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Friends Visit The Royal Thames Yacht Club

Friends Visit The Royal Thames Yacht Club

Friends view paintings at the Royal Thames Yacht Club

The multi layered secrets of London never fail to astonish. Here on the edge of Hyde Park, with spectacular views of the autumn colours along Rotten Row is a yacht club house. Mystified? Well I was too so I had to join this Friends’ tour to find out more.

We were given an introduction to the historic roots of the club by the current Secretary, Captain David Freeman. He explained that the idea of racing yachts started on the Thames at Vauxhall Gardens in the 18th century. From there it grew to the vast international sport it is today. The Americas Cup has been tussled over by several entrants supported by members of the RTYC. Gold Olympians from Rio are members of the club as are other greats of the yacht racing world.

Nick Bonham who has been the curator of the club’s treasured art collection then took us on a tour of the picture galleries. At this point I became very muddled by the detailed explanations of the different types of sail rigging over the years so cant give you details of which boats were gaff rigged, which were ketches and which yawls. But they all had big sails and a lot of rigging.

My sailing expertise doesn’t stretch much beyond the rowing boats on the Serpentine but I was able to admire the beautiful painting of yacht Livonia staggering across a stormy Atlantic ocean with a broken bowsprit (that’s the pole sticking out of the front – don’t know what its for) on its way to another attempt to wrest the Americas Cup out of the hands of our transatlantic competitors. Apparently we were robbed by our American cousins on several occasions with them rewriting the rules to suit.

There were other charming paintings of Cowes in the 1930’s with cars lined along the front by the castle. Perhaps the one that made the biggest impression was the first known painting of a yacht race in the world which was at Vauxhall Gardens in the late 18th Century. Wow! What a treasure.

The lobby has a couple of carrara marble lions guarding the lounge bar and an extensive collection of trophies on display.

Some of us then adjourned to the restaurant for a delicious lunch overlooking our beloved parks and were treated to a practice march past of the horse guards in full dress.

So well done to the Friends’ organisers for arranging yet another fascinating peak behind the front doors of a London institution.

A HPKG Friend

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