Royal new Zealand yacht squadron
AUCKLAND, New Zealand
Auckland’s hills and shores
wrap around the sparkling Waitemata Harbour, making it a natural venue for
boating of all types. The foundations of the city were laid in 1840 and the
occasion was immediately marked by a regatta on the harbour. It was an
appropriate portent of things to come as yachting and boating flourished on the
harbour and ultimately grew to enjoy an international reputation.
Eleven years later, a small group of
yachtsmen made the first attempt to establish an Auckland Yacht Club. It was
short-lived, as were several subsequent efforts at getting a club off the ground. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
traces its origin back to the 1871 incarnation of the Auckland Yacht Club, with
30 yachts and 120 members on its register. By then, the city had grown from a
scattering of tents and shacks into a much more substantial and thriving
venture, with the harbour playing a central role in its progress.
By the turn of the century, yacht racing
was a thriving sport, attracting crowds of spectators and detailed reports in
the local newspapers. Under the leadership of some of the city’s prominent
captains of industry and commerce, the AYC showed continued growth. A tremendous rivalry between the Logan
and Bailey boat-building families spurred the growth of an outstanding fleet of
racing yachts, most of which joined the AYC fleet. In 1901, the AYC changed its name to the
New Zealand Yacht Squadron. The following year the Squadron celebrated a major
milestone when it received a warrant in the name of King Edward VII elevating
its status to a Royal club. With this recognition membership numbers
almost doubled from 157 in 1901 to 300 in 1903.
During both World Wars, yacht racing was
largely suspended in Auckland. Members of the RNZYS served in all theatres of
both wars and in all the armed services. A number of members who owned launches
and were not able to serve abroad, were involved in harbour defence and patrol
To accommodate steady growth, the Royal
New Zealand Yacht Squadron moved through a succession of rented premises in the
city until in 1955 it bought a handsome two-storey brick house in Parliament
Street with sweeping views over the Waitemata Harbour. A decade later, the
RNZYS acquired its current premises at Westhaven, first as a lease and
subsequently as a purchase.
From the 1960s, the RNZYS was at the
forefront of a steady rise in international competition. In 1966, James Davern
sailed his yacht Fidelis
across the Tasman Sea and swept to line
honours victory in the grueling 630 mile Sydney-Hobart Race. Fidelis
set a new
race record and the 17-hour margin between 1st and 2nd still
stands as the longest in the race’s history. Three years later, Chris Bouzaid and a
RNZYS crew took on the elite of international yacht racing. Travelling to
Heligoland, Germany, Bouzaid and his Rainbow II
crew won the
prestigious One Ton Cup against a line-up of seasoned competitors from the USA,
Germany, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Holland and Switzerland.
On the foundations laid by these
successes, the RNZYS trophy cabinets have played host to some of the biggest
prizes in world yachting including the Half, One and Two-Ton Cups, the
Admiral’s Cup, the Kenwood Cup, the Champagne Mumm World Cup, the Whitbread
Round the World Trophy, the Louis Vuitton Trophy and the America’s Cup.
Carrying the RNZYS burgee into battle,
Team New Zealand won the America’s Cup in San Diego in 1995, then successfully
defended it on the Hauraki Gulf in 2000. After losing to Switzerland in 2003, the
RNZYS became the only yacht club in the world to challenge and win the
America’s Cup twice when Emirates Team New Zealand scored a 7-1 victory over
Oracle Team USA in Bermuda in 2017.
Now, coinciding with the Royal New
Zealand Yacht Squadron’s 150th anniversary, Emirates Team New Zealand
will mount an Auckland defence of the Cup in revolutionary unballasted foiling
monohulls in 2021.
See information on our Youth Training Program on the RZNYS website, www.rnzys.org.nz/
Updated Tuesday, November 19, 2019