By Bobby Allen - email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Yacht Club is celebrating its 75th birthday. The original charter was signed September 17, 1934.
"There was a group of sailors in Gulfport that owned cat boats, which was the sailboat at the time, that started getting together on Sunday afternoons and having races," GYC Historian Tommy Hewes said.
The boat racing in 1934 marked the beginning of the Gulfport Yacht Club. Back then, the club had no building, just a pier.
"Such a crowd came out to watch the sailboat races that the pier collapsed and all the people went in the water. Luckily, no one was injured."
The pier was rebuilt and racing continued from that spot until 1937 when the yacht harbor was built. There were many changes over the years, different buildings, different locations and different storms.
The hurricane of 1947 wiped out the first yacht club pavilion. The club built on the west side in 1958 was lost to Hurricane Camille. And despite building bigger and stronger after Camille, Katrina washed away the Gulfport Yacht Club once again in 2005.
"Every time there has been a disaster, the first thing to come back has been the yacht club. And I think it has had a tremendous effect on the moral of the city."
The new clubhouse opened just last year is the grandest yet, built 28 feet above sea level for added safety and with breathtaking views of the Mississippi Sound and Gulfport's east beach.
"We are trying to return to tradition," GYC Commodore Chris Crighton said. "We lost a lot of sailboats during the storm, so we are trying to promote sailing and racing back on the coast, which has been absent since the storm."