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The Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club was formed in 1978 by the merger of the Royal Northern Yacht Club (RNYC) and Royal Clyde Yacht Club (RCYC).

The RNYC was established as the Northern Yacht Club in November 1824 and a Royal Charter was granted in 1830, making it one of the first yacht clubs to receive it.

The RNYC consisted of Scottish and Irish divisions, although the Irish division was dissolved in 1838.

Until 1865 membership of the Royal Northern required ownership of a yacht more than 8 tons.


After lengthy consideration a clubhouse was opened in Rothesay in 1878 which became the base for the Club's regattas. 


The RNYC moved to the current clubhouse in Rhu in 1937 merging with Gareloch Yacht Club at that time.


The RCYC started life as the Clyde Model Yacht Club in 1856 and was established to cater for owners of yachts less than 8 tons in direct response to the RNYC's threshold for membership.


As the club's reputation grew the threshold was relaxed and larger vessels were added to the club fleet. 


The club became the Royal Clyde Yacht Club after being granted a Royal charter in 1863 and a grand clubhouse was opened at Hunter's Quay in 1872.


The changing economic climate and reduction in steamer services led to the clubhouse becoming impractical. During the early 1950s the RCYC moved to a smaller base in Rhu until the merger in 1978.

Both the RNYC and the RCYC grew with the economic development of the Clyde area. Their membership included many of the major industrialists especially in the areas of shipbuilding and thread-making, and many were members of both clubs.


The clubs dominated the Scottish yachting scene from the late 19th to the early 20th century with programs of grand regattas from May to September each year.

The clubs have also been active in international competition. In 1886 the RNYC yacht 'Galatea' challenged for the America's Cup.


The following year a consortium of RCYC members challenged with the G.L. Watson-designed yacht Thistle. Thistle was later sold to Kaiser Wilhelm II and renamed Meteor. Meteor competed against the future King Edward VII's Britannia at CowesWeek from 1892-1895.

Between 1922 and 1939 the RNYC scored a total of 7 wins in the British-American Cup with yachts Coila III, Caryl, Saskia and Circe.

The first London Olympics were held in 1908 and the 12-Metre yachting gold medal was won by the RCYC yacht Hera. More recently, club member Luke Patience won Silver in the 470 class in the London 2012 Olympics. 

Over the years a great variety of yacht classes have been sailed by the clubs including local length classes, International Rule metre classes and several one designs including Dragons, Pipers and Flying Fifteens.


The Gareloch Class and some notable individual members still lavish great care on some outstanding traditional craft but today’s busy schedules favour modern, lower maintenance yachts and the success of the Sonar Class since its introduction in 2005 perhaps best demonstrates this.

Today the Club maintains its tradition of strong competition and success on the water.

RNYC Regatta at Largs, 1873

Thistle on the Clyde, 1887

Hera competing at the London Olympics, 1908

If you have a question about our history or club archives, please get in touch.

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