The Bay Head Yacht Club was established on September 8, 1888 “to promote yachting and rowing and to foster athletic sports upon the water”. Bay Head was then emerging as a popular seaside resort that attracted prominent families from Philadelphia and New York. The first clubhouse was built in 1889 on pilings at the head of Barnegat Bay. The modest building was surrounded by marshes and reached from land by boardwalks. In 1893 the clubhouse was moved 100 yards east to its present location and in 1928 the current clubhouse was built to accommodate a growing membership.
BHYC members were active participants in early sneakbox and catboat racing on the shallow waters of Barnegat Bay. In 1914 the Club was a founding member of the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association. Bay Head Commodore John V.A. Cattus was elected the BBYRA’s first commodore. That summer O.G. Dale of BHYC won the first BBYRA championship in his 20’ Sneakbox “Arran”. Since then BHYC sailors have won 175 championships in classes ranging from E Scows to Barnegat Bay’s splendid wooden A Cats.
Bay Head has had many prominent sailors in its history including Slade Dale, winner of the Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal for 1929 for a cruise to Cuba and back in “Postscript”, a 23’ cutter designed by Dale himself. Also Sam Merrick, champion E Scow sailor, who managed the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team to its best showing ever: an unprecedented three gold and two silver medals in 1984. Sam was honored later that year with US Sailing’s most prestigious award, The Nathanael Herreshoff Trophy.
BHYC’s campus is a “key site” in Bay Head’s historic district. It includes two buildings separately listed on the National Register as “contributing structures” within the historic district: our clubhouse and the boat shed, formerly known as Dale’s Yacht Basin, on Lake Avenue.