Over 50 Years of Sailing on the Wannsee Lake
The roots of the American International Yacht Club Berlin (AIYCB) can be traced back to the arrival of the United States Constabulary Forces in Germany in the Fall of 1945. Sailing on the beautiful Wannsee Lake soon became a popular form of recreation for soldiers stationed in Berlin. Although exact dates are unknown, sometime in the Spring of 1946, with the acquisition of a few sailboats, the U.S. Army established a recreation facility for its soldiers on the Wannsee Lake.
The first known location of the U.S. Army recreation facility is the current home of the Potsdamer Yacht Club, located on the southern shore of the Wannsee. This facility was initially used as a recuperation center for injured American soldiers and then later used as the U.S. Army recreation center. This property was returned to Germany in 1949 when the U.S. Army established a major recreation center for the American Military Community in Berlin.
This facility was located on the eastern shore of the Wannsee at Am Sandwerder 17-19. Since its establishment, the facility has been known by several names: „Wannsee Yacht Club“, „Wannsee Harbor“, and „Wannsee Recreation Center“ as it was last officially known. Sailing, boating, swimming, and fishing were all available at this facility as well as hotel and restaurant facilities for soldiers. In the 1950s and 1960s American soldiers stationed in West Germany were often sent to the Wannsee Recreation Center for R&R, (rest and recuperation).
In the 1960s the US Army adopted a program which allowed private associations to be organized as part of its military recreation program. Thus, at some point in the 1960s, a few American Wannsee sailors founded the American Yacht Club Berlin (AYCB) as a private club under the sponsorship of the Berlin Command. AYCB soon became an integral element of the Wannsee Recreation Center assuming responsibility for Red Cross sailing instruction, organizing regattas, and promoting sportsmanship with Allied (British and French) as well as German sailing clubs.
In 1986 the Wannsee Recreation Center underwent major renovations to all of its facilities and grounds. The existing small dock was expanded to a full harbor in order to accommodate additional motor, paddle and sail boats. Additionally, the luxurious Wannsee villa was fully renovated and utilized as a transit hotel.
In 1992, as the Allied Forces were preparing to leave Berlin as a result of Germany’s reunification, a small number of AYCB sailors grasped the initiative and founded the American International Yacht Club Berlin (AIYCB) as a sports club registered under German Law. AIYCB as an officially recognized sport organization, leased the Wannsee harbor facilities and part of the grounds. AIYCB also purchased several boats and various equipment from the departing American Forces.
Currently, AIYCB has ca. 140 primary members of various nationalities, including family members, with a total of about 220 people in the club. AIYCB now shares these beautiful and historic grounds at Am Sandwerder 17-19 with the American Academy which currently utilizes the Wannsee villa; now known as the Hans Arnold Center.
Sailing at the AIYCB
Club boats occupy slips adjacent to private boats in the protected harbor, creating a colorful idyllic sailing setting. Bathed in the warm light of the evening sun, this is among the most beautiful settings on the Wannsee. As many club members do not own boats, the friendly practice of taking others on board as crew members is a frequent occurrence. During the sailing season, a large number of regattas take place and many members also sail in regattas sponsored by other clubs. Traditional and close contact is still maintained with the British and French yacht clubs.
Children and youth sailing programs are actively encouraged. The Youth Sailing Program has become a major and successful initiative of AIYCB. In addition to learning sailing skills and good sportsmanship, our youth get to enjoy the camaraderie various nationalities.
Social events such as celebrating the 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, „Nikolaus“ and Weihnachten “ contribute toward maintaining the American flair while integrating festivities of other cultures. Monthly membership meetings are held offering a veritable garden of culinary delights through our “ pot- luck “ meals. A spring and fall grounds clean-up bring all members together in a working setting which solidifies club cohesiveness. Collective projects range from the small to the large including the recent renovation of our 70 year old wooden „Schärenkreuzer“ sailboat by some 30 club members.
Children and adults alike find a friendly atmosphere at AIYCB e.V.