The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda was founded on 12th May 1967 by H.H. the Aga Khan, Andrè Ardoin, Giuseppe Kerry Mentasti and Luigi Vietti as a non-profit making sporting association for fellow sailing enthusiasts and with a view to promoting related activities. The sporting events organized by the Club and the victories won by Members flying the Club's burgee have helped to establish the YCCS' position at the forefront of international yachting. Today the YCCS enjoys reciprocal  agreements with the Yacht Club di Monaco, the New York Yacht Club, Royal Yacht Squadron and Norddeutscher Regatta Verein. The YCCS is represented by the Board of Directors headed by its President, Princess Zahra Aga Khan. The Commodore, Secretary General and Sports Director also manage the Club's social and sporting activities.

The Club has been affiliated with the Italian Sailing Federation since 1968 and with the Italian Powerboat Federation since 1978. From its inception, the Club has aimed to organize international regattas and as early as 1972 the first e dition of the Settimana delle Bocche was held. In 1973 the Club organized the One Ton Cup and became recognized as the primary promoter of competitive offshore sailing in Italy and in the Mediterranean. The first Sardinia Cup, held in 1978, marked an important step for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in organizing annual and biennial world-class sailing events. The Sardinia Cup is held in alternate years to the famous Admiral's Cup race in the Solent. 1980 saw the creation of two important world championships: the Maxi Yacht World Championship and the Swan World Cup. That same year saw the first ever Costa Smeralda Offshore Grand Prix while the inaugural Veteran Boat Rally was held in 1982.

In 1981 the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda launched the first Italian challenge for the America's Cup. Just two years later the 12-Metre Azzurra came a triumphant third in the qualifying regattas for the finals in Newport. Azzurra became a symbol for Italy's potential in top-level competitive sailing and was followed closely by fans at home. Thanks to her success, the first 12 Metre Class World Championship was held in Porto Cervo in 1984. That same year, the Royal Perth Yacht Club chose the YCCS to act as Challenger of Record for the 1987 edition of the America's Cup. As such, the YCCS was responsible for coordinating preparations for the challengers for the Cup, as well as organizing the qualifying regattas held in Australia. A vessel flying YCCS colours also participated in this edition: Azzurra '87.

1 992 was also the year of a great achievement in the field of powerboat construction: Destriero crossed the Atlantic in 58 hours 54' 50", covering the 3,106 miles between the Ambrose Light off New York and the Bishop Rock lighthouse on the Scilly Isles at an average speed of 98.323 km/h. This spectacular adventure won Destriero not only the Columbus Atlantic Trophy, the prize instituted by the New York Yacht Club and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda for the fastest return Atlantic crossing, but also the Virgin Atlantic Challenge for the fastest crossing.

1981 saw the launch of the Smeralda Prima, a Two-Tonner which achieved second place in the World Championships, to the delight of Members. Ten years later, YCCS Members commissioned German Frers to create a one-design sailing boat which could take part in fleet yacht races and match races. The first examples of the Smeralda 888 were launched in 1992 and quickly proved fast, competitive and rewarding to handle even with only three crew members.