The ‘Big Boat’ Era


Two of the 1971 three-boat winning British Admiral’s Cup Team sailed under the RBYC burgee, Prime Minister Ted Heath’s MORNING CLOUD, and Bob Watson’s CERVANTES IV, who came second in the Fastnet Race. The third boat was the one-legged ex-racing driver Arthur Slater’s PROSPECT OF WHITBY.

This was the only time that a serving Prime Minister represented the country in, and won, a major international sporting event . Ted Heath was an RBYC club member ,who regularly raced his three MORNING CLOUDs in Burnham Week, with a crew predominantly made up of local East Coast sailors. The Club held a special reunion dinner for him with his old MORNING CLOUD crew, shortly before he died.


In 1983 long-serving club member, Peter de Savary, led the British challenge for the America’s Cup under the RBYC’s burgee (under the ‘Deed of Gift’ NYYC rules only a  shore-based yacht club may challenge), in VICTORY 83, to be held in Newport, Rhode Island. This was towards the end of the era of 12 metres, which had replaced the J Class after WW2, as contestants for what Sir Thomas Lipton called ”The Auld Mug”.
Alan Bond’s wing-keeled AUSTRALIA II won the series. The RBYC’s VICTORY made it to the final of the Challenger Elimination Series ,being defeated by the Australian boat, which ended the Americans’ continuous 132 year run for the world’s oldest sporting trophy.

The Club’s Challenge was managed by an America’s Cup Challenge Committee of Past Commodores and Flag Officers, who represented VICTORY on the Race Committee in Newport, during the two year training run-up to the Challenge, and in the (sometimes contentious!) dealings with the defending New York Yacht Club.

Afterwards, the RBYC hosted a celebratory weekend at the Club, for the 90 strong VICTORY crew and shore team.