The Halifax River Yacht Club (HRYC) was founded in 1896.
The town of Daytona, Florida was less than 20 years old and the area was still considered alligator territory. America was growing fast, and most of the country outside of Daytona was experiencing the Industrial Revolution.
In the history book The Reckless Years, the author tells about America in the 1890’s when such magnates as Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller were in their prime and enjoyed the luxury of a sport call “yachting”.
The five men — Owen S. Porter, Charles S. Starr, Lyman H. Robbins, Edward C. Atwood, and Sumner H. Gove, who drafted our By-Laws and Constitution — wanted to enjoy the sport of yachting along with their more celebrated countrymen.
Their homes were near the broad Halifax River, and on weekends they loved to sail their gaff-rigged catboats. The Atlantic Ocean was only a few sand dunes away. The location and environment were ideal. All they needed was a clubhouse and docks.
On 8 January 1896, thirteen prominent townsmen held the first recorded meeting to establish the Halifax River Yacht Club. At this first meeting the Club was unanimously approved and Victor Villaume was elected the first Commodore, with a five member Board of Trustees. (We’ve had 102 Commodores in the past 117 years, some serving more than once.)
On 24 January 1896 applications for membership were submitted and in February, 31 members were elected to the Yacht Club. Treasurer E.G. Harris was instructed to collect from each member a $10 initiation fee and 50 cents dues per month. (We now have approximately 685 members.)
Permission was received in March from Laurence Thompson — a founding father of Daytona and one of the original 13 members — to construct a wharf and connect it to the wall in front of his premises on Beach Street, including the “riparian rights”. Soon after, a 150-foot wharf was built for $225. Mr. Gove, a local architect and member, built the original clubhouse. Our present clubhouse and docks still remain on their original site where they were first built over 100 years ago. We are the only yacht club on the eastern seacoast to have this distinction. Our club and organization is one of the few, if not the only, to be in continuous operation in the Halifax area since its inception.
For a period early in the 20th century, powerboats came to dominate over sail, but sailboats became popular again after World War II. Many improvements were made to the clubhouse, with a rebirth of ocean racing. In 1978, the TransAt or Daytona to Bermuda Race was conceived by Mac Smith and implemented by Don Shaw, active members of H.R.Y.C. The TransAt was a 950-mile contest to St. George Dinghy Club in Bermuda. This race usually was a grueling competition, performed only by sail and basic navigation without any auxiliary help. It was a class act by yachting standards, and for a club our size to organize and compete in a race of this magnitude showed that we are a club uniquely above the average.
In 1998 HRYC, together with the Charleston Yacht Club, initiated the first “Gulfstreamer” race. The event originated in Daytona Beach, ending in Charleston, S.C. - 225 miles north. These events and all the other sailing events during the year, together with many social events on shore, reinforce our identity as an active yacht club of which we can be proud.
The 21st century began with plans for a new clubhouse to replace the “Grand Old Lady” which had served so well for well over a century.
Construction began in 2005 the current structure, a larger, two-story clubhouse with pool and meeting rooms.