The history of the Dana Point Yacht Club parallels the growth of South Orange County and the development of the Dana Point Harbor.
The yacht club was organized in July 1952 by twenty-five charter members with a common interest in boating. The goal was to provide facilities for open water boat launching within the protection of the Dana Point cove. Malcolm Pierce became the first Commodore. Membership was limited to 100 members and meetings were held in a clubhouse located on Blue Lantern Street in Dana Point.
The Club signed a 5-year lease with Orange County so members could construct a launching ramp with an electric winch to launch and retrieve their boats through the surf. Access to the cove, its small beach and great surfing area was by the steep and narrow Cove Road down the face of the cliffs. But in 1958, the County decided to develop Dana Point cove area, a new pier was planned at the site of the launch ramp. The Club agreed to terminate its lease with the County.
The first Club burgee was designed and proudly flown by members on their boats in June 1965. In 1969 Dana Point Yacht Club joined the Southern California Yachting Association and the North American Yacht Racing Union. From 1967 through 1972 was a critical period during the building of a harbor at Dana Point. The club voted to expand membership to 400 members.
In the summer of 1970, 120 youths participated in sailing instruction classes and active competition with neighboring Newport Harbor clubs. The program was open the children of both members and non-members and continues today.
On March 17, 1972, in the newly constructed harbor the club proudly opened their new clubhouse, the first building to the east of the bridge on the island, approximately 4,000 square feet. The members installed an elevator to conform to the County codes. A portion of the parking lot at the corner was set up as a dry storage yard and a hoist was installed to launch the small boats in a turning basin between A and B docks. Sabot racks were built for the Junior program. The women’s auxiliary was formed as the Buoys’ Belles. Six offshore racing marks were installed.
In 1973 the Club inaugurated a full schedule of racing activities and became a member of the Association of Orange Coast Yacht Clubs (see Race History). They had their first cruise to Emerald Cove at Corsair Yacht Club’s facility on Catalina Island. Seminars were held at the clubhouse to teach basics of boating safety, racing, cruising, fishing, and first aid at sea.