On Saturday, August 1st, 1896, at the suggestion of Dr. W. H Macpherson, a few gentlemen met at Cordery’s Boat Yard, Shiplake, and, as a result, a small Sailing Club was formed which was named The Henley and Shiplake Sailing Association and the first set of Rules was drafted. At the end of the year the Club numbered 22 Members, all of whom owned and sailed boats.
In 1897 the name of the Club was changed to The Henley Sailing Club, the present Club Burgee was adopted, being based on the burgee of the then defunct Erith Yacht Club, and the first Club Cup, presented by Mr. H N. Chapman, was sailed for. In 1898 the office of Captain of the Club was created, Mr H. N. Corsellis was elected to this post and the Club held its first open meeting.
The Club in those early days raced sailing punts, under the Rules of the Thames Punt Sailing Club, and a mixed class of Dinghies. The sailing punts were very fast and required skilful handling and the Club had as many as fourteen of these craft at one time. The Henley Sailing Club, if not the earliest, was one of the earliest Clubs in the country to adopt the Dinghy as a racing boat. These dinghies were handicapped on the Sailing Boat Association’s Rating formula modified by measuring length overall instead of length on water-line. This formula of the Club was later adopted by the S.B.A. when they recognised Dinghy sailing under the title of the ”Gig Class”. The Club races were held either at Shiplake, being there conducted from the Thames Conservancy Ferry opposite the present Club premises, or on a course between Henley Bridge and Temple Island.