A history of the Catamaran Yacht Club, Sheppey

Please note: all sailing now takes place from IOS Sailing Club, please see the IOS Sailing Community website for more. For enquiries about chalets see CYC Coastal Club Ltd., Barton’s Point, Marine Parade, Sheerness, Kent ME12 2BX.

The Catamaran Yacht Club (CYC) or ‘Cat Club’ was founded in 1960 to provide a club for the growing number of catamaran sailors who at the time felt unwelcome at most traditional sailing clubs.

The ‘newfangled’ catamarans were frequently eyed with suspicion by members of sailing clubs at the time, which were predominantly made up of dinghy sailors. A catamaran’s inherent faster speed, and the much larger amount of room required in a dinghy park didn’t help matters!

Minster on the Isle of Sheppey was chosen as the ideal base for the new Club as it offered a large expanse of some of the best and least congested waters in the South East, as well as its close proximity to London.

The Club’s burgee was a swallowtail design consisting of a blue background emblazoned with two white horses. The white horse being a well known symbol for Kent, and the two horses and swallowtails both representing the twin hulls of a catamaran.

1960: The Club was founded. The original clubhouse was ‘The Playa’ based on the Minster Leas, a well known pub. The founder members were: P. deGuingand, F. Edwards, Mrs. Edwards, W. Hawkins, C. King, Mrs. King, B. Lane, M. Lewis, P. Lewis, N. Moody, B. Moore and W. Sandell.

1961: 27 February, a limited company was formed called ‘The Catamaran Yacht Club Limited’ (now CYC Coastal Club Ltd.).

1966: The Club moved to an ex-Royal Navy gun site of over six acres at Barton’s Point. The chalets on the site were ideal for sailors to stay in at weekends and for longer week long regattas.

1967: The International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) decided Sheppey was the best place to hold week long multi-hull trials (August 5-12) to decide the International ‘A’ and ‘B’ classes of catamaran design:
Click here to read more information about these important trials 

After the Tornado was first selected as an Olympic class, CYC had the biggest fleet in the country. The designer of both the Tornado and Dart 18, Rodney March, lived on the island for several years. The popular Dart 18 catamaran was intended to be a simpler training boat for the Tornado.

1985: A new clubhouse with a large double glazed bar lounge overlooking the sea was opened.

The International Catamaran Week

From 1960 – 1991, CYC hosted ‘The International Catamaran Week‘ – a week long regatta attracting competitors from around the world to race off the waters of Sheppey.

The Catamaran Yacht Club today:

Unfortunately, in the late 1990s the Environment Agency installed large granite rocks to protect the section of beach directly in front of CYC’s clubhouse, which meant sailors could no longer come ashore at lunchtimes, leading to the club’s demise. Sadly, 2002-3 marked the final years of active sailing taking place. After pooling resources for a number of years, the last handful of sailors were encouraged to join the neighbouring Isle Of Sheppey Sailing Club, which had succeeded in re-establishing an active and regular racing programme.

Today, the CYC site still exists as a chalet site. In December 2009, the club was renamed CYC Coastal Club Ltd. (01795 663031) to reflect this.

All sailing now takes place from the neighbouring IOS Sailing Club, which remains popular with catamaran sailors. In 2010, IOS Sailing Club also took over the lease on CYC’s old boat compound opposite the shingle-bank in partnership with the Minster Windsurfing Academy.

Please see IOS Sailing Community for more.

[Author: J. Bell. Work in progress. Last updated March 2017]

Some photos courtesy of Stephen Hawkins: