Royal Cork Yacht Club
The Royal Cork Yacht Club is the world's oldest yacht club founded in 1720, although this record is contested by the Neva Yacht Club.
Formation and claim to be the world's first yacht club
The predecessor of the present day Royal Cork Yacht Club, was the Water Club of the Cork Harbour, established in 1720 by William O'Brien, 4th Earl and the 9th Baron of Inchiquin, a great-grandson to the 1st Earl of Inchiquin, who was a courtier of King Charles II.
The Royal Cork Yacht Club is widely acknowledged as the oldest yacht club in the world.
Names & Locations
On returning to England from exile, King Charles developed an interest in sailing on the Thames and subsequently his courtiers (including The Earl of Inchiquin) followed his example. Upon the Earl’s return to Cork, recreational sailing commenced. Some years later, the Earl of Inchiquin's great-grandson, 26 year old William O'Brien and five of his friends formalised their activities and in so doing established The Water Club of the Harbour of Cork in 1720. This body became inactive in 1765 and was re-established in 1802. In 1872 the Munster Model Yacht Club was founded as a Corinthian Yacht Club to provide for amateur racing rather than racing for wagers on yachts of wealthy owners with paid hands. It changed its name and dropped the word "Model" and became known as the Cork Harbour Yacht Club. Later on that decade it dropped "Harbour" and became the Cork Yacht Club and in 1831, the club received a royal charter from King William IV, and became the Royal Cork Yacht Club. In 1966 the Royal Munster Yacht Club merged with it to become as it is known today, the Royal Cork Yacht Club incorporating The Royal Munster Yacht Club
It was originally located on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour. In the early nineteenth century, it transferred to Cove, subsequently named Queenstown, now Cobh. It is currently located in Crosshaven, near Cork City.
By the mid 19th century membership was keenly sought after, due to the club's popularity, and club records show that many candidates were disappointed at not getting membership. One who was admitted was Prince Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria, later to be Emperor of Mexico. Prince Ferdinand was the founder of the Imperial Austrian Navy and a brother of Emperor Franz Joseph. The Prince of Wales who was later to become King Edward VII attended several RCYC regattas sailing his famous yacht Britannia.
In 1872 the Munster Model Yacht Club was founded and eventually received a royal charter to become the Royal Munster Yacht Club. It settled in the Clubhouse of the Cork Harbour Motor Yacht Club at Crosshaven in the 1930s. The Royal Munster merged with the Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1966.
Cork Week is hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club and is held every two years, usually in late June or early July. It is Ireland's largest and most prestigious sailing regatta.
The Royal Cork Yacht club also hosts many regional, national, and international sailing events.