Royal Victoria Yacht Club celebrates 125 years

April 29 event marks start of 125 years of sailing Victoria and Oak Bay waters

Devon MacKenzie

News contributor

The Royal Victoria Yacht Club celebrates a special opening as they kick off 125 years of sailing and cruising on the waters around Victoria.

On April 29 members from the club gather for a ceremony before taking to the water for a sail past – a procession of boats that takes place every year in April on the first day of boating season.

“This year of course is going to be a bit of a special opening day because it’s our 125th anniversary,” said Vice-Commodore, Randy Diamond. “We will have activities for the club members on the Friday night, and then Saturday is our main opening day event where we will be joined by the Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Judith Guichon.”

The Lieutenant Governor and Commodore, Gordon Wilkinson will be on the main vessel. In maritime tradition, the annual sail past involves the members (aboard their own boat or another member’s boat) passing the yacht of the club’s Commodore which is anchored in Cadboro Bay. As they pass, vessels deliver a salute by dipping the ensign (lowering and then raising the club’s flag) while passing him, with all crew standing facing him. The Commodore returns the salute.

Originally located in the Inner Harbour after being founded in 1892, the club bought the current property on off Beach Drive in 1912. Over the course of the next year the clubhouse was built and officially opened in 1913. Prior to the move to Cadboro Bay, the club’s growth and stature were recognized when King George V granted permission for the club to add the prefix “Royal” to its title.

“In the club’s history there’s been many successful events and races, including the annual Swiftsure race which attracts sailors and enthusiasts from all over,” said Diamond, adding that 2018 will mark the 75th anniversary of the race.

“We also had members of the RVYC compete in last year’s summer Olympics which was something we are very proud of,” he said. Members John McRoberts and Jackie Gay took silver at the 2016 Paralympic Games in the two-person mixed keelboat fleet. The two were also honoured this winter with the Rolex Sailor of the Year award; the most prestigious national sailing award there is.

“We’ve got a long 125-year history,” said Diamond. “We’re looking forward to this year and many more to come as the club continues to thrive and be very active.”

The sail past procession is viewable along the shore of Cadboro Bay between the yacht club and Gyro Beach on Saturday, April 29 beginning at 2:30 p.m. For more information visit rvyc.bc.ca.