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The Founding of Stockton Sailing Club

On July 13-14, Stockton Sailing Club will host their Founding Fathers Regatta. When we were at the club earlier this month for the Delta Ditch Run, we saw the poster for the event. It got us wondering about the history of the club.

regatta poster
SSC’s Founding Fathers Regatta poster.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

It turns out that the story is remarkably similar to that of the founding of Sausalito Yacht Club, 90-odd miles to the west. Staff commodore Budge Humphreys told us that, back in 1933, sixteen 16-year-old boys founded the club as the Ionic Sailing Club. The teenage founders included three sets of brothers: the Stephens brothers, the Colberg brothers, and Fred and Jim Van Dyke. Colberg Marine built ships and barges and had Navy contracts. Jim Van Dyke took Bird Boats out of San Francisco YC and restored them. The young Stephens brothers built their own Snipes. (Two generations of Stephens brothers ran the eponymous boatbuilding business that turned out everything from classic motor yachts, to sailing yachts, to wooden minesweepers for WWII.)

Founders in front of SSC
The founders in front of the SSC clubhouse on the San Joaquin River in 1992. In case the titles are hard to read, the people in the photo are, left to right, back row: Corbin Shepherd, Jack Colberg, John McGowen, Richard Stephens, Wilton Colberg, Bill Lester. Middle row: Art Bray (holding the plaque), Nel Stephens, Carol Sandman, Jim Van Dyke. Kneeling: Bill Barnett, John Immel, Bob Winter.
© 2019 Hank Colberg

The boys would go to San Francisco Bay to sail and be asked, “Where the hell is Ionic?” Hence the name change to Stockton Sailing Club.

SSC from the water
SSC from the San Joaquin River at the finish of the Delta Ditch Run.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

See and the Memories of Stockton Facebook page at


  1. Dick Loomis 3 years ago

    Stephens Bros also built 8 El Toros to start the first Junior Program in 1958. I had one, Theo’s kids (Kathy, Theo Jr aka Sped, and Jimmy), and Dick’s 2 daughters. My mom got one and I can’t remember who had the last one.

    • TinkerBell 3 years ago

      You should come out, I’ll get you on a boat.

  2. Bas Vossen 2 years ago

    It would be nice if Stockton had a boat building industry again. These days a lot of people enjoy motoring in the Delta, but there are also plenty of sailing options. There is a growing market for blue water catamarans.

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