Rainier Yacht Club was established in 1947 out of a desire to serve boat owners on the south end of Lake Washington, specifically those at Rainier Beach where four small marinas were located. Today, RYC is a thriving organization with fun members, a beautiful clubhouse, and reciprocal clubs.
Our History…On the evening of January 14, 1948 in the workshop of Little's Marina at the south end of Lake Washington, about twenty boat owners attended the first official meeting of RAINIER YACHT CLUB. Art Chitty served as temporary Chairman and Harry Beck as Secretary. Rainier Yacht Club was created out of a desire to serve boat owners on the south end of Lake Washington...specifically those at Rainier Beach where four small marinas were located.
Renton, Kennydale, and contiguous areas were also represented. At a meeting on January 28, 1948, by-laws were adopted and the first permanent officers were elected. The by-laws were patterned after those of Queen City Yacht Club, thanks mainly to Dale Cogshall, a Queen City member who served as an adviser to the Rainier group. Art Chitty was elected the first Commodore.
On February 3rd, by-laws were endorsed that would limit club membership to males only. February 10th the design for the burgee was adopted and on March 2nd the club applied for incorporation. All club applications received and approved by April 6th were accorded the status of "charter members".
Our First Club Cruise...The first club cruise, on April 25th, attracted 12 boats to Lake Washington. That month a ladies auxiliary was also formed. However, the name "Rainierettes" was not adopted until 1951.
Our New Clubhouse...The next few months were dedicated to building a clubhouse. A site was leased at Little's Marina, financing was procured, and the basement floor of the clubhouse was planned. The ground breaking occurred on August 25th. During the next year work parties completed the basement facility. In the meantime, regular bi-monthly meetings were held at the Bryn Mawr Clubhouse. In September of 1948 the incumbent officers were re-elected.
Our Racing Debut...In November, 1948, Rainier Yacht Club boats participated in the first running of the Seattle Yacht Club's Interclub Challenge Race. This was the start of Rainier Yacht Club's history of racing participation.
RYC Co-Sponsors International Cruiser Race...The story of any club is a record of people. The early commodores, Art Chitty, Roy Palm, Cal Eddy, Harold Wilson, Ev Henry and Ed Tuttle all made major contributions to the establishment of Rainier Yacht Club. Possibly the most active was Ev Henry, commodore in 1952. It was Ev who persuaded the fledgling club, along with the IPBA, that Rainier Yacht Club could and should sponsor the start of the 1952 International Cruiser Race. Largely through Ev Henry's efforts and contacts with other yacht clubs from Olympia to Bellingham, a record of 192 boats entered the race. This record has never been equaled!
RYC leads drive to preserve Sucia Island for boaters... Rainier Yacht Club commodore Everett (Ev) Henry spearheaded a drive in 1952 to raise money to purchase Sucia Island from developers. The Interclub (now incarnated as the Recreational Boaters Association of Washington) was formed and $25,000 was raised to purchase the land. In 1960, that land was donated to State Parks for use as a marine park
International Order of the Blue Gavel founded...In September, 1952, Past Commodores Chitty, Palm, and Henry organized the Blue Gavel Club as an organization for Past Commodores. This organization has grown into the International Order of the Blue Gavel with chapters across the United States, in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and Great Britain.
RYC hits the charts in racing...In 1954 Rainier Yacht Club sponsored its first Invitational Course and Compass Race on Lake Washington. In later years this race was transferred to Puget Sound and is now jointly sponsored by Rainier and Poulsbo Yacht Clubs. The year 1954 is also remembered by this young club as the year it swept the major races, with RYC skippers winning the Bremerton Heavy Weather Race, Tyee Ladies Day Race, Over-all in the IPBA International Race, the RYC Invitational Course and Compass Race, and the Seattle Yacht Club Invitational Challenge Race!
Clubhouse expanded...As the club became more established, there was more pressure to complete the upper floor of the clubhouse. In 1957 Commodore Randy Rockhill headed up a successful effort to raise funds and obtain financing for completion of the building. Past commodores Alex Thompson and Wes Wilkes, along with Eric Kinnard, completed the drawings and plans and obtained the required permits. Construction began in early 1958. That fall the first Commodore's Ball in the clubhouse honored Commodore Stan Stevenson.
Women given the Vote...In 1975 the mortgage was burned. By that time, RYC was well established and a leader in the northwest boating fraternity. The by-laws were changed to allow wives (and/or spouses) to become full fledged members of Rainier Yacht Club. It remains one of the few northwest yacht clubs to allow full and independent status to all spouses.
Boating activities continue...In 1986, due primarily to the efforts of P/C Bert Ward, lighted and decorated boats paraded for Christmas around the south end of Lake Washington for the first time. It has become an annual tradition. RYC is also an annual participant in the Christmas Special People's Cruise, Tacoma Daffodil Boat Parade, and Opening Day Parade. RYC was also instrumental in securing Sucia Island as a part of the Washington State Parks system and is active in the Recreational Boating Association of Washington and National Boating Federation.
First woman commodore in major Inter-Club group elected...In 1991, Rainier Yacht Club distinguished itself once again by electing Carlene Striker as Commodore...the first woman Commodore in the Grand Fourteen Group!! This same year Rear Commodore Sam Olsson organized a group of hard workers and, with approval from the Board, built a deck ("Fire Escape") which enhanced club activities and provided a separate smoking area.
Clubhouse kitchen refurbished...In 2006, Commodore Cheryl Webber organized an auction to raise funds to modernize the kitchen and women’s upstairs restroom. Members worked hard to collect donations for the auction. The dinner, wine tasting and auction raised over $14,000.
RYC again makes history...June 5, 2007: Richard Leonard became the first African-American Commodore in the Grand 14.
RYC embraces new technology...March 6, 2012: inducted new members via Skype.
RYC celebrates 70 years!... 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of Rainier Yacht Club!