A group of Corinthian gentlemen recognizing the need for an organization devoted primarily to one-design class racing in the Santa Barbara harbor area, gathered on October 28, 1959 and laid the foundation for what is now the Santa Barbara Sailing Club. The first proposed name was the “Small Sailboat Racing Association” but the membership officially adopted the Santa Barbara Sailing Association as its name.
Rawley F. Hayward, C. Roger Roessler, Gordon Butcher and Glen Reitz were elected as the original Board of Directors. Each board member represented a class fleet in Santa Barbara. John Yabsley was instrumental in recruiting new members. An Inaugural Regatta was held in the Fall of 1959 with a turnout of 57 boats, consisting of Mercuries, Blue Jays and Flatties (now called Geary 18’s), Lido 14’s, Sea Shells, and Sea Mews. In early 1960, the Association built its first boat storage yard on Ledbetter Beach Road, and the club boasted a roster of 97 boats.
Under the leadership of Commodore Gordon Butcher in 1961, the Association joined with other clubs in challenging the Santa Barbara Yacht Club for the Adams Trophy. Since each yacht was required to fly its club’s burgee during the race, Betty Butcher hastily designed and fabricated one. It was later adopted as the official burgee of the club. During the same year, the Top Skippers’ Race was also introduced.
Two years later, when the City of Santa Barbara began to extend Shoreline Drive, the boat yard was moved to its present location in the harbor complex. During this time, Commodore Jack Nerdrum succeeded in obtaining an Affiliate Membership in the Southern California Yachting Association, thus enabling our members to race with other recognized yacht clubs.
On the 6th of May, 1965, our club was incorporated, changing the name to Santa Barbara Sailing Club. The members of the Board of Directors and signatories to the incorporation were Walter H. Hoag, Jack Nerdrum, Allan Beaufait, Carolyn Nerdrum, Wally Short, Robert Barker, Ray Ahlman, Fred Moran, Ken Kirkwood, Dudley Wahner and Hal Pettegrew. During its early years, the club had acquired the use of the Coast Guard Auxiliary Building which we refer to as “The Hut”.
The first Opening Day Breakfast and Ceremonies, instituted by Evert Prince and his wife Marylee, were held in the Hut in 1969. Ron Ousey planned and supervised the breakfast in following years. The Goleta Race and Picnic became a tradition after Ray Ahlman planned and provided for the first picnic which was held in Tucker’s Grove. The event was later moved to Goleta Beach to accommodate those who wished to sail to the picnic.
During the ensuing years, many awards and new races were added and still continue – the Sewer Outfall Trophy and the Soggy Sponge Award in 1971, the Triple Grand Slalom Regatta in 1974. In 1975, the club was advanced to associate membership in SCYA. Also, that year saw the introduction of the “Tom Jackson Memorial Trophy Series” for PHRF Boats, in memory of our Staff Commodore. The beautiful silver cup on the trophy was donated by club member Ron Ousey.
In 1980 Ed Shipe, Fleet Captain, conceived the idea for a new ocean race to Channel Islands Marina, ‘The Hard Way’ - around Santa Cruz Island. He enlisted the Anacapa Yacht Club as co-sponsor and the first annual race was scheduled for May, 1981. The race is now co-sponsored with the Pierpont Bay Yacht Club. The race includes a non-spinnaker class that sails directly to the Ventura finish line.
In 1983, John Bugay interrupted his single-handled South Pacific Cruise to return to Santa Barbara with a trophy to be awarded for a notable single-handed journey or to the winner of a single-handed race. Thus, the John Bugay Single-handed Trophy Race was created to allow sailors to compete in a Singlehanded Ocean Race.
In honor of Ray Ahlman’s years of dedicated service to the Santa Barbara Sailing Club and his unfailing devotion to the Victory Fleet, a new trophy series was organized in 1983 for Victory Fleet Sailors - The Ray Ahlman Perpetual Trophy.