunderland Yacht Club achieved RYA Volvo Championship Club status.
Last updated 21:20 on 22 March 2021