The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is New Zealand’s
leading yacht club.
leading yacht club.
Auckland’s hills and shores wrap around the sparkling Waitemata Harbour, making it a natural venue for boating of all types. The foundations of the city were laid in 1840 and the occasion was immediately marked by a regatta on the harbour. It was an appropriate portent of things to come as yachting and boating flourished on the harbour and ultimately grew to enjoy an international reputation.
Eleven years later, a small group of yachtsmen made the first attempt to establish an Auckland Yacht Club. It was shortlived, as were several subsequent efforts at getting a club off the ground.
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron traces its origin back to the 1871 incarnation of the Auckland Yacht Club, with 30 yachts and 120 members on its register.
By then, the city had grown from a scattering of tents and shacks into a much more substantial and thriving venture, with the harbour playing a central role in its progress.
By the turn of the century, yacht racing was a thriving sport, attracting crowds of spectators and detailed reports in the local newspapers. Under the leadership of some of the city’s prominent captains of industry and commerce, the AYC showed continued growth.
A tremendous rivalry between the Logan and Bailey boatbuilding families spurred the growth of an outstanding fleet of racing yachts, most of which joined the AYC fleet.
In 1901, the AYC changed its name to the New Zealand Yacht Squadron. The following year the Squadron celebrated a major milestone when it received a warrant in the name of King Edward VII elevating its status to a Royal club.
With this recognition membership numbers almost doubled from 157 in 1901 to 300 in 1903.
During both world wars, yacht racing was largely suspended in Auckland. Members of the RNZYS served in all theatres of both wars and in all the armed services. A number of members who owned launches and were not able to serve abroad, were involved in harbour defence and patrol duties.
To accommodate steady growth, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron moved through a succession of rented premises in the city until in 1955 it bought a handsome two-storey brick house in Parliament Street with sweeping views over the Waitemata Harbour. A decade later, the RNZYS acquired its current premises at Westhaven, first as a lease and subsequently as a purhase.
From the 1960s, the RNZYS was at the forefront of a steady rise in international competition. In 1966, James Davern sailed his yacht Fidelisacross the Tasman Sea and swept to line honours victory in the grueling 630 mile Sydney-Hobart Race. Fidelis set a new race record and the 17-hour margin between 1stand 2ndstill stands as the longest in the race’s history.
Three years later, Chris Bouzaid and a RNZYS crew took on the elite of international yacht racing. Travelling to Heligoland, Germany, Bouzaid and his Rainbow IIcrew won the prestigious One Ton Cup against a line up of seasoned competitors from the USA, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Holland and Switzerland.
On the foundations laid by these successes, the RNZYS trophy cabinets have played host to some of the biggest prizes in world yachting including the Half, One and Two-Ton Cups, the Admiral’s Cup, the Kenwood Cup, the Champagne Mumm World Cup, the Whitbread Round the World Trophy, the Louis Vuitton Trophy and the America’s Cup.
Carrying the RNZYS burgee into battle, Team New Zealand won the America’s Cup in San Diego in 1995, then successfully defended it on the Hauraki Gulf in 2000.
After losing to Switzerland in 2003, the RNZYS became the only yacht club in the world to challenge and win the America’s Cup twice when Emirates Team New Zealand scored a 7-1 victory over Oracle Team USA in Bermuda in 2017.
Now, coinciding with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s 150thanniversary, Emirates Team New Zealand will mount an Auckland defence of the Cup in revolutionary unballasted foiling monohulls in 2021.