The development of small-class racing in the Solent some few years ago was responsible for the formation of several clubs devoted specially to the interests of those classes. Indeed, the multiplication of clubs in the district was little less remarkable than the wonderful development of the sport which brought them into existence. One of the earliest of these clubs was the Island Sailing Club, formed in 1889 by a few enthusiastic small-boat sailers residing in Cowes. In the first year of its existence the club did not aspire to great things, and its races were confined to matches for open boats, of which there were two classes, 15 and 18 footers. The headquarters were originally at the Gloster Hotel, which almost adjoins the Cowes house of the Royal London Yacht Club. These quarters were not, however, occupied for any great length of time.
General Baring purchased a site on the water-side, and built and equipped a house which he leased to the club at a nominal rental. These are the comfortable quarters occupied to the present day. Many of the keenest of the Solent yachtsmen were attracted to the Island Sailing Club, and ere long it became recognised as one of the most enterprising organizations in the district.
The club has come into considerable prominence in international contests. In 1901, when Mr. Lorne Currie challenged for the Seawanhaka Cup, it was through the Island Sailing Club that his challenge was forwarded and all preliminaries arranged.
The Commodoreship was held for some years by Lord Colville of Culross, a well-known yachtsman, and a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron, while the club is greatly indebted to Mr. H. Whyatt, one of the best amateur helmsmen on the Solent, who as Honorary Secretary worked energetically in the club's interests for many years.