The current Detroit Yacht Club traces its beginnings back to 1868. In addition there is a record of a Detroit Boat Club tracing its beginnings back to 1839, but it went out of existence in the 1990s.
Searching the word yacht in the Detroit Free Press turns up a September 22, 1868 announcement of a local regatta to be held on October 1, 1868, consisting of five yachts (The Coral, Humming Bird, Collins, Norma, and Ripple) which would race from a point off Woodward Avenue ten miles North of Grosse Point on Lake St. Clair and then back, so we will use that date. A year later the Detroit Free Press also reports in some detail on a second regatta between the Barker, Collins, The Coral, and Humming Bird, with the Humming Bird winning. In the latter article, the editor comments that it would seem like Detroit would sponsor more yacht races and aquatic contests of various locations given its location on the Detroit River.
Source : “Yacht Regatta, Detroit Free Press, September 22, 1868, p.1. via Proquest Historical Newspapers, Detroit Free Press (1858-1922).
“YACHTING: The Race Between the Collins, Barker, Humming Bird and Coral; A CLOSE AND VERY INTERESTING CONTEST; The Humming Bird the Winner, Detroit Free Press, September 29, 1869, p.1 courtesty of Proquest Historical Newspapers (1858-1922).
Detroit Yacht Club History from the Detroit Yacht Club website.
Bill Loomis, Detroit Yacht Club: Home for good times on the river since 1868, Detroit News, August 4, 2013.