It is said that a yacht sailing on its own is cruising but once in company with another yacht, the cruise becomes a race. Throw in a thousand guineas wager and you have the answer to how yacht racing really began.

The Royal start to the sport was soon to be stuttered to a virtual standstill as the first Dutch Wars kept yachts in port. It was maybe surprising that by the time of the £100 Cup Race, challenged for in 1851, better known as the original ‘America’s Cup Race, sailing and yacht racing had become a major spectator sport in Britain.

Fifty years earlier, however, little is written about the sport on the Solent, or frankly anywhere else, with evidence that only a few privileged people enjoyed sailing as a pastime; but the roots of yacht racing stretch back much further.

The word ‘Yacht’ used to describe a sailing vessel first entered the French language around 1551 but the design of the first British vessel to be called a yacht was that of a Dutch Jachtschip arriving on the scene in 1660. The talk takes us from there to the year of the Great Exhibition.

Richard Vaughan Frankland

Richard holds a Masters Degree in Maritime Studies and has a keen interest in history. His early working life was as a construction engineer, later administering large civil and industrial projects in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
 In retirement he also started a career as a thriller writer and now has five novels published and a sixth out later this year. He is a keen sailor, crewing on friends yachts whenever they have deck space.

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The Royal British Legion Club, Haig House, Pelican Lane, Newbury RG14 1NP