By the early 1930’s, the IRYC had established itself as a tough competitor in the Florida East Coast Yachting Association. Way before the first Brevard Challenge, the May Day Regatta was the big attraction for the IRYC. By 1932 competitors were coming from as far south as Miami and as far north as Jacksonville to compete with IRYC sailors. The Cocoa Tribune reported this May Day Regatta thrilled large crowds.
Social functions were the club’s other purpose during the 1930’s. Many of the area socialites found the IRYC filled the cultural vacuum Brevard offered at the time. The club’s formal dinner dances at Ireland’s Casino included orchestras and lavish floral decorations. Other times as many as 35 members would drop in for dinner at a member’s house, just to plan club activities.
During the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, power boaters played a major role in the club. The club was active with the Florida branch of the American PowerBoat Association in promoting power boat races. As many as five thousand people would line the river to see the fastest motor boats in the nation race in the annual IRYC Motor Boat Regatta. Charles F. Chapman (of “Chapman’s Piloting, Seamanship, and Small Boat Handling”) came down to the IRYC race course to time power boat world speed record attempts. Tom Chatfield transported his “Scoundrel” from Danbury Connecticut to break the world speed record (55.046 mph) for the 91 class inboard motor boats at the IRYC race course.
The IRYC suspended operations during World War II. By 1947 the club was functioning again under the leadership of Dr. G. T. von Colditz, and began looking for a new clubhouse. Around this time, well known locals, Marsha and Reese Wuesthoff became interested in sailing and competed against each other aboard sailboats named Ginn Ginn and Folly. By 1948, the club had temporary quarters at the end of the Cocoa City Dock. Annual dues were a steep $10 back then, but over $500 in prize money was awarded during one motorboat race that year.
In 1958, the club began its unsuccessful drive for a City Marina in Cocoa. While unsuccessful with city politicians, the club was very popular with local sailors. Together with the RCA Yacht Club of Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral, the IRYC sponsored five major regattas each year. The Orange Jubilee was held in early March. This was followed by its major Regatta of the year, the Indian River Nipper Regatta in mid May. The other three regattas were the Independence Day Regatta, the Labor Day Regatta, and the Mid November Regatta. During the sixties, the Melbourne Yacht Club and the Eau Gallie Yacht Club also helped sponsor the Indian River Nipper Regattas.
The club eventually was successful at building its clubhouse behind the historical Brevard Hotel. As the membership grew in size, so did the clubhouse. Eventually the clubhouse docks contained 60 plus boat slips surrounded by a breakwater. The IRYC’s Brevard Challenge became the biggest regatta in the county, hosting over 80 sailing yachts in the best of years.
Stormy times fell upon the IRYC in 1995. Twice the IRYC docks had to be rebuilt. Once after Hurricane Erin destroyed them and sunk several boats, and once after Tropical Storm Jerry wrecked them. Each time, the IRYC members rebuilt the docks within a week. “Progress” finished off what Mother Nature couldn’t. The Brevard Hotel property and grounds was sold in 1995 and the clubhouse and hotel were demolished in 1996.
In January 1997, the IRYC moved into the boathouse at the old city hall area of Rockledge. Races were started off the breakwater of the club at 1000 Rockledge drive for almost 5 years.
In 2002, the club relinquished the lease on the boathouse but continued to start the Wednesday night race series from the adjacent City of Rockledge Public Dock. For the first time in many years, the club did not run the annual Brevard Challenge as Lee Wenner Park was closed for renovations. The renovation of Lee Wenner park in Cocoa is now complete and the club has began a Sunday series run from the park. The Brevard Challenge has been scheduled to be started from the park in May of 2003.
Traditionallly, IRYC runs a Wednesday night race series in the spring, summer and fall months and a Sunday race series that runs year round. As well as are scheduled regattas throughout the year. When the Wednesday night racing is done for the year, the club meets every Wednesday night for dinner at a preselected restaurant. In 2010 the club started planning weekend camping trips. All are invited to come (members and non-members).
Join us today by filling out an IRYC Member Application!