SMYC Membership 2017-12-23T17:04:43+00:00


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

A Club burgee, which must be flown if the member’s yacht is wearing the Undefaced Blue Ensign, is available from the Commodore. Club ties are also available from the Commodore.


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).

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt

1887 – 1915

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt was an extremely wealthy sportsman and a member of the famous Vanderbilt family of philanthropists. In 1908 he presented to SMYC the ‘Venture International Challenge Cup’ an unusually large Edwardian silver trophy. The trophy is decorated with an enamelled SMYC burgee and engraved “Sussex Motor Yacht Club, The Venture, International Challenge Cup, presented by A G Vanderbilt Esq. 1908”. He died in 1915 at just 28 years old, on the RMS Lusitania when she was torpedoed and sunk within 18 minutes off the coast of Ireland. He was valiant to the last, helping women and children into the lifeboats and even though he was a non swimmer, he and his valet handed and fitted their life-belts to a woman and her child.

Sir Harry Preston

1860 – 1936

Harry Preston of car racing fame was also a successful hotelier. In 1901 he acquired the Royal York Hotel (now Royal York Buildings) which was almost derelict. Following the hotel’s refurbishment, he wined and dined London newspaper editors to promote visitors, particularly motorists, to Brighton and to encourage them to stay at his hotel. 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).

Fred May

???? – 1951

Mr. Fred May became Vice-Commodore prior to the start of WW I and remained (through both World Wars) in this position and that of Commodore, for forty years until his death in 1951. He was recognised world-wide as one of the pioneers of power boat racing, and it was probably through his efforts that the Club remained very closely connected with this sport.

Lord Wakefield of Hythe

1859 – 1941

The Warwick Vase, ‘The International Championship of London, Challenge Trophy’ was donated to the Club in 1931 by Lord Wakefield of Hythe, the founder of the Castrol Oils corporation. Lord Wakefield had many interests involving internal combustion engines including aviation, motor sport and motor yachting.

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.

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 the British Virgin Islands and he was an overseas member of SMYC from 2002 until his untimely death in September 2008.