Royal Southern Yacht Club
Hamble, Hampshire, United Kingdom
Founded in 1837, with a membership of 80, succeeding years have seen the fortunes of the Royal Southern Yacht Club mirror the wider vagaries of commercial, political and social evolution. Times have not always been easy, but for any private members club to have survived in unbroken line for close to 180 years is testament to the tenacity and resilience of its members and their love of sociability, sailing and the sea.
The Royal Southern was originally based in Southampton where it commissioned and subsequently occupied a handsome clubhouse facing the Royal Pier and its Members’ list showed 50 yachts totaling close to 1,800 tons, many of which carried armament. Happy days indeed! Already honoured by royal patronage, which continues to this day, in 1847 it elected the Earl of Cardigan as its third Commodore and it was his influence that brought the Club its Royal Warrant and rights of privilege to fly the un-defaced Blue Ensign. Already commanding a cavalry regiment when appointed, he is more widely remembered for the notorious charge of his Light Brigade at Balaclava, in the face of Russian artillery. Less well reported is that he conducted his Crimean campaign from the comfort of his steam yacht in Balaclava harbour, allegedly flying the Royal Southern Yacht Club colours throughout the hostilities.
By the 1920s, development of the Southampton waterfront was threatening Club activities and its Flag Officers first considered an annexe on the nearby River Hamble, but it took more than two decades for this ambition to be fully realised. Initially renting cottages beside a boat yard, the Club successively bought, extended and refurbished the site, before acquiring the surrounding land and in 1998, commissioning the spectacular clubhouse which it occupies today.
Activities on the water have always been broadly based. In 1905 the Club ran its first powerboat race, in 1909 its first Metre boat regatta, in 1924 its first ‘X’
One Design racing, in 1962 inaugurated the Cowes-Deauville Race, was a founding member of the Solent Points Championship and the modern Cowes Week and was Challenger of Record for the 1980 America’s Cup. Based upon this heritage, today’s Royal Southern is a vibrant mixture of every aspect of boating, from ocean to dinghy racing, cruisers to keelboats and RIBs to motor cruisers. Membership is rising and today, numbers more than 1500 adult and 200 youth members.
Recognising the need to encourage sailing amongst the young, the Splash Club has been getting children between the ages of 4-18 on the water for almost 25 years and five years ago, established its Academy for 18-26 year olds, a remarkably successful development programme of coaching and competition. These initiatives have been recognised nationally by the RYA and internationally by ISAF, latterly with a Grade 2 Match Cup. An invitee to the New York Yacht Club Rolex Invitational Cup in 2013 and 2015, the Club’s crew includes Academy members. On the bigger international stage, the Club has long-standing reciprocal links with other senior yacht clubs in the UK and around the world and is proud to be a member of the International Council Of Yacht Clubs, having hosting the 2012 ICOYC Commodores Forum.
In October 2014, the Club embarked upon a massive re-development of its waterfront with the construction of the Prince Philip Yacht Haven, to offer Members and visitors modern walk-ashore berthing facilities and enhance flood defences. The facility is scheduled to be commissioned in early 2015 and has full-tide launching and recovery and disabled access facilities, just the latest example of the Royal Southern Yacht Club serving its member interests and local community.
Updated Tuesday, December 30, 2014