Recreational sailing at Sidmouth began in the 1850s; the first Sidmouth Regatta was held in 1857. Races were held for three visiting yachts and six local fishing boats similar to the luggers which are still sailed at Beer today. With strong, on-shore winds and poor visibility, the yachts gave up and went home early; one had lost its dinghy, which one of the locals (Foam) then mistook for a mark of the course. The fishing boats were started by local antiquary Peter Orlando Hutchinson using an ornate, brass, Far Eastern cannon. The start line was a short distance from shore, near to where the present-day clubhouse stands; the course was large by modern standards, with about four miles between marks. Unfortunately, with the confusion of wind and spray, the results are not known.
In the 1920s it was still mainly the twenty or so boats of the fishing fleet which occasionally raced and these boats would have formed the nucleus of the Corinthian Sailing Club. In 1936 Sidmouth Sailing Club was formed but its development was interrupted by WWII. After the war the Club was re-started and in 1947 Fireflies and Redshanks (a Sidmouth one-design class) were adopted as club class boats. This was a turning point in the growth of sailing at Sidmouth as previously any boat launched from the beach with a sail was eligible to race.
Some of the Fireflies purchased had been sailed in the post-war Olympics and members of the Sidmouth club went to Brixham to buy the boats that were sold off after their Olympic use. (Harold and Reg Fish, Ernest and Patrick Pym, Stanley Chard and John Luxton were the first Firefly owners). The Fireflies produced Sidmouth's first Olympic sailor. Patrick Pym (1936–2019) started his sailing at Sidmouth with his father but by the 1960s he had moved to Hamble. In 1968 he was reserve in the Finns for the Mexico Olympics, but he made the1972 Olympics in Germany helming a Finn. In 1981 he helmed in the English team that won the Admiral's Cup.
The Club's premises were then in the building currently used by Sidmouth Lifeboat. The present club house with its boat park was opened in 1967 and with its extension provides excellent facilities for sailing.
In the early 1960s the 420 became popular and the Smith brothers, Fraser and Chester, were probably the club's most successful sailors: Fraser won the 420 nationals in 1970. By the mid 1970s Scorpions had become established alongside the 420s and about fifteen of each class would take part in club racing. But it was not until 1985 that the club had its first Scorpion National Champions when Jon Turner and Nick Keast won the event at Hythe. Peter Harper won the event in 1990. Both Peter Harper and Nick Keast have won the class nationals subsequently.
In the 1990s Mirrors were established as an adopted class at Sidmouth. The club's most successful Mirror helm was Chris Balding who won the 1997 World Championships in Canada sailing with Nicki Harper.
The club has hosted many open events (including the annual Sidmouth Regatta) and a number of prestigious championships since the 1980s.