The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is one of the oldest Royal Clubs in the world and holds some of the richest maritime history of the Atlantic. RBYC was established on November 1, 1844 by a party of thirty gentlemen, consisting of British Army officers and local Bermudian Sailors who realized there was a need for a club. During a picnic, under a calabash tree in Tom Moore’s Jungle (Hamilton Parish), these gentlemen discussed the mission and purpose of creating an institution dedicated to sailing – Bermuda’s way of life.
Two years later in 1846, the Royal Charter was acquired making the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club the 20th royal yacht club in the world. Lord Mark Kerr, a British Officer, was instrumental in acquiring the royal charter and subsequently, the first Commodore of RBYC.
During the 19th century, sailing in Bermuda was primarily match racing – two boats, one winner, one loser and a large wager on the table. With the creation of RBYC and a keen yachting community to support it, match racing evolved into modern-day, professional sailing. In 1906, following the introduction of fleet racing, rules and regulations the first Bermuda Race debuted. This regatta, known today as the Newport to Bermuda Race, bridged an ever-lasting maritime affiliation between the American east coast and Bermuda.
Many ideas and contributions to the world of sailing came from Bermuda and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. When one looks on a map of the Atlantic Ocean and sees that tiny dot called Bermuda, it is hard to imagine how much practical knowledge of the sea evolved from this tiny island. Bermudian sailors and RBYC Members contributed to modern hull designs including ships and dinghies.
Over the past century, Bermuda has sent over 20 sailors to the modern day Olympics, hosted hundreds of regattas including the King Edward Argo Match Racing Gold Cup and many other world and continental championships. In 2017 Bermuda will welcome the 35th America’s Cup, adding yet another chapter to Bermuda’s rich sailing history.