The Royal Temple Yacht Club was founded in 1857 by a group of yachtsmen sailing from the Temple Steps, on the River Thames in the centre of London. Yachting as a sport had been established for some time and similar clubs were being opened throughout the UK.
Club racing started on the London River but as the industrial revolution gathered pace commercial traffic on the river made racing increasingly difficult. Races began to be moved further and further down the river, until eventually it was decided that a more suitable base for racing should be found.
The Ramsgate Clubhouse was opened in 1896 but London remained the club’s centre of social activity. During this time it was not uncommon for members to hold grand banquets and bohemian concerts in order to raise additional funds for the club.
At the turn of the century 2,000 members dined annually at the Hotel Cecil. The Commodore at that time was Baron De Rothschild who was always accompanied by his close friend The Prince of Wales. The Royal Charter was granted in 1897 and the Admiralty Warrant to wear the Blue Ensign was granted in 1898.
The club launched an annual Ramsgate Week regatta in 1898 which included a days racing at Deal and Broadstairs. It is not surprising that it took some time to break down the prejudice of the paid hands to racing in the neighbourhood of the Goodwin and Brake Sands, but racers soon discovered that the waters of Ramsgate provided excellent courses for yachts of all sizes.
Caption- Races would start with the yachts at anchor. Cannons would fire blank charges from the Pier Head to alert the paid hands to weigh anchor and hoist sails. This often resulted in a chaotic mess with boats colliding and tangling their rigging. Its not surprising that the Coast Guards had to be kept on hand to fire the cannon and assist the racers.
During the late nineteenth century, Ramsgate Week enjoyed many famous participants. The German Emperor’s schooner “Meteor” raced from Ramsgate until the First World War and King George V’s lovely cutter “Britannia” raced regularly until 1924.
In 1897 the Royal Temple historically challenged and beat the French in their own waters at the Coupe de France. The club famously laid on steamers so that members could follow the racing at Cannes. During the three years of racing, the Temple yachtsmen repeatedly won and attracted much attention from America. Soon after, an American team entered the competition with a yacht called “America” and donated a new trophy. This trophy is now known internationally as the America’s Cup.
During the Wars
During the brief period between the two world wars the big J class schooners had something of a heyday. In 1940 the RTYC clubhouse was requisitioned by the navy and named HMS Fervant, where it became an officers mess and control room for all the various naval activities in the North Foreland area. Unfortunately, after the war things were slow to recover and racing was mainly confined to small days boats such as Essex one designs and Dragons, which frequently crossed the channel to race in Ostend.
During the 1950’s our regatta was known as Kent Yachting Week and by the 1970’s the name had changed to Thanet Week which incorporated dinghy sailing. The dinghy racing eventually declined but with the invention of plastic hulled yachts, our IOR rated fleet expanded and Ramsgate Week was re-launched.
A world-class location
The Clubhouse commands spectacular views over the Ramsgate Marina, as well as the Royal Harbour. It is also possible to catch glimpses of the Downs, the Goodwin Sands and South Foreland, as well as the French coast on a fine day. The club is situated at the sailing crossroads of Europe and the club boasts a higher number of visiting foreign yachts than any other in the country. The RTYC is well known for its hospitality and visiting yachtsmen are always warmly welcomed by the club as temporary members, and may use all the clubs facilities including accommodation.
Ramsgate is also recognised as a starting point for many record breaking attempts. Steve Fossett, a former Club member, started and finished at Ramsgate when he claimed the Round Britain record in ‘Playstation 2’; he also landed at nearby Manston (Kent International Airport) in his record breaking transatlantic flight. Dame Ellen MacArthur, also a club member, is much associated with the Club and is fondly remembered for allowing her to be raffled as a prize crew during a recent Ramsgate Week. Christian Rattell and his crew aboard ‘Duece Follie’, from Boulogne, were delighted to have Ellen sail with them in the Ramsgate Gold Cup Race.