A Brief History Of The Corinthian Yacht Club

The CYC was officially organized on July 7, 1885, a little over 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was issued. The Club’s Certificate of Incorporation was filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on January 17, 1888. At the time, the Club had yachtsmen and residents, most of them summer residents, to oversee its operation. Our first Commodore was Benjamin W. Crowninshield, who was a descendant and namesake of the fifth Secretary of the Navy of the same name (1815–1818).


Our founders and members are easily recognizable Marblehead family names, and some are still present today. In addition to Commodore Crowninshield, the first Vice Commodore was Irving S. Palmer and the first Club Secretary was Everett Paine, who held the position until 1906. The Treasurer was John B. Rhodes, who remained in that role for almost 20 years, from the date of organization until 1904. While the Flag officers generally held office for two years, the Secretary and Treasurer of the Club stayed on during the early days as they saw the need for added stability.

Other recognizable names in sailing and Marblehead include Irving S. Foster, William Whitcomb, Charles Francis Adams, Nathaniel L. Stebbins, and Everett Paine, to name a few. Later, the Club included John Alden, Charles Welch, the Percival brothers—Lawrence and David, the father and son team of Herbert B. and Harold S. Wheelock, Bradley Noyes, George O’Day, and Ted Hood. In more modern times, the notables continue with Don McNamara, Norm Cressy, and Robbie Doyle.

These great names, and more, not only helped establish the Club in the early days but fostered the birth and subsequent development of many early racing classes that have dominated Boston’s North Shore since.

early small yachts

In the early years of the Club’s sailing activities, there were many fine examples of One-Designs, such as the P-Class, and later the Q-Class, the S-Class, and the R-Class series that were to follow. Many years later, the legendary Town-Class and still later the Day-Sailers, the Rhodes 19s, and the Etchells came into prominence.

For although the Club was primarily conceived as a “small-boat” club consisting of yachts under 26 feet on the waterline, it was inevitable that it soon became home to much larger designs such as sloops, ketches, yawls, schooners--and even boats powered by steam and early gasoline marine engines.


Many notables visited the Club, including President Calvin Coolidge who sailed each summer to Marblehead in the Presidential Yacht “Mayflower”, anchoring between the Club and Fort Sewall, where mooring fields now exist. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, King Gustav of Norway came to America and paid a visit to the Club where he was photographed walking along our main pier.

Since The Early Days

The Club has flourished through storms, hurricanes and many a nor’easter with the associated flooding tides and sea-surges that threatened to tear apart our beloved waterfront—and still we survive and grow.

Marblehead is known as one of the strongest centers of yachting in the world, to which CYC has made significant contributions.