Honolulu Star Bulletin 10/13/01)
By Ray Pendleton
You shouldn't be alarmed if you have recently seen smoke curling up from the middle of the Ala Wai boat harbor.
The Hawaii Yacht Club just kicked off its year-long, 100th anniversary celebration, so the smoke is likely coming from a 100-candle birthday cake in its honor.
According to the club's historians, the HYC was formally chartered on October 11, 1901 by a group of 19 yachting enthusiasts, whose numbers included such notable citizens of the day as Robert Wilcox, Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, David Kawananakoa, T.W. Hobron and John Mott Smith.
As the construction of the Ala Wai came many years later, the HYC's first clubhouse was situated on the Pearl City peninsula in Pearl Harbor. And although its location was somewhat removed from downtown Honolulu, it became a center for both social and sailing events on O`ahu.
Just five years after the club's conception, one of its more energetic members, businessman and promoter, Clarence Macfarlane, sailed to California on his 48-foot schooner La Paloma to entice yachtsmen there into a race back to Honolulu.
He managed to find two boat owners in Los Angeles harbor willing to make the crossing. One was Charles Tutt, visiting from Denver, who owned the 112-foot yawl Anemone and the other was Los Angeles oil man Harry Sinclair and his 86-foot schooner Lurline.
By June 26, 1906, all three boats had crossed the finish line, with the Lurline becoming the first winner of what is now the oldest bluewater regatta in the world, the Transpacific Yacht Race.
The HYC burgee flew from entrants in the following three Transpac races of 1908, 1910 and 1912.
But then World War I and the increased use of Pearl Harbor by the military halted Transpac and most recreational boating as well.
A diminishing membership and the lack of a proper facility took its toll on the once active HYC and it all but disappeared.
The dredging of the Ala Wai and the construction of the Kewalo Basin in the late 1920s finally gave boaters protected water for moorings and soon a Honolulu Yacht Club was created.
Eventually, this club merged with the Cruising Club of Hawaii and together they reestablished the Hawaii Yacht Club name and began to rebuild.
It was, no doubt, a delight for its members to see their HYC burgee finally flying from Richard Dole's 35-foot yawl Typee in the 1951 Transpac, a race it had helped create.
Thanks in part to Henry Kaiser's Hawaiian Village construction, the Ala Wai harbor finally took shape in the 1950s and before the end of the decade, the HYC had a long-term lease with the state for its present club site.
The succeeding decades have seen the HYC grow in membership as well as in diversification of its activities.
Cruising and competitive sailing is still a major interest for many members. Still others have helped to develop a substantial sportfishing fleet and many more just enjoy the social ambiance of the club.
Whatever their boating interests, congratulations are in order for the members of the HYC for their first hundred years and best wishes for their second.
HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News