Manhattan Sailing Club was established in 1987. The club re-introduced recreational sailing to the harbor after an absence of more than 60 years.
The club started at South Street Seaport with 12 J/24s on floating docks between the tall ships “Peking” and “Wavertree.”
During its first years of existence, the club experienced an economic roller-coaster. The inaugural year of 1987 brought a large growth in membership only to see the stock market crash in October, taking with it many individual and corporate members. The club rebounded and created and hosted the first International Yacht Club Challenge in 1988. By 1989, the club was again growing strong with the second International Yacht Club Challenge being co-hosted by Yacht Club de Monaco and sponsored by the World Link Club of Osaka, Japan.
But 1989 and 1990 were times of corporate restructuring followed by a recession. By 1991, the club stood at a low of 115 members. But these were committed members who worked to create a better organization, improve the fleet and continue the club programs.
In 1993, the club started expanding by establishing the Manhattan Sailing School in order to offer sailing instruction to new sailors. Until this point, the club had been primarily a racing organization. In 1994, the club moved from the Seaport to North Cove Yacht Harbor. North Cove offered the club a higher quality facility. Then membership began growing. From 115 in 1994, the club grew in the following years to 150, 200, 270 and in 1998, to 320.
In 1997, the club established its first clubhouse, a floating pontoon boat at North Cove called “Mermaid.” In 1999, the club organized a series of International Races on the Sandbaggers, Bull & Bear.
In 2001, the club was substantially impacted by the tragic events of 9/11. During this time, club members rallied and subscribed to clubhouse bonds to lay the keel for our first significant clubhouse, the Honorable William Wall. The years of 2002-2003 were rebuilding in lower Manhattan and at the sailing club. In 2004, our clubhouse in the harbor opened for business.
In 2005, Commodore Michael Fortenbaugh and our Patron Dennis Conner won the management of North Cove marina which was then renamed “Dennis Conner’s North Cove.” In 2006, the club docks were replaced with wider docks which conformed to the graceful curve at North Cove. The number of club boats at North Cove was increased to 24. In 2006, the club acquired “Admiral’s Launch,” improving transportation to and from the harbor clubhouse.
For the club’s 20th anniversary in 2007, a group of visionary members got together to form a 12 Metre Syndicate and purchased “America II” as the new flagship of the club.
By 2009, club membership had grown to 800. Then the financial crisis impacted the club as well as all Lower Manhattan organizations. Membership dropped to 650. Starting in 2010, membership rebounded to 740 and in 2011, grew to 820.
2012 was the club’s Silver Jubilee season. Membership set a new record at 900 people and the club ended the season with the acquisition of “Arabella” which will serve as a new clubhouse at North Cove.