Exploring the Surprising History of Yacht

History of Yacht: When you think of a yacht, the first thing in mind must be a boat with a fancy, luxurious boat and people having the time of their lives, soaking in the sun, and moving swiftly across the water. Everywhere you look, folks are cruising around in them for fun or competing in yacht clubs near large bodies of water. But did a yacht always look like this? Well, No.

The term, concept and idea of a yacht did not exist like they do today. The history of yachts will take you by surprise. The yacht you see these days was very different back then; it was simply a boat. So, where did they come from in the first place? Let’s set sail on a journey through history to uncover the origins of yachting.

History of Yacht

Becalmed off Halfway Rock

Sailing has been a part of human history for thousands of years. Way back in 3,000 BC, the ancient Egyptians were already mastering the art of sea navigation and routes, using impressive boats to carry royalty to the afterlife. The human civilization had already discovered ways to make oats and use sea routes for almost 5000 years. In the rich history of Mesopotamia, Egyptians and Indus people, along with many urban civilizations, indulged in trading with each other through sea routes.

Yacht during Charles II of England

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Fast forward to the 14th century, and we witness the first-ever boat built in the yacht style. It all started with the wealthy class of Dutch merchants, who began using sleek and fast-moving boats known as “jaghts” for celebrations and leisurely outings and victories. They made the boat look fancier for their pleasure. But it was Charles II of England who truly moved the concept of yachting to new heights.

After returning to the throne from exile, he was gifted a yacht named Mary. 60 yachts, including crew 20, were given to him, which became a reason for his passion for sailing. Charles II became known as the world’s first yachtsman, building more than 20 yachts during his lifetime and dedicating extensive time to the study of navigation and naval architecture.

Together with his brother, Charles II organized the inaugural regatta in 1661, a 40-mile race on the River Thames. Katherine, Charles’ newly built yacht, beat Anne, the Duke of York’s new yacht, with Charles at the end of the race.

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While yachting remained a sport of kings for over a century, by the 1800s, yachting had grown to include more and more participants than just the kings and queens of Europe.

The excitement from this event spread like wildfire, heralding the dawn of a new “sport of kings” that would captivate enthusiasts for centuries to come. But yachting wasn’t just for royalty. While yachting remained a sport of kings for over a century, by the 1800s, yachting had grown to include more and more participants than just the kings and queens of Europe.

The Home Fleet Saluting The State Barge

As the 1700s approached, affluent individuals outside the aristocracy began acquiring and maintaining their yachts. The establishment of the Cork Water Club in Ireland in 1720 marked the birth of the first official yacht club, setting the stage for the democratization of yachting. In 1770, the Lough Ree Yacht Club was formed (again in Ireland), and in 1772, the Starcross Yacht Club was formed.

Probably the most famous of all English yacht clubs, the Royal Yacht Squadron was founded on June 1, 1815, in the Thatched House Tavern in St. James’s, London, as The Yacht Club by 42 gentlemen who were interested in yachting.

New York Yacht Club

The Valiant Temeraire was pulled to her final berth and split up (1838)

Across the Atlantic, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) emerged on July 30, 1844, sparking a new era of yacht racing. John Cox Stevens invited eight of his friends to his yacht, Gimcrack, anchored in New York Harbor at the time. They formed a syndicate to build a yacht to take her to England and make some money competing in yachting regattas and match races. At the time, there was no faster design available, so the club chose to build a Pilot-style Schooner to represent the club.

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The NYYC made news in 1851 when a contract was signed between the syndicate and master schooner designer George Steers for the construction of a 101-foot (30.78-meter) schooner, which was named America, and launched on May 3, 1851. A race was made between America’s and England’s fastest yachts. Designed to be swift and agile, America won this prestigious race around the Isle of Wight, claiming the Hundred Guinea Cup and forever etching its name in yachting history.


Hereafter, yachts became popular, not only among the wealthy but also among the normal working class.

Even though the wealthy still use yachts in large numbers, they have recently become much more accessible. Owning a yacht is not as big a status symbol as it was in the 17th century.

There are many different types of yachts available today, including day-sailing yachts, weekender yachts, cruising yachts luxury sailing yachts and racing yachts. When it comes to identifying a yacht, it has nothing to do with its size, its stature, its brand, or its power and capability. Simply put, it is a boat that has been purchased for the pleasure of its owner, just as it was when it all began.

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