The Club was formed in 1899 by an amalgamation of the Ulster Sailing Club with the Cultra Yacht Club, and was initially called the North of Ireland Yacht Club. It retained that title until 2 September 1902 when His Majesty King Edward VII was graciously pleased to command that the Club be henceforth known as 'The Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.'
The Club has attractive seafront premises in Cultra. The buildings have been extended and adapted over the years to provide the facilities required for all the Clubs activities. In the first half of the 20th Century the Club encouraged lawn tennis, croquet and other social activities, and even ran timed automobile trials for the more adventurous spirits. However sailing has obviously always been the main activity of the club. The good holding ground for the swinging moorings in front of the clubhouse is complimented by the clubs boatyard and slipway.
Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club and Optimist dinghies preparing to launch for an Ulster Championship race. Photo: Thomas Anderson
In 1902 several club members got together and commissioned the Fairy Class racing dayboat design. This Class has been sailed locally since then and although some of the boats migrated to Lough Erne the Class is still strongly supported at Cultra. Some of the boats have been substantially rebuilt in recent years. Club members have always been ready to accept new designs and in the 1930s the then new Dragon Class was adopted.
There was no club sailing during World War II but it was RNIYC members in the Dragon Class who represented Britain in the 1947 Olympic Games at Torbay. The 1970s saw the arrival of the Squib Class. The popularity of these boats has fluctuated over the years but, with thirty five boats, the Clubs fleet is now one of the largest in the British Isles.
Club racing for the Fairy, Squib and Mirror Classes and for other dinghies takes place on three occasions every week during the sailing season. Many Club members own cruising boats. Nowadays they keep them in local marinas or in Strangford Lough. Racing for the Cruisers used to include passage races organised jointly with the Clyde Cruising Club; however, these races are generally no longer popular and most cruiser racing currently is of the inshore variety. Nevertheless some of the Clubs boats can regularly been seen competing at Cork Week and in the Scottish series. Many of the Club's cruisers voyage far afield to foreign destinations whilst most enjoy the pleasure of taking their families to ports in N. Ireland and the nearby Scottish west coast and Isles.
The future of RNIYC lies in the hands of the extremely active and enthusiastic cadets who now number over one hundred.
The Club is fortunate in its location. It lies between the two centres of greatest population density in Northern Ireland and good transport links from both abroad and locally make it easy for visiting competitors to reach the excellent sailing area. The Club has in recent years hosted the Edinburgh Cup, the Squib Nationals, Mirror Irish Nationals as well as other prestigious events. The racing is always keen while functions ashore are supported with suitable entertainment and excellent club catering to suit all tastes. The Club is constantly striving to improve facilities both on and off the water.
(Details and images courtesy of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club)
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