First formed by a dozen well-connected enthusiasts in the summer of 1878 to promote both their passion for yachting and the social graces surrounding it, the original headquarters of the Solent Yacht Club was in the George Hotel, Yarmouth. There rooms were leased for £45 a year and extra was paid for the privilege of raising their Club's flagstaff! Original joining fees and annual membership were both set at one guinea (£1.05) and within two years the SYC had over 50 members and was hosting its own summer regatta as the long-term centre piece of its sporting and social diary.
|Charlie Attrill as the RSYC boatman with a young John Caulcutt.|
Early members included the Marquis of Londonderry (the first Commodore), Prince Henry of Battenburg (husband to Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, Beatrice, who became a regular visitor to the club) and Hallam Tennyson (Lord Alfred’s son) but the key contribution came from Sir Charles Seely of Brook (Commodore for 12 years) who bought the current site besides Yarmouth Pier and provided the purpose-built Clubhouse (in return for annual rent) which opened in 1898 for the Club’s 20th anniversary. Such connections may have expedited the granting of the right to the Blue Ensign for SYC members in 1902, but the steady development of the racing programme also helped, with its inclusion of events for Solent Seabirds, cruiser handicap yachts and notably, in 1913, the new Yarmouth One Design.
By the start of the 1st World War in 1914 membership stood at 130 members including four women, but with the Solent a key area of naval activity during the war, the sailing, if not the social activity, ceased until 1919. After this the SYC again steadily developed in size, scope and standing throughout the 1920s and 1930s including the members’ acquisition of the clubhouse freehold.
|Ellen MacArthur, a Life Honorary Member, sailing with Joe Lester and Dick Knight.|
Again in the 2nd World War, with the Isle of Wight and the Solent the centre of much military activity, the Solent Yacht Club had to abandon all sailing. If at first it proved to be a popular social centre in dark days for members and local off-duty officers, that ended when the ARP requisitioned the club for the rest of the war. With peace came the immediate revival of full club life and two memorable events: first, the amalgamation with the local West Wight Sailing Club in 1946, and then the granting of the ‘Royal’ prefix by George VI in 1947 to become the Royal Solent Yacht Club. The very next year the club created its X One-Design Division.
|A photograph in the new bar 1966.|
During the 1950s, 60s and early 70s the RSYC went from strength to strength. Its sailing and social agendas increased (helped by the adoption of the popular Enterprises, Dragons and Folkboats with their festival weeks), the enlargement of the Clubhouse and extension of reciprocal agreements with other clubs. With this came a doubling of the membership to over 1,000, along with the election of the first and only lady Commodore in 1974, just four years before its centenary celebrations (attended by Lord Louis Mountbatten). The story since has been more of the same, with ever-improving facilities for members and visitors matched by ever more diverse activity both ashore and afloat, as with the re-establishment of the YOD Class in 1995.
No club stands still and in 2011 a major refurbishment was undertaken and completed the following year. The Club is now in the enviable position of possessing not only the best location and views in the Western Solent, but also the finest facilities, which enable us to provide for members, visiting sailors and motor-boaters alike, in addition to hosting major events such as the Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta, which now attracts upwards of 170 entries per annum.
Now over 130 years old and with a growing membership, there is every reason for the Royal Solent to look forward with justifiable optimism and confidence to the next 130 years.
Summary of Key Dates
|1878||The Solent Yacht Club (SYC) was formed at a meeting in the George Hotel, which was to be its headquarters until 1898.|
|1880||First regatta held.|
|1894||H.R.H Prince Henry of Battenburg, son-in-law to Queen Victoria and Governor of the Isle of Wight, elected a Member.|
|1898||The SYC moved into the present Clubhouse.|
|1900||Adoption of the ‘Solent Seabird’ as the first Club one-design racing class.|
|1902||Grant of undefaced Blue Ensign by the Admiralty|
|1911||The first Yarmouth One-Design (YOD) built|
|1912||First lady elected to membership of the SYC.|
|1913||Racing programme extended to include YOD and Cruiser handicap yachts of over 20 tons.|
|1914 - 1918||Regatta and all sailing activity ceased during WW1, although 1918 social events continued.|
|1927||The ‘West Wight Sailing Club’ (WWSC) formed, with its Clubhouse at Longs Wharf, to support Scow and other classes.|
|1931||Membership reached 150 in number.|
|1938||WWSC vacated Longs Wharf. Summer use of lawn and ground-floor facilities extended to its members by the SYC.|
|1939||Sailing suspended for the duration of WW2.|
|1942 - 1944||Clubhouse requisitioned by Air Raid Precautions. The Club 1944 ceased to operate until the end of the war.|
|1946||The final General Committee meeting of the WWSC held at the Savoy Hotel in London. The SYC merged with the WWSC to form a combined Club with 341 Members, but kept the name ‘Solent Yacht Club‘.|
|1947||‘Royal’ prefix granted by H.R.H George VI, thus the SYC became the ‘Royal Solent Yacht Club’ (RSYC).|
|1948||Yarmouth Division of the ‘X One-Design’ (XOD) formed.|
|1950||Membership reached 500.|
|1962||Eric and Susan Hiscock completed their 2nd circumnavigation of the world under the Club Burgee.|
|1968||Membership reached 1000 for the first time.|
|1969||Around 130 Club members resigned in protest at expensive Clubhouse extension and consequent subscription increase. A number of them subsequently formed the Yarmouth Sailing Club (YSC).|
|1970||YOD Class disbanded and the boats sold/transferred away from Yarmouth. West Wight Scow Class relocated to the River Yar and the YSC.|
|1975||First Lady Commodore elected.|
|1978||100th Anniversary Celebrations included a visit to the Centenary Ball by the Club’s Patron, Lord Louis Mountbatten.|
|1995||YOD Class re-established at the Club.|
|2003||The Club celebrated its 125th Anniversary.|
|2011||Extensive renovations to, and extension of, the Clubhouse.|
|2012||Clubhouse temporarily relocated to the George Hotel (January 2012 - June 2012).|
|2012||Newly extended Clubhouse in full operation from mid June 2012.|