The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club



The History of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club


The Club was founded in 1871 with 47 Founder Members; Lord Wodehouse (the future second earl of Kimberley) was elected the first Commodore.    Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) were Patrons, as has been each subsequent Prince of Wales, currently Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall.   In June 1872, sanction was given by the Admiralty for Members of the Club to wear the Blue Ensign defaced by the Prince of Wales’s plume, and the Home Office gave permission for the word "Royal" to be incorporated in the title of the Club. 

The inaugural Meeting was held in the old Town Hall.   At first the Club was based in the Falmouth Hotel but moved to the Greenbank Hotel in 1873 and to its present premises in 1880, originally as tenants.   In 1876, the first lady was admitted to Membership but eighteen more years were to pass before the next lady was admitted, and it would not be until 1970 that ladies acquired full voting rights.   (It was by no means the last senior yacht club to allow this.)

Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887 was celebrated by a fireworks display and a gas-illuminated crown. The Prince maintained an interest in the Club and in 1894 his 221-ton cutter Britannia won the premier race.   A Special Handicap Race for yachts over 110 tons took place in 1926 which Shamrock (Sir Thomas Lipton) won from Britannia (HM King George V) by 39 seconds.   Indeed, it was not until the death of King George V in 1936 that the Big Class ceased to race off Falmouth in the Club’s Regatta. 


In 1936 the King’s Sailing Master Sir Philip Hunloke acquired the racing flag of Britannia and presented it to the Club.  The flag was recognised immediately by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh when he honoured us with his presence on the occasion of our Centenary Celebrations in 1971.

The Club bought the leasehold of its premises in 1911 for £710, with the aid of benevolent Members, and the Freehold in 1945 for £203.   The whole of the adjoining beach was purchased in the 1950s.

The hosting of regattas has always been important to the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club.   Falmouth has long been an important venue for National and International Championships, which the Club has hosted since before the Second World War.   In the International 14 Championship of 1938, the trapeze was first used off Falmouth by Peter (later Sir Peter) Scott to win the Prince of Wales's Cup.

More recent major events hosted by the Club have included the World Quarter Ton Championship and the British International 6 Metre Championship while every fourth year since 1975 it has organised a race to the Azores and back for yachts with a crew of one or two.   In 1995 and 2000 the Club hosted the Edinburgh Cup for Dragons.   In 1997 the Atlantic Challenge Cup, a Transatlantic race for very large sailing cruising yachts from New York to Falmouth, was organised by the New York Yacht Club and hosted by the Club.   In 1998 the Club was greatly involved in the visit to Falmouth by the Tall Ships race, and hosted the RYA/BT Match Racing National Finals.   In 2002 the Club was pleased to welcome back the International 14 class for The Prince of Wales Cup and the highlight of 2003 was the well-supported AZAB race. 2004 saw the return of the Dragon Fleet for the JPMorgan Fleming Dragon Gold Cup and 2005 the J80 World Championships.   Every year has brought a major event, in 2012, the Finn National and World Championships and the return of the J-Class.