Full Joint Membership
Only £150

Full Joint Membership (per annum)

Full Single Membership
Only £100

Full Single Membership (per annum)

Life Membership
Only £1,000

Life Membership (one off payment)

Overseas Joint Membership
Only £85

Overseas Joint Membership (per annum)

Overseas Membership
Only £65

Overseas Membership (per annum) - £65

Privileged Undefaced Blue
Only £100

Privileged Undefaced Blue Ensign Permit

We have two Honorary members, Mr James T Liston, resident in La Porte, Texas, U.S.A. James. James was granted honorary membership in recognition of the extensive and valuable research work he voluntarily undertook and continues to undertake, on behalf of the Club.

Mr Richard Christian who provides valuable work on our Club Website.

A Club Burgee, which must also be worn if the member’s yacht is wearing the Undefaced Blue Ensign, and is available from the Secretary. Blue Ensigns, Club Ties, Car Badges are also available from the Secretary. Many more items will follow on our Online Shop which is currently under development.


Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt

1887 – 1915

Hero of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. A member of the famous Cornelius Vanderbilt family, he inherited the bulk of the family fortune when his eldest brother William Henry died in 1892 and his other brother Cornelius III who angered his father, was disinherited. He held positions on several railroad companies including the New York Central, Michigan Central, and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie railroads, but his first love was horses. In May of 1915 he set sale from his native New York City for London to conduct a meeting of the International Horse Breeder’s Association and to assist the war effort by volunteering as a driver for the Red Cross. On May 7th, when the Lusitania was torpedoed by an enemy submarine the wealthy sportsman and his valet Ronald Denyer assisted others by guiding children to lifeboats and distributing lifebelts to others. Although he could not swim he reportedly gave up his lifebelt to a nurse as the ship took her final plunge into the sea. In its May 11th edition the New York Times reported, “People will not talk of Mr. Vanderbilt as a millionaire sportsman… He will be remembered as the children’s hero and men and women will salute his name”. His body was lost at sea. Though Alfred Vanderbilt’s body was never recovered, a memorial tablet was installed on a vault adjacent to those of his immediate family inside the Vanderbilt Mausoleum, at New Dorp, Staten Island, New York.

HRH The Prince of Wales

1894 – 1972

The “Britannia Trophy” was presented to SMYC in 1931 by HRH David, the Prince of Wales, subsequently Edward VIII. Originally the Trophy was for 4hp motor boat races on the Thames but fell out of use at the commencement of World War II. The Trophy was next presented in 1987 for an offshore power boat race from Tower Bridge to Brighton with an overnight stop at Ramsgate (Royal Temple Yacht Club – awarded a Warrant for the Undefaced Blue in 1898).

Charles Cheers Wakefield, 1st Viscount Wakefield, GCVO, CBE

12 December 1859 – 15 January 1941

was an English businessman who founded the Castrol lubricants company, was Lord Mayor of London and was a significant philanthropist.
Lord Wakefield of Hythe served Sussex Motor Yacht Club in many ways for a very long time. He donated The Warwick Vase,‘The International Championship of London, Challenge Trophy’ to the Club in 1931.

Lord Wakefield had many other interests as well as motor yachting involving internal combustion engines including aviation and motorsport.
Early life
Wakefield was born in Cheshire, the son of John Wakefield, and his wife Margaret, née Cheers, and was educated at the Liverpool Institute.
Business career
Wakefield patented the Wakefield lubricator for steam engines in the 1890s. In 1899 he founded the Wakefield Oil Company but subsequently changed its name to Castrol. The name Castrol was chosen because of the castor oil that was added to the company’s lubricating oils. This title has since become a household name in the United Kingdom. The Castrol brand lubricants produced by Wakefield’s company were used in the engines of motor cars, aeroplanes, and motorcycles.

A Castrol endorsement contract and the generous patronage of Wakefield provided the funds for Jean Batten to purchase the Percival Gull Six G-ADPR monoplane in which she set two world records for solo flight.

Wakefield was an Alderman, a member of the Court of Common Council, Sheriff (1907), and for 1915–1916 Lord Mayor. He received a Knighthood for services to the City of London. He was involved with a huge number of City institutions and charities and was a co-founder of the Wakefield Trust, along with his friend the Rev’d “Tubby” Clayton, better known as the founder of the Toc H charity. He was raised to the peerage as Baron Wakefield, of Hythe in the County of Kent, in 1930, and in 1934 he was further honoured when he was made Viscount Wakefield, of Hythe in the County of Kent.

Additional notes
It is often erroneously reported that Wakefield was commonly known by the nickname, or colloquial name, of “Cheers”. Although he did prefer this name, it was, in fact, a given (baptismal) name, his middle name, having been the maiden name of his mother. Wakefield and his wife had a daughter Freda Wakefield. Freda accompanied her parents on many of their public engagements including Wakefield’s business trip to America as part of the Sulgrave Institution. Wakefield left Freda and her four children a living each for their futures.

Richard Wright

1943 – 2008

Richard ‘Rick’ Wright was a founder member and the keyboard player of the rock group ‘Pink Floyd’. He owned the yacht ‘Evrika’ which he kept in Antigua and he was an overseas member of SMYC from 2002 until his untimely death in September 2008.

Sir Harry Preston

February 19th 1860 – August 13th 1936

An Edwardian Gentleman and Hotelier of Brighton

Sir Harry Preston was the owner of Brighton’s premier Hotel, The Royal Albion during the 20’s and 30’s. He had many interests in motorsport including being the founder of a “Motor Race Week” on Brighton’s Madiera Drive. Encouraging the Council to lay the first tarmacadam surface to any road in the town.

Soon after moving to Brighton in 1901, he acquired a motor yacht, LADY ADA, and in 1906 made it available to the Mayor as a flagship when a naval flotilla visited the town. Shortly afterwards, Harry took possession of a more powerful yacht, MY LADY MOLY, 60 ft. in length with a 75 h.p engine, which was  built at Shoreham. This probably inspired the creation of the Sussex Motor Yacht Club, which introduced motor yacht racing to Brighton. From a ‘Flight’ magazine report, Sir Harry was in 1913, the Vice Commodore of SMYC. He was spectacularly successful and in 1913 he bought the nearby Royal Albion Hotel which had been closed since 1900, for £13,500. During the twenties and early thirties, the Royal Albion Hotel became the town’s leading hotel where authors, actors, film stars, sportsmen and even the Prince of Wales were entertained by Preston who had a wonderful feel for publicity. Like many Edwardian gentlemen, he was a sportsman in the widest sense, embracing yachting (‘My Lady Ada’ was the first motor yacht on the Brighton stretch of coast), motor racing and flying, as well as his first love, boxing (in his younger days he fought at bantamweight).

Sir Harry is Buried in Cuckfield churchyard near to his country home. There were over 400 floral tributes to Sir Harry at his funeral.

The Duke of Westminster

1879 – 1953

The 2nd Duke of Westminster was the first Commodore of the Club and he raced his motor yacht ‘Wolseley-Siddeley’ in the 1908 London Olympics, it is believed under the SMYC burgee. The Duke of Westminster was an early President of the Club when he established a motor power boat record of 37.9 knots per hour.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin KBE

April 16th 1889 – December 25th 1977

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin KBE (April 16th 1889 – December 25th 1977) was a British Comedic actor, who was amongst the brightest stars of the early 20th century’s silent-movie era.

We believe he was also a keen member of The Sussex Motor Yacht Club. Unfortunately, we do not have any documentary evidence for this. If anyone does, we would be delighted to hear from you.

From a start in great poverty, Charlie Chaplin became world-famous in silent comedy films. Later, he went on to become a film director, and he co-founded the United Artists Corporation. He made hit films such as City Lights and Modern Times

The Tramp, his iconic silent-film figure was well known to all.

Charlie died on Christmas Day in 1977, at Vaud in Switzerland.

Here is a picture of someone who may well be Charlie, helping to launch a sailing dingy down the beach at Brighton. We think this was the 1929 SMYC Regatta. Note, he is wearing a waistcoat and tie, incongruous now, but not unusual in the 1920’s.