As early as the 1870s local residents enjoyed viewing regattas put on by the Grand Haven and Spring Lake Rowing Associations. The shores of Spring Lake were lined with spectators watching the four classes of entries compete: Double Sculls, Six Oared Shells, Barges, and Junior Single Shells. Among the entrants from time to time were the Chicago Scullers, the Chicago Athletic Club, the Grand River Boat Club of Lansing, the Detroit Boat Club, the Excelsior Boat Club of Detroit, the Farragut Boat Club of Chicago, the Pilot Rowing Club of Grand Haven, and the Spring Lake Boat Club. The only local winner in these regattas was H. W. in the Pater shell Millie.
Pearson, competing for the first time, won the Junior Single Sculls. These activities set the stage for the Spring Lake Yacht Club. Formed in 1897 with William Savidge as the first Commodore and George P. Savidge as Secretary and Treasurer, the Club had 47 boats registered the first year. The two Savidge brothers owned a 55 foot schooner, the Sallie, built by William Barrett, which was the Yacht Club’s first flagship.
Other charter members included William H. Loutit, Nathaniel Robbins, Chauncey M. Blakeslee, William Barrett, Len R. Patterson, James P. Armstead, George Wyman, James Campbell, and Lloyd Buckley. Barber School, which had been moved from the southwest corner of Park and Mason Streets in Spring Lake to the Savidge property, was used as the first club house. In 1914 motorboats were accepted as a legitimate part of the Club’s activities.