The Royal Victoria Yacht Club will throw open the doors to more than a century of tradition this weekend.
An open house will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the club’s facility on Ripon Road, just off Beach Drive.
“We are pleased to be in a position to showcase the wide range of nautical lifestyles our club has to offer along with some of the changes since our last open house” said Trevor Hurst, RVYC communications officer.
Saturday’s event will feature a wide range of activities for the whole family, from face painting and a treasure hunt for the kids, to information on a host of water-related activities.
“We’ll have booths set up for all the major amenities the club has to offer,” said Hurst.
Those booths will provide information on the club’s learn-to-sail programs and paddling groups as well as the club’s Martin 242 sailboats.
“We have something like 400 and some odd people move through our sailing instruction program each year,” said Hurst, adding you don’t have to be a club member to take part in the sailing instruction program. “You do have to be a member if you want to use our club facilities outside the program”
The open house will also feature a club regatta that visitors can watch from the docks.
It’s been three years since the club’s last open house and plenty has changed over that time. The biggest change has been the well over $2 million invested into replacing the docks at the club’s Cadboro Bay facility.
He said the slips have been built to accommodate the widest boats, with the docks shifting so the boats are all facing the southeast.
“We re-oriented [the docks] to point all of the boats into the prevailing weather. Boaters will notice a lot less wear and tear.”
And Hurst said the club is not done yet.
“We’re going to be paving the area for additional parking. We’re going to be expanding the tidal grid. That really means better services for members,” said Hurst, adding construction of the club’s Tsehum Harbour docks is scheduled for this summer.
But the amenities are not the only changes for the club that was founded in June 1892 in Victoria’s Inner Harbour (the club moved to its current location in Oak Bay in July 1913).
“There’s a very, very big demographic shift happening in the club right now,” said Hurst, who points to himself as a 40-year-old father of two young daughters to exemplify that shift.
“We have a lot of families and students, we’re more than just the traditional yachtsman. We’re seeing a lot more younger members, which means we have to renew the services we offer for the whole membership.”
The club even has separate groups devoted to activities such as cycling, knitting and poker.
Hurst points to a sign standing at the entrance to the club that used to say, “Private, Members Only” and now reads “New Members Welcome”.
“It’s sort of a whole new attitude.”
And Hurst expects that new attitude to be clearly on display at Saturday’s open house.
“We’re trying to get the word out there that it’s not this exclusive club that it was in the past. So please come walk through the doors and see for yourselves.”