Our Heritage

Our Heritage

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

RSYS Archives

RSYS Archives

The History Committee has catalogued all the Squadron artefacts and memorabilia, creating 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 over 2,500 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 wishing to access Archive material are welcome to contact the History & Archives Committee.


‘Sydney Sails’

‘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.

‘Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’ 1862 – 2000

‘Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’ 1862 – 2000

In commemoration of the end of the 21st Century, the Squadron produced a follow up volume to Sydney Sails, published in 1962. Here is the Forward written by our Patron, the Duke of Edinburgh:

’Sydney Sails’ was published in 1962 to mark the centenary of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. That is now nearly 40 years ago and in the intervening years the premises of the Club, its facilities and its activities have undergone quite substantial development. Like all leading yacht clubs, the Squadron has successfully adjusted to the very considerable economic and social changes of the last half-century. This book takes the story up to the end of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

It is well worth recording the practical details of the development of the Club, but what is much more important is that it has continued to foster and encourage the sport of sailing for all ages both in Sydney’s splendid harbour and further afield in Australian and foreign waters. I believe that members have every reason to be pleased with what the Club has achieved during the last 38 years and I have every confidence that their enthusiasm for the sport will ensure that the Club continues to prosper for many years to come.

The History Committee is pleased to announce that the Second Volume of the Club’s History has been digitally scanned and is now available online for Members to read via the links below. NB the PDFs are very large, c 250MB each, so we recommend you read them insitu from the DropBox folder rather than downloading them.

1862 – 2000 Volume A

1862 – 2000 Volume B

Corrections – March 21

1862 to 2012 – the Squadron’s Sesquicentenary

1862 to 2012 – the Squadron’s Sesquicentenary

The 8th of July 1862 marks the formation of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, and in 2012 we celebrated our 150th anniversary. In this special Sesquicentenary edition of the Logbook you will find many fascinating stories of renowned Members. There are stories highlighting the great successes of the Squadron, including the Youth sailing program, our initiatives to foster women’s sailing, and our highly successful Annual Cruise.



Commodore’s Message
1862 to 2012 – the Squadron’s Sesquicentenary
1862 – Founding the Squadron
Field Guns
Innovation – from the Australian to the Australia II
Carabella – the Squadron’s Harbour home
Fort Denison Cellar
Olympic Gold and World Championships
Volunteers – still key to Race Management
The Squadron Cruise – 43 years strong
America’s Cup – the Squadron Challenges 26
Hardy Cup – Youth Match Racing 33
Women Sailing at the Squadron 34
One Design Racing – a Squadron Specialty
Youth Sailing – lifeblood of the Squadron
Intercolonial Challenges and the Sayonara Cup
Bridge and the social side of the Squadron
Cruise of the ‘Sirius’
Gascoigne Cup – from the siege of Khartoum to Sydney Harbour
Admiral’s Cup – Ultimate in Offshore Racing
Australian Yachtsman of the Year
Squadron Commodores and Life Members

Meet our early Commodores

Meet our early Commodores

Research conducted by Life Member and Club Handicapper John Maclurcan.

William Walker 1862- 1867

James Milson Jnr 1867

Henry Carey Dangar 1867-1875

William Oswald Gilchrist 1875-1882

Edward William Knox 1883-1884

James Reading Fairfax 1881-1881, 1884-1889, 1893-1895, 1904-1913

George Alfred Milson (1889-1893)

Robert Hoddle Driberg White (1895-1897)

Sir Alexander MacCormick (1897-1900), (1913-1920)

The Earl Beauchamp (1900-1901)

Thomas Allwright Dibbs (1901-1904)

Club History: “Read all about it!”

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

Several Gentlemen meet to discuss reviving the Sydney Yacht Club

  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. Sydney welcomes HRH the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Alfred
    Saturday, 1st February, 1868 – The Sydney Morning Herald
  7. An assassination attempt on His Royal Highness.
    Saturday, 14th March, 1868 – Sydney Mail
  8. 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
  9. A challenge for the America’s Cup is under consideration
    Saturday, 17th November, 1888 – The Evening News
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. The first Pointscore
    Thursday, 10th March, 1904 – The Sydney Morning Herald
  15. The Australian Cup 1911
    Wednesday, 29th June, 1910 – The Daily Telegraph
  16. The Squadron celebrates its 50th Anniversary
    Wednesday 26th June, 1912 – The Sydney Morning Herald
  17. A Splendid Fete at RSYS with the objective of equipping Graythwaite
    Sunday, 18th July, 1915 – The Sun
  18. Sad news of a Squadron Member. Vale Capt. Stewart Milson.
    Monday, 8th November, 1915 – The Sydney Morning Herald
  19. RSYS recommences racing following The Great War and Spanish Influenza
    Saturday, 8th February, 1919 – The Daily Telegraph
  20. Remembrance Day - Honour Roll, First World War
    Monday, 11th November, 1918
  21. The 1919 Torres Strait Island Cruise of Stormy Petrel
    A presentation by John Maclurcan

Treasures from the Archives

Treasures from the Archives

Every picture tells a story…

The Archives Committee have been busy identifying, documenting and digitising more of the Squadron’s historical collection, and as on an archaeological dig, some days you hit pay dirt and come up with treasures.

Foudroyant Shield 

Recently, I noticed a trophy placed on the picture rail in Wudyong barely visible above the crested goods and clothing for sale and certainly not visible to the members. Rob Ridley rescued it for me and I took it up to Archives for further investigation. It was the Foudroyant Shield and what a story was behind it!

A number of plaques are mounted on it, starting in 1972, jumping to 1984, then awarded in most years until 2002. On the back was another plaque announcing it was given by the RSYS in 1972 for a team’s event for the Half Ton Class.

Read here

HMAS Adelaide in Neutral Bay

Hanging on the wall of the Archives room is an unusual photograph identified as ‘HM Submarines Virtue, Voracious, Vox, Turpin and Taurus alongside HMAS Adelaide, 23 January 1946’. The framed photograph was presented to the Squadron by Commander G. P. S. Davies OBE RN, Senior Officer Submarines Sydney 1945–46.

Read here

Anyone for tennis?

“Carabella”, like many estates of the time, contained tennis courts. There are two newspaper references within the first six months of the Club taking occupancy of the premises. They also describe a new type of entertainment, ‘A Squadron Afternoon’ which became an item of interest in the social pages of the day.

Read the story here

Billiards at the Club

100 years ago it was mandatory at a Gentleman’s Club to have a Billiard Room. Billiards was a serious competitive sport. While there is evidence that there was dedicated space for this purpose as early as 1904, it was sometime later that the space was refurbished.

Pictured is a photo of the newly refurbished Billiard Room which the History Committee have dated to this period.

Read the story here – and a recent postscript

Milson and the mysterious German

In one yellowing envelope marked ‘Old Photos’ there was a series of intriguing sepia prints…

Pictured is one-time Commodore Alfred Milson. But what of handsome German Otto Bauer, giving no hint of the intrigue that would soon follow him…

Read the story here

EW Tawse Tankard

A mysterious box revealed a heavily tarnished silver tankard engraved with the date 22nd Oct, 1918. In 2021 we delved into the story behind the tankard. In 2022 it was reunited with its family in the UK. How wonderful to bring the tale full circle!

Read the updated article here

Opening Day Poem

Tucked into a package of memorabilia passed to Archives was a poem. It had clearly come from a book because at the bottom of the page was the number 42, but we know not what the book is. Our Archives sleuth got on the case and was able to identify that it describes Opening Day on the 21st of November, 1865.

Read here

Albert Ross Farewell

In March 1913, Mr. James Albert Ross and his wife took a world tour. This is a testimonial, beautifully crafted with wit and humour, by his crew and friends to commemorate his departure. The top left image depicts Mr. Ross at the helm of Thelma, which was wrecked just before he went overseas.

View here

Iolanthe rounding Bradley’s Head

This photo was taken in the late 1880s. Using the angle of the wind and the yacht names, our Archives detectives searched through newspaper articles from that decade – and found some answers in The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser of 1888.

Read the story here

The Varuna Cup

In 1986, a Cup was presented to the Club to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the yacht Varuna, owned by John Musgrove, who had owned the boat for almost all of her life.

Read the story here

R.H. Goddard's History of Yachting in NSW

A slim book was discovered in the Library titled “EARLY YACHTING Record of a Great Sport” by R.H. Goddard.

Read the story here

Hunt's Yachting Magazine 

Two volumes of Hunt’s Yachting Magazine have been found, donated, and we think signed, by our first Commodore, William Walker, at the time of his resignation in April, 1867. The volumes are for 1853 and 1863.

Read the story here

Beecroft Watercolours

Beecroft Watercolours

The northern entrance to the Club is lined with framed caricatures. They are the work of Lawrence Herbert Beecroft, painter, miniaturist and lecturer. In 1908 he was invited by Frank Albert to begin a series of humorous but genteel studies of Club Members. Each portrait usually has a suitably chosen nautical background, reflecting the personality or the role at the Club of the subject. The subjects form a Who’s Who of Club Life and indeed, Sydney’s beau monde, in the early years of the 20th Century.

In 2019 the History Committee oversaw their restoration. A digitised copy of each painting was created and hung, and the originals stored safely for long term preservation.

Life Member and Club Handicapper John Maclurcan researched these paintings and publish a series of articles.

Edward (Ned) Hungerford

Art Treasures of the Squadron

Art Treasures of the Squadron

Have you ever admired the paintings around our clubhouse and wished you knew more about the artist, the events depicted or the connection to RSYS?

Squadron Member Robyn Coleman is researching a selection of our most important paintings.

Gypsy Moth IV in the vicinity of Cape Horn

by John Allcot, hangs in the Club main entrance.

Read the article here

Gretel Wins Race 2 America’s Cup 1962

by John Allcot, hangs outside the Carabella Room

Read the article here

Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron

by Ian Hansen, hangs in the Neutral Bay Verandah

Read the article here

Rovers Bride

by Jack Earl OAM, hangs in the Kurraba Reading Room

Read the article here

Shamrock V in the Solent – 1930

by Peter Anderson, hangs in the Kurraba Reading Room

Read the article here

HMY Britannia

By Norman Wilkinson, in the hallway leading to the Carabella Room

Read the article here

Norske, Saskia and Erica

by Ian Hansen, hangs in the Members Bar

Read the article here

The Hon. William Walker

By Eugene Montague Scott, hangs in the Neutral Bay Verandah

Read the article here

Barque Veritas

By John Allcot, hangs in the hallway by the Carabella Room

Read the article here


By Oswald Brierly, hangs in the Reception hallway

Read the article here


By Peter Yeomans, hangs in the hallway of the Carabella Room

Read the article here

HMS Victory

By John Allcot, hangs in the Neutral Bay Verandah

Read the article here

Royal Sydney Yacht Club

By John Allcot, hangs in the Main Hallway

Read the article here

Interstate Challenges (Sayonara Cup)

Interstate Challenges including the Sayonara Cup

The Interstate Challenges at the turn of the last century subsequently became known as the Sayonara Cup. These were big news stories in the press of the day, and have been researched and collated by Squadron Member John Maclurcan.

The first Interstate Challenge 1904

Wednesday, 15th July, 1903 – The Daily Telegraph read here

The second Interstate Challenge (a long story, broken for you into four chapters)

Part 1 – ‘The Lead up’

13th October, 1906 – The Sydney Morning Herald read here

Part 2 – ‘La Carabine Cup’

5th January, 1907 – The Sydney Morning Herald read here

Part 3 – ‘The Sayonara Cup'

Thursday, 17th January, 1907 – The Australian Star read here

Part 4 – ‘The Controversy’

Friday, 18th January, 1907 – The Melbourne Age read here

The 1908 Challenge

Thursday, 28th March, 1907 – The Sydney Morning Herald read here

The 1909 Challenge

Friday, 30th October, 1908 – The Sydney Morning Herald read here

The 1910 Challenge

Wednesday, 9th March, 1910 – Referee read here

Interstate Challenge 1911

Thursday, 28th July, 1910 – Evening News read here

Interstate Challenge 1912

Wednesday, 2nd August, 1911 – The Sydney Morning Herald read here

With the advent of The Great War, the Sayonara Cup was not resumed until 1928.

Interstate Challenge 1923 

Wednesday, February, 1923 - The Albert and Forster Cups read here

Squadron Vessels

Squadron Vessels

  1. Karrawingi Read the article here
  2. Caprice Read the article here
  3. Margaret Rintoul and Fidelis Read the article here
  4. Rapunzel Read the article here
  5. Morag Bheag and Maratea Read the article here
  6. Nina Read the article here
  7. Anitra V Read the article here
  8. Zeus II Read the article here
  9. Wine Dark Sea Read the article here
  10. Phoebe Read the article here