The Republic of Singapore Yacht Club
The Republic of Singapore Yacht Club (RSYC) is a maritime recreational society and club for yachting enthusiasts. It was established in 1826 and is the oldest recreational or social club of any theme in Singapore. It is also the first yacht club in Asia. It was known as the Royal Singapore Yacht Club till 1967, when it changed its name to the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club to coincide with the country’s independence two years earlier.
The Club has its founding roots with men who were part of Sir Stamford Raffles’ initial voyage to the island. William Montgomerie served as the first president of the Club from 1826. It was initially known as just the Singapore Yacht Club, but changed its name to the Royal Singapore Yacht Club in 1922 after it came under the Patronage of the then Prince of Wales and later King Edward VIII. This variation of the name remained till 1967.
Apart from the Prince of Wales, other prominent Patrons of the Club have been King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. Singapore’s first President, Yusof bin Ishak, became the first local Patron of the Club in 1967 and the name of the Club was subsequently changed to reflect the shift in patronage and the independence of the country.
Singapore’s former President, Ong Teng Cheong, was chosen as the club’s Patron in 1997. He was the Guest-of-Honour at the Club’s 174th anniversary celebrations in June 17, 2000 and opened the club’s current clubhouse and marina.
His Excellency, President SR Nathan, is the current Patron of the RSYC and has been so since 2004, while Balakrishnan B. is the Commodore. The Club also has four serving Honorary Members, namely His Royal Highness Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Sultan of Johor, Rear Admiral Teo Chee Hean, Professor S. Jayakumar and Dr. Tan Cheng Bock.
To acknowledge and commemorate the long and prestigious history of the RSYC, the National Heritage Board installed a plaque in the club’s premises during the occasion, to mark it as historically significant to Singapore.
In 1920, the RSYC opened its original clubhouse at Trafalgar Street in Tanjong Pagar. It was opened by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Laurence Guillemard, who was then the Governor of the Straits Settlements. He also served as the Club’s Commodore from 1922 to 1927.
After independence, the Club had to relinquish its clubhouse premise location to the Port of Singapore Authority to make way for a container terminal. As a result, the RSYC, with the help of the British Army, reclaimed five acres of mangrove swamp along Sungei Pandan to build a new clubhouse. President Yusof bin Ishak officially opened the new clubhouse on October 8 1966, upon invitation from the Club.
The RSYC made a third relocation when it moved to its current premise at 52, West Coast Ferry Road in August 1999. Its official opening ceremony was held a year later, graced by the then President Ong Teng Cheong. The state-of-the-art clubhouse, designed by Edward Wong of Alfred Wong Partnership Pte Ltd, is an award winner in its own right. In July 2001, the building was the recipient of a Singapore Institute of Architects' (SIA) Architectural Design Award in the recreational category at the 2001 SIA Architectural Design Awards. The new building was cited by the judges as the following- “The nautical theme of the Yacht Club is projected as a strong architectural statement, well-choreographed entrance sequence to the complex, as well as the expressive roof form, the construction of which is expressed in the interior.”
Despite the RSYC’s legacy and motive, owning a boat is not a pre-requisite to joining the club. Approximately 20 percent of club members are owners of yachts or other types of sea-faring vessels. The RSYC also functions as a regular social club with emphasis on a maritime lifestyle.
The RSYC offers accommodation and services for a short-term local getaway. It boasts 32 guestrooms, restaurants, bars and other leisure and entertainment outlets. The club also has comprehensive boating facilities with 168 wet berths and 135 dry berths for members and visiting yachtsmen.
The RSYC has also been instrumental in several sea sports, both recreationally and competitively, over the decades. In 1923, famed yachting enthusiast and renowned tea merchant, Sir Thomas Lipton, of Lipton Tea brand legacy, donated the Lipton Cup to the RSYC. Since 1987, the Lipton Cup has been used as the centerpiece for the winner of the Perpetual Cup Series, a combination of three regional regattas, the Singapore Straits Regatta, Raja Muda International Regatta, and the Phuket King's Cup.
Independently, the RSYC most notably holds the annual RSYC Regatta, a premier local club yachting event open to all local clubs and marinas. The RSYC Regatta is the oldest regatta held in Singapore and traces its origins to as far back as the early 1920s. Apart from the traditional race formats, the regatta has also added the Round-the-Island Challenge and the Passage Race to Tioman to its competition schedule in recent years. The Regatta is held over a two weekend period in July.
Apart from competitive events, the RSYC is also active in organising recreational activities and holding courses and sailing lessons for its members. It also offers short-distance trips to locations along Singapore’s southern coast and offshore locations such as Pulau Pawai, Indonesia’s Bintan and Batam as well as Malaysia’s Tioman.
Expat Living. (2009, September). Setting sail with the Singapore Yacht club. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://expatliving.sg/article/activities/setting-sail-singapore-yacht-club
HeritageTrails.sg. (2009). Republic of Singapore Yacht Club. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://heritagetrails.sg/content/660/
Republic_of_Singapore_Yacht_Club.htmlRSYC. (2006). RSYC About Us. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.rsyc.org.sg/aboutus
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RSYC. (2006). RSYC History. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.rsyc.org.sg/history
RSYC. (2006). RSYC Facilities. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.rsyc.org.sg/facilities
RSYC. (2006). RSYC Committee. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.rsyc.org.sg/aboutus/committee.htm
RSYC. (2006). RSYC NHB Plaque. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.rsyc.org.sg/history/nhbplaque.htm
RSYC. (2006). RSYC History. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.rsyc.org.sg/history/chronology.htm
RSYC. (2006). RSYC Accommodation. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.rsyc.org.sg/facilities/accom.htm
RSYC. (2008, September 1). RSYC magazine: Heritage – A Daughter Remembers Her Commodore Father, Maxwell Blake. Issue Sep/Oct 2008. Singapore: The Club. (Call no.: RSING English 797.12405 RSYC)
RSYC. (2008, November 6). RSYC magazine: Heritage – Brief History of RSYC. Issue Nov/Dec 2008. Singapore: The Club. (Call no.: RSING English 797.12405 RSYC)
RSYC. (2009, September 1). RSYC magazine: Cover Story – RSYC Regatta 2009. Issue Sep/Oct 2009. Singapore: The Club.
(Call no.: RSING English 797.12405 RSYC)
RSYCRegatta.org. (2006). About RSYC Regatta. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.rsycregatta.org/main/aboutus.htm
StraitsRegatta.com. (2005). About SSR. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.straitsregatta.com/aboutSSR.htm
StraitsRegatta.com. (2005). About SSR; Perpetual Cup Series. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.straitsregatta.com/lipton.htm
Singapore Institute of Architects. (2001). SIA Architectural Design Awards: 2001. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.sia.org.sg
The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.