Royal Motor Yacht Club
Poole Harbour, Dorset, United Kingdom
One of the premier yacht clubs in the world, the Royal Motor Yacht Club is a private Members’ Club with over 100 years of history and tradition. Situated within the beautiful Sandbanks Peninsula, the Club offers excellent facilities with magnificent views overlooking Poole Harbour and Brownsea Castle.
Officially founded in May 1905, The Motor Yacht Club was created by a group of enthusiastic gentlemen who were members of the new Automobile Club, later to become the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall, London. Over 80 people turned up to the first meeting of the Club.
The club soon offered the following: Use of a clubhouse on the waterside
with moorings; The use of an office in London and a
room for meetings; The right to enter races run by the
club for reduced fees; Customs facilities for the Continent; Assistance in technical matters in the
purchase or sale of boats; Assistance in planning tours; Representation on the Marine Motor
Association; A club magazine; The Automobile Club
Journal; Advice on points of law concerning
In 1910, King
George V approved the Home Secretary’s recommendation that the Prefix “Royal”
be conferred upon the club and that henceforth it would be known as the Royal
Motor Yacht Club.
The Early Days
It has not always
been reported that women have been involved in the sport of motorboating from
its earliest days.
Dorothy Levitt was
a pioneer motorist both on the road and the sea.
In 1903, in the
inaugural Harmsworth Trophy, she piloted the winning launch, much to the
surprise of other competitors.
In 1905 she drove a
De Dion-Bouton motor car single handed from London to Liverpool and back in two
days, averaging 20 miles per hour over two hundred and ten miles. She carried
out her own road-side work and repairs.
She also raced a Napier car for S F Edge. In 1909 she published a book
entitled “The woman and the car”. In it, she gave the following advice to
“carry a loaded Colt revolver in a drawer under the seat in case of trouble, I
find it very easy to handle as there is practically no recoil”.
The first Rear
Commodore, Mansfield Cumming, purchased the 1,000 ton ex. Admiralty Yacht
Enchantress in 1905.
paddles, steam engines and boilers, she was converted into a smart and large
floating club house and moored off Netley, in Southampton Water.
accommodation included 25 sleeping cabins, a smoking room, drawing room,
promenade deck, dining room and ladies drawing-room. (Ladies however, were to
leave for the shore by 10 PM each evening.)
World War II
number of members’ boats were requisitioned for war work, including Sir Tommy
Sopwith’s huge motor yacht “Philante”. Many boats from the Harbour, including
13 from the Club, were used in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. Many were
lost but there were still a handful in the 1950s in the Harbour that proudly
carried a brass plaque stating they were “Dunkirk Little Ships”.
The Royal Navy
showed interest in creating a seaplane base at the Club, but nothing was
settled for many months. In 1940 the Commodore offered the Club House as
accommodation for eight naval officers who would pay an agreed sum per week for
food and attendance. After sorting out early difficulties, the Navy took over
the Boat yard and Lord Lyle’s boat shed next door to the Club House as a sea
plane training school.
The Club was now entering the halcyon time of the 1950s when wealthy
boat owners flocked down from London and the home counties to go motor yachting
at the weekends. Large sailing yachts and motor yachts were to be seen at their
moorings lying off the Club in Brownsea Roads. By 1952 the
membership had reached over 1,000 , many of whom lived away from Sandbanks but
who wanted to keep in contact with the Harbour and Poole. Even at this time,
the Sandbanks area was known for its kind climate and water front houses and a
four bedroom house on the water could be purchased for £8,000. When George the
VI died in 1952 his place, as Admiral of the Club, was taken by HRH the Duke of
The Children’s Regatta which had been running for a number of years and
was now well established was going from strength to strength. As well as the
basic swimming and diving competitions there was also the much enjoyed outboard
race in which children as young as eight were allowed to race dinghies in the
Harbour with Seagull outboards [open topped flywheels] round a course near to
the Club, weaving in and out of the moorings off the Main Pier. [What health
and safety would think of that now would be interesting]. The Club hosted the
1957 International 5.5 metre Coppa d’Italia meeting and from that year
continued to host a series of sailing and motor boat races which took place in
Poole Bay or in South Deep
Download a full history of the club HERE.
Last Updated: Friday, October 18, 2019