Our Heritage

Our venerable clubhouse serves as a repository of art, trophies, artifacts and memorabilia and our history has been well documented.

Club History: “Read all about it!”

Have you ever wondered how our Club came into existence?

Let us take you back to 14 June 1862 when it all began, in a series of articles compiled by Squadron Member John Maclurcan on the origins and early history of the Squadron – as reported in the Press of the day.

Language warning, as they say on Triple J, it’s edifying Victorian prose at its best…

Opening Day 1886
1886 Season Opening
Walter Reeks
Dr Milford
The Australian
The Mistral
Alfred Fairfax
Hon. George Thornton MLC
James Milson Jnr
The Petrel
The Friendship
SMH 1915
  1. Several Gentlemen meet to discuss reviving the Sydney Yacht Club
     Saturday, 14th June, 1862 – Sydney Mail
  2. How we obtained Royal Patronage and the origins of our Club Burgee
    Friday, 3rd July, 1863 – Empire (Sydney)
  3. A lively account of the opening harbour race, featuring some oddly familiar boat names
    Saturday, 14th November, 1863 – Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle
  4. The scene is set for a Harbour race. They don’t write race reports like that any more!
    Saturday, 30th January, 1864 – Sydney Mail
  5.  The exciting conclusion to the ‘First Class Yacht Race’ commenced last week
    Saturday, 30th January, 1864 – Sydney Mail
  6. To mark ANZAC Day 2020, we jumped forward to 1915 for sad news of a Squadron Member. Vale Capt. Stewart Milson.
    Monday, 8th November, 1915 – The Sydney Morning Herald
  7. Meet James Milson Jnr, our first Vice Commodore. At the time of this interview, he recalled regattas from 1834!
    Saturday, 30th January, 1897 – The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser
  8. Meet Mr. George Thornton, one of the founders of the Squadron. He rescued numerous souls in peril in the shark-infested harbour.
    Saturday, 30th January, 1897 – The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser
  9. Henry Cary Dangar served as Commodore from 1767 to 1875. He recalls fine ‘crack’ yachts competing in a race.
    Saturday, 30th January, 1897 – The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser
  10. Dr. Milford was the younger brother of one of the original signatories when our Club was formed and an enthusiastic yachtsman.
    Saturday, 30th January, 1897 – The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser
  11. A challenge for the America’s Cup is under consideration
    Saturday, 17th November, 1888 – The Evening News
  12. Opening Day 1886  ‘was celebrated with a series of evolutions in the harbour and a luncheon at Cremorne…’
    Monday, 18th October, 1886 – The Sydney Morning Herald
  13. Sydney welcomes HRH the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Alfred
    Saturday, 1st February, 1868 – The Sydney Morning Herald
  14. An assassination attempt on His Royal Highness.
    Saturday, 14th March, 1868 – Sydney Mail
  15. A Splendid Fete at RSYS with the objective of equipping Graythwaite,
    Sunday, 18th July, 1915 – The Sun
  16. RSYS recommences racing following The Great War and Spanish Influenza.
    Saturday, 8th February, 1919 – The Daily Telegraph

‘Sydney Sails’

Members may not be aware that the Club produced a book, called ‘Sydney Sails’, in 1962 to commemorate their Centenary.  The book was compiled by P. R. Stephenson and his ‘Acknowledgements’ at the start of the book provide a worthy description of the project.  The book came in a cardboard sleeve for protection and has become somewhat of a Collector’s Item.  While the Club no longer has copies available for purchase, they can be picked up at second-hand bookstores and we urge you to grab a copy if you find one, for the Club, if not yourself.

The volume is a source of information for the History Committee, particularly when answering enquiries from Members.  In recent years, the volume has been digitally scanned and is reproduced below.  Furthermore, with the advent of ‘Trove’ and the ability to scan early newspapers in the comfort of your home, a number of corrections have been identified and they too are available below.

View Acknowledgements and Corrections

Download the PDF of Sydney Sails   – warning: it is 32MB.

Archive Browser

The History Committee has sponsored a project to catalogue in a database all the Squadron artefacts and memorabilia.

The goal is to create an accurate and up-to-date record of the location, description and historical information of the Squadron’s ‘treasures’.

The database has so far been populated with more than 700 items which represent 99% of the items on display around our clubhouse and also many of those hidden away in the dark recesses of the Squadron. Included are the artworks and photographs on the walls, the trophies in the cabinets and the many pieces of memorabilia such as tillers, bells and models on display.

Members are warmly encouraged to explore the Archive by logging in below.