In 1939, local sailors Togo Middows and George Griffin, were the prime movers in the formation of the Middle Harbour Cruising Yacht Association. Early that year, Togo invited a small group, including Griffin, to his home in Mosman, where the formation of a club was proposed.
The first official meeting was held in the Griffin Brothers’ Boatshed at the Spit. Mr Dick Down, a life member and past Commodore of the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, was invited to be President and Togo Middows became Secretary. George Griffin, a first-class boat builder, remained an active member of Middle Harbour until his death and was the subject of many stories regarding his legendary strength and sailing abilities. Nicknamed, “Gorilla”, Griffin built the first registered club yacht, “Flying Cloud”, which was owned by Togo Middows. Throughout the war years the club still conducted races and after the war Middle Harbour Yacht Club, as it had now become known, started to go from strength to strength.
In 1944, the club introduced Saturday racing in two divisions; A and B class yachts. The fleet was mainly small craft, and a yacht had to have a fixed keel to be eligible to race. By 1947, there were eight yachts in A Division and ten yachts in B Division. There were fifteen other yachts which did not race so the total fleet numbered 33.
On November 27, 1954 the first clubhouse was opened by the Mayor of Mosman. At the time, members had little idea that by the 1980s the club would grow larger than all the combined clubs of the time. Nor could they have foreseen the explosion in popularity that their beloved sport of sailing was about to experience.
The first off-shore race conducted by MHYC was a modest affair. On August 21, 1954 ten yachts crossed the starting line for a race to Newport on Pittwater. Despite light winds, forcing some of the fleet to motor to Pittwater, the race was won by “Pinta” who threw up a spinnaker after rounding Barrenjoey Headland and crossed the finish line at 0335 hours on August 22.
“Pinta” had started a new era for MHYC and it was not long before club yachts were making headlines. In 1956, “Siandra” became the first MHYC yacht to enter the Sydney-Hobart Race. It was to become one of the most famous yachts of the 50s. In 1958, “Siandra” with Graham Newland as skipper and Ron Swanson, Frank Likely, Pod O’Donnell and Peter Mounsey as crew won this blue-ribbon ocean event. A winning tradition had begun and the 1959 Sydney-Hobart Race saw seven MHYC yachts take part with four finishing in the top ten places.