A Look at the World’s Oldest Yachting Clubs

As a premier yacht club in Lighthouse Point Florida, LHYPC is fascinated by the rich history of yacht clubs around the world. Some of the oldest yacht clubs out there include the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland, and the Neva Yacht Club in Russia.

The History of the Two Oldest Yachting Clubs in the World

The Royal Cork Yacht Club

Founded in 1720, the Royal Cork holds the title of the oldest yacht club in the world. Although, some people argue the Neva Yacht Club is older by two years – but we’ll get to that later.

Before it was known as the Royal Cork, it was called the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork. William O’Brien established the yacht club in 1720, he was the great-grandson of the 1st Earl of Inchiquin, the courtier of King Charles II.

After returning from exile in England, King Charles formed a passion for sailing along the Thames. His interest in sailing quickly spread to his family and friends. Therefore, it was only natural that his great-grandson alongside five of his friends decided to create the first ever yacht club.

The club became inactive between 1765 and 1802. When it reopened, it continued to change names over the years. In 1872 it was known as the Munster Model Yacht Club and served as a homesite for amateur racing. Later, it become the Cork Harbour Yacht Club, and then just the Cork Yacht Club.

In 1831, it adopted the “Royal” title after receiving the privilege from King William IV.

Originally located on Haulbowline Island in Cork Barbour, it was transferred to Cove, now known as Cobh, in the early part of the nineteenth century. Today, it is located in Crosshaven, which is close to Cork City.

By the mid-nineteen-hundreds it was rather difficult to gain membership to the club – with many prosperous figures striving to become members. Members included famous historical figures like Prince Ferdinand Maximillian of Austria and the Prince of Wales.

The Neva Yacht Club

Some believe the Neva Yacht Club to be older by a couple of years; it too was developed long ago in history. This sailing club is located in Saint Petersburg, Russia, near the Neva River. Founded in 1718 and re-established as a club in 1958, it is certainly the oldest yacht club in Russia, and perhaps the entire world. The reason for the dispute is that it was established as a decree of the emperor, which means it does not qualify as a club – which is defined as a ‘voluntary association of members.’ So, even though it was established two years prior to the Royal Cork Yacht Club, it is technically discounted as the first yacht club in the world.

The prestigious yacht club was founded by Tsar Peter the Great who was a naval enthusiast. He purchased 141 small ships for the members of his aristocracy. The tsar himself designed the club’s flag, which resembles the Russian Navy Ensign. After the tsar’s death, club activities ceased because it no longer had his funding to back it.

Just like the Royal Yacht Club, the Neva Yacht Club underwent many name changes, as well as periods of dormancy. In 1892, the yacht club re-opened in memory of Peter the Great’s Nevsky Flot. It started off operating sailing competitions for large cruising yachts. Following the Russian Revolution, the Imperial Neva Yacht Club was dispersed.

In 1958, the modern-day Neva Yacht Club was re-opened for business. Its members must be ship owners and the club only serves members of the “Public Association of Amateurs of Aquatic Recreation.”