Republic of Singapore Yacht Club
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE YACHT CLUB
The Singapore Yacht Club (SYC) – forerunner of today’s Republic of Singapore Yacht Club (RSYC) – was established in February 1826, exactly seven years after Raffles’ founding of Singapore. The first president of SYC was a young Scotsman – Dr William Montgomerie – who arrived four months after Raffles, to take up an appointment as Assistant Surgeon in the settlement.
Among its earliest activities in 1826-27, were the testing of the water depths near the mouth of the Singapore River to ensure safe navigation, and the organizing of a boat design and building competition open to all residents by offering a monetary prize. The first reported regatta in Singapore was on New Year’s Day 1834, that later became a tradition in the Singapore social and sporting calendar.
Like all clubs, SYC had its ups and downs, and eventually became inactive towards the 1890s. Its members were absorbed as honorary members of the young and vibrant Singapore Rowing Club in 1897.
However, in the new century, when Singapore celebrated its centenary in 1919, a group of sailing enthusiasts gathered and revived the SYC. On 1 July 1919, Walter Nutt, Maxwell Blake and 30 others met at the pavilion of the Singapore Cricket Club to vote unanimously to revive the SYC; and the yacht club was re-born. Nutt and Blake served as commodores in the first three years.
Its first clubhouse was built with sea frontage at Trafalgar Street (now part of PSA’s sprawling container complex) and completed in December 1920. In 1922, the then-governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Laurence Guillemard, was elected commodore and served six years. During his early stewardship, the SYC was granted the coveted royal charter by King George V and its name was changed to Royal Singapore Yacht Club.
Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, became the first British royal patron in 1922. With King Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936, the tradition of British royals continued when his younger brother, King George VI, became patron the following year, followed by Queen Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1967.
With Singapore’s independence in 1965, the political winds of change swept through the young nation. In early 1967, President Yusof bin Ishak became patron later that year and the RSYC changed its name to the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club. In 1966 the Club had to vacate its home at Trafalgar Street with great regret and moved to less ideal premises at Sungai Pandan / Jalan Buroh, where it stayed from 1966 to 1999.
In the first one and a half centuries of its existence, the RSYC (and its predecessor SYC) was essentially a colonial institution with mostly British members, and had a series of enthusiastic expatriates as commodores. It included three British governors – Sir Hugh Clifford, Sir William Goode and Sir Laurence Guillemard – along with a long list of distinguished civil servants, businessmen and professionals among its leaders.
The first elected Asian commodore was a Malaysian accountant and keen sailor – Teo Eng Tat – who served three terms from 1979 to 1981. The first Singaporean to be elected commodore from 1985 to 1987 was lawyer Francis Lee, another sailing enthusiast, who is still active in local sailing circles. Following Francis Lee, the RSYC has had a continuous string of Asian commodores, with a number of other nationals serving as flag officers in the RSYC Committee every year.
THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE YACHT CLUB OF TODAY
With over 1,800 members (as of January 2015), the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club today is the oldest yacht club in Asia and the only members-owned yacht club in Singapore. The move to its present home at West Coast in August 1999 opened a new chapter in its history and a range of facilities for its members. Its rich heritage continues at the West Coast Clubhouse and Marina; where it will be celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2015.
Conveniently situated near the city at West Coast Park, near the junction of West Coast Highway and Clementi Road, it also offers easy access to our Southern Islands and Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, both favourite boating destinations.
RSYC’s marina offers modern berthing and marine support facilities both to members and visiting international yachts; while continuing its dedication to sea sports and providing social and recreational activities throughout the year to meet the needs of all members.
For more information on RSYC, the Committee or Management, please visit our website www.rsyc.org.sg .
Last updated Monday, March 23, 2015