1862: One of the World’s Leading Yacht Clubs is Launched in Australia

July 8, 1862

In the Australian colony (now state) of New South Wales, a group of 19 men met in the office of merchant William Walker in Sydney to establish a club to promote local boating activities. (Along with being an avid yachtsman, Walker was the head of a prominent shipbuilding firm; in addition, he served as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council.) Originally called the Australian Yacht Club, the newly organized club was eventually renamed the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS).

Walker became the club’s first commodore, serving in that role until 1867. The first member of the British royal family to be a sponsor of RSYS was the future King Edward VII. As Queen Victoria’s eldest son and heir apparent, Edward served as prince of Wales from the time he was only a month old in 1841 to when he succeeded his mother to the throne in 1901. A letter that Walker received during the summer of 1863 from the office of Charles Cowper, colonial secretary of New South Wales, confirmed Prince Edward’s willingness to serve as the inaugural royal sponsor of RSYS.

In the time since its formative years, RSYS has become a key force in yacht racing and other major boating pursuits in that region of the world. This yacht club has been based in the Sydney suburb of Kirribilli since 1902. (The above photo of RSYS members outside the club’s main building in Kirribilli was taken in 1929.)

RSYS has belonged to the International Council of Yacht Clubs since that organization’s founding in 2005. RSYS’s other prominent engagements on the global stage have included competing a total of three times against the New York Yacht Club in the America’s Cup sailing races. Unfortunately for RSYS, none of its competing yachts — Gretel in 1962, Dame Pattie in 1967, and Gretel II in 1970 — managed to win those editions of the America’s Cup.   

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS), please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Sydney_Yacht_Squadron

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