A yacht club is a sports club specifically related to yachting.
Yacht clubs are mostly located by the sea, although there some that have been established at a lake or riverside locations. Yacht or sailing clubs have either a marina or a delimited section of the beach or shoreline with buoys marking the areas off-limits for swimmers as well as safe offshore anchorages. On shore they also include a perimeter reserved for the exclusive use of the members of the club as well as a clubhouse with attached bar, café or restaurant where members socialize in a pleasant and informal setting.
Although the terms Yacht Club and Sailing Club tend to be synonymous, some general differences regarding the recreational use of boats can be broadly outlined. Historically a Yacht Club tended to focus on a membership composed of yacht owners, including motorboats. This type of club often was extremely exclusive, attracting the aristocracy or the high class and leaving small boat owners out of the circle. On the other hand, a Sailing Club tended to focus on a membership composed exclusively of owners of sailboats, including smaller boats such as dinghies. These became very popular towards the end of the 19th century when small boats began to be produced on an industrial scale.
Yacht clubs are often known by their initials (e.g. New York Yacht Club abbreviated as NYYC and Kingston Yacht Club abbreviated as KYC). Many well known yacht clubs, including the Yacht Club de France, the Yacht Club Italiano and the Royal Yacht Squadron, have been established under royal patronage or have been granted the title at some point in their history.
Organized and run by the membership, Yacht Clubs became a place to promote the sport of sailboat racing and cruising, as well as provide a meeting place for the particular social community. The membership is a mixture of people with specific recreational affinities, and the members often include those who sail as crew for cruising or racing, as well as boat owners. Also it is up to the members decide on the objectives of the club to satisfy the membership and to attract other like-minded individuals. For example, some clubs include owners of powerboats, while others specifically exclude them. In order to overcome difficulties concerning the affinities of their members one particular club may have two sections, a sailing section and a powerboat section.
Members Clubs often have paid staff for catering, bar duty, boat yard duty, accounts, office etc. Control and organization of the club is done for the membership via members elected by the membership into roles such as Sailing Secretary, Commodore, Cruising Captain, Racing Captain etc. Smaller clubs typically have a condition of membership which requires active participation of the membership in activities such as maintenance of club facilities and equipment.
Unlike the classical clubs where the membership is the focus, certain 'clubs' are run on a commercial basis. They may be owned by individuals or a company to provide a service and generate a profit. Often they are associated with a particular marina or port. Objectives are usually broadly similar to members clubs, but the social side may be more dominant.
There is a long historical tradition behind yacht clubs. According to the date of establishment, the Neva Yacht Club, founded in 1718 in Russia, is the oldest yacht club.However, since this Russian Yacht Club was established by a decree of Tsar Peter the Great, it does not fully qualify as a proper club in the modern sense, understood as a voluntary association of members who organize and run the club. Therefore, the Royal Cork Yacht Club founded in Ireland in 1720 is also widely acknowledged as the oldest yacht club in the world, despite having gone through periods of dormancy and undergone name changes in its long history, much in the same manner as the Neva Yacht Club. It was only in 1846 that the first yacht club in Russia to adopt British-style Members Club regulations was established. Using this Western understanding of what a club or society is, the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, KSSS, founded 1830, becomes the oldest European yacht club outside the British Isles, and the fifth oldest in the world.
A number of the world's most renowned Yacht Clubs are located in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, and the United States. The first yacht club in North America was the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, located on the Northwest Arm in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada established in July 1837.Some yacht clubs are affiliated with an international body, the International Council of Yacht Clubs, which exists to improve the quality of the services yacht clubs provide to their members as well as to promote environmental awareness and responsibility towards the environment.
The Kieler Yacht-Club in Northern Germany organizes the yearly Kiel Week, the second-biggest sailing event in the world, that is celebrated since 1882.Kiel Week was an attempt to imitate the much older and larger Cowes Week, long-admired by Wilhelm II.
Most clubs, regardless of the size of their craft, have a well defined racing program. Clubs may host regattas ranging from informal local events to national championships. Often clubs have a regular weekday evening racing schedule or a weekend racing schedule organized by the membership. Many yacht clubs field teams to compete against other clubs in team racing. There are also some specific boat models and lengths which have their own club. These boat ownership clubs often hold single design races for their members. With the growth of sailing at secondary schools and universities many yacht clubs host Interscholastic Sailing Association or Intercollegiate Sailing Association regattas. Additionally, a number of yacht clubs enter into agreements with schools to provide dock space and practice facilities for the school teams year-round.
Clubs with active adult sailing programs most often feature junior sailing programs as well. Most often these programs enroll children from ages 8 to 16. Children most often learn to sail in the optimist (dinghy) and then progress to a larger single handed dinghy such as starling or laser dinghy or two handed such as 420 (dinghy). These junior sailing programs often also teach children rowing, kayaking, general seamanship and navigation. Children are also taught how to race competitively from an early age and most clubs host junior sailing regattas each season.
Members belonging to a yacht club or sailing organization may fly their club's unique flag (usually triangular), called a burgee , both while under way and at anchor (however, not while racing). Traditionally, the burgee was flown from the main masthead, however it may also be flown from a small pole on the bow pulpit, or on the starboard rigging beneath the lowest starboard spreader on a flag halyard. Some traditional clubs have also been granted the right to fly a special yacht ensign at the stern.
At traditional clubs the burgee and the ensign is hoisted at 08:00 each morning and lowered each evening at sunset. This ceremony is called colours. Traditionally, the first time a member of one club visits another, there is an exchange of burgees. Exchanged burgees are often displayed on the premises of clubs, such as at their clubhouse or bar.
Yacht clubs are organized like any other club or organisation with committees, chairman, directors, etc. Due to the connection with the sea and hence the navy, the various posts use naval terminology. For example, the chairman/CEO is the Commodore. Usually, under the Commodore there are also the Vice Commodore (in charge of land-based activities) and the Rear Commodore (in charge of water-based activities); for clubs in the United States they might in turn be assisted by the Port Captain and the Fleet Captain respectively. In a few clubs in the United Kingdom the Admiral, which is one rank above the Commodore, is the senior officer. Each of these ranks has specific responsibilities to ensure the smooth running of the club.
Members of yacht clubs typically gather at a clubhouse or shore station which may also have docks. The oldest yacht club in the world without a clubhouse is Sheldrake Yacht Club (Mamaroneck, New York).
The traditions and prestige normally associated with yacht clubs have to some extent been subverted or appropriated unofficially by groups and businesses calling themselves "yacht clubs". For example, the "Gowanus Yacht Club" is a beer garden restaurant in Brooklyn, NY,the Van Buren Yacht Club is a bar and hotel in Maine, the "Crystal Bay Yacht Club" is a beach resort in Ko Samui, Thailand and "The Eagle Rock Yacht Club" is a non-profit dodgeball league in Glassell Park, Los Angeles. These so-called "yacht clubs" don't necessarily involve sailing on private yachts of members as their main purpose or activity, but often outwardly maintain a nautical or water-oriented theme.
Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club was the unofficial name for the United States Seventh Fleet during the Vietnam War. In this case the term "yacht club" was appropriated with humorous intentions. The Seventh Fleet's nickname became very popular among its members at the time.
The oldest yacht clubs are:
The oldest yacht clubs are:
The Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) is a British yacht club. Its clubhouse is Cowes Castle on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. Member yachts are given the Suffix RYS to their names, and permitted to wear the White Ensign of the Royal Navy rather than the merchant Red Ensign worn by the majority of other UK registered vessels. The club's patron was Queen Elizabeth II.
Boat racing is a sport in which boats, or other types of watercraft, race on water. Boat racing powered by oars is recorded as having occurred in ancient Egypt, and it is likely that people have engaged in races involving boats and other water-borne craft for as long as such watercraft have existed.
The Royal Brighton Yacht Club is located at Brighton, Victoria, Australia at 253 Esplanade Brighton.
The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) is a private social club and yacht club based in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1844 by nine prominent sportsmen. The members have contributed to the sport of yachting and yacht design. As of 2001, the organization was reported to have about 3,000 members. Membership in the club is by invitation only. Its officers include a commodore, vice-commodore, rear-commodore, secretary and treasurer.
Lough Ree Yacht Club is a sailing club based in Ballglass, Coosan, near Athlone, Ireland. Founded in 1770, albeit under the name Athlone Yacht Club, it claims to be one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world, although another Irish yacht club, The Royal Cork Yacht Club has proven to be the world's first and oldest yacht club. In any event it is probably the oldest club based on an inland lake.
Larchmont Yacht Club is a private, members-only yacht club situated on Larchmont Harbor in the Village of Larchmont, in Westchester County, New York.
The Southern Yacht Club is located in New Orleans, Louisiana's West End neighborhood, on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Established on July 21, 1849, it is the fifth oldest yacht club in the United States and a founding member of the Gulf Yachting Association.
The Royal Cork Yacht Club is a claimant to the title of the world's oldest yacht club, founded in 1720, though this is challenged by the Neva Yacht Club in Russia. It is currently located in Crosshaven, Co. Cork, Ireland.
The National Yacht Club is a yacht club located in Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland.
The Royal Thames Yacht Club (RTYC) is the oldest continuously operating yacht club in the United Kingdom. Its headquarters are located at 60 Knightsbridge, London, England, overlooking Hyde Park. The club has a clear purpose:
Pwllheli Sailing Club is a yacht club in Pwllheli, Wales, founded in 1958. Over the years its clubhouse has moved several times, and it has also become an organiser of national and international yachting and dinghy sailing events.
The Royal St. George Yacht Club is a yacht club housed in a Victorian style clubhouse, located in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland. Each season the Club hosts a number of National and International Sailing events.
The Twelve Foot Dinghy was designed by George Cockshott, an amateur boat designer from Southport, England in response to a 1912 design contest. It became the first one-design racing dinghy to achieve international recognition. The class was granted the 'International' status by the IYRU in 1919 and remained this status until 1964 when it was revoked by the same authority. The class was selected as the dinghy class for the Olympics in 1920 & 1928. In 1924 the French wanted to use an alternate French design.
The Royal Findhorn Yacht Club is located in a waterfront setting at Findhorn, on the coast of Moray in Scotland, on a site overlooking the sheltered inshore waters of Findhorn Bay.
The Britannia Yacht Club (BYC) is a private social club, yacht club and tennis club based in Britannia, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was founded in 1887 by a group of cottagers.
Lough Derg Yacht Club is a boat club based in the lakeside village of Dromineer in County Tipperary, Ireland. Founded in 1835, it is one of the world's oldest yacht clubs. The club is based in a modern clubhouse on the east shore of Lough Derg.
The Santa Cruz Yacht Club (SCYC) is a yacht club founded in 1928 and is the oldest, and currently the only, yacht club in Santa Cruz, California.
Bosham Sailing Club is the oldest sailing club in Chichester Harbour and was founded in 1907 It is located in the historic village of Bosham in West Sussex. Its clubhouse is the Old Mill on Bosham Quay.
Greenwich Yacht Club is a sailing club based in Greenwich, London. It was founded in 1908, and caters for cruiser sailors, dinghy sailors, motor-boaters and rowers. Its officers include a commodore, vice-commodore, rear-commodore, secretary and treasurer. The club is affiliated to the Royal Yachting Association.
Chester Yacht Club (CYC) is a private yacht club located in Chester, Nova Scotia, Canada, established in 1902. The Chester Yacht Club is home to Canada's largest keelboat regatta, Chester Race Week, which occurs every August. Notable members of the Chester Yacht Club include Olympians Jacob Saunders and Graeme Saunders, who started sailing with the club's junior sailing school in 2002, and philanthropist Sir Christopher Ondaatje, who owns a nearby island. The club also has an all-wood International One Design (IOD) fleet, which competes in the IOD World Championships.