YACHTING, L'ART DE VIVRE LA MER
Yacht Class n°21(june-july-august 2020)
The Yacht Club de Monaco, along with the Automobile Club, is one of the most prestigious and active sports and social institutions in Monaco. Created in 1953 by Prince Rainier to become one of the key components of the economic and tourist development of the port of Monaco, it has managed over the years, by combining high level sport, social and mundane life, to make Principality of Monaco, the world's capital of Yachting. This success is a result the three essential criteria to the launch of any enterprise : political will, skills and means.
Text: Noëlle Duck – Photos : Gilles Martin-Raget, Carlo Borlenghi, Thierry Ameller, MC-Clic, Franck Terlin, Isabelle Touquette, Mesi, Guillaume Plisson, Fausto Picedi, Jack Esten & Georges Lukomski / Archives du Palais princier & DR
The creation of the Yacht Club de Monaco
As an example, we selected two clubs that perpetuate the tradition, conveying the values that make yachting much more than just a sport, but a philosophy, a philosophy of life even. One is the oldest entity in the world, the Royal Cork Yacht Club, created in 1720, the other is more recent, the Yacht Club de Monaco, born in 1953. Twinned since 2015, they are both born from the will of forward-thinking sovereigns who wished, through the development of a sport, to provide their country with a promotion and outreach tool. In Ireland, it was the beginnings of pleasure boating and in Monaco, the remarkable evolution of sailing as a true social phenomenon that the fifties were going to simply name 'pleasure boating'.
During the inauguration of the Yacht Club, on June 17th 1953, Prince Rainier III declared "the future of Monaco lies with the sea". At the beginning of the fifties, Prince Rainier III, himself a keen sailor, and not only in the Mediterranean, foresaw that post-war prosperity would lead to a yachting boom. He decided then to found in Monaco a yacht club like those he visited during his cruises. The main thrust of the Prince's proposal was that the Yacht Club should also be a key factor in the development of Monaco's port, the spearhead of tourism in the Principality.
Monaco, already perceived as a quality port for a stopover, had to become famous as a centre for marine leisure activities : pleasure boating and top-level yacht racing, water skiing, diving, marine archaeology, and promoting awareness among young people of the marine habitat and environment. The future club was at once to acquire all the facilities required to host and practice these disciplines.
On 17th June 1953, the Constitutive Assembly was held in the International Hydrographic Bureau's premises on the Quai des Etats-Unis, in the presence of Prince Rainier. The board of directors, immediately appointed, then met as laid down in the by-laws to elect the Bureau. Called upon to become High President of the Yacht Club de Monaco, Prince Rainier addressed the assembly: "I am deeply touched by your gesture and I thank you most sincerely. It is therefore without the least hesitation that I accept the Presidency you offer, and I warmly welcome the creation of the Yacht Club de Monaco. All the more so in that I believe it fulfils a real long-standing need.
It was indeed my desire that we could welcome and bring together the yachtsmen who come here, with an organization worthy of the tourist facilities offered by the principality.
This need now has been met, thanks to the enthusiasm and hard work of Mr. Paul Gingoux and his staff at the International Sporting Club ; I thank them and congratulate them on bringing this project to fruition so rapidly.
I would also like to thank the Société des Bains de Mer for its understanding and effort in bringing this club to life and making its club-house so attractive…
I hope most sincerely that the Yacht Club de Monaco will succeed in creating links between lovers of the sea, that it will enhance the attractiveness and the reputation of Monaco and that it will, both at home and abroad, inspire fellow-feeling and friendship".
Since the club had no premises of its own it was accommodated by the SBM, in the former pottery, avenue d'Ostende. And the SBM even installed a showcase in the lobby of the Hôtel de Paris to display the Yacht Club's cups and trophies. And with no more ado, all hands set to work !
Sports, glamour and prestige
Prince Rainier III remained president of the Yacht Club until 1966, doubly qualified both as Sovereign committed to the development of the port of Monaco and an experienced sailor. He had owned many pleasure crafts, both sailing boats and motor yachts, visiting seas and oceans with his family on summer cruises. These were for him an absolute priority in 1955 he turned down an invitation to the Agadir Yacht Club in August for the Agadir-Las Palmas offshore race, "as he will be cruising at the time". Princess Caroline perpetuates the tradition summer family cruises on her motor-yacht Pacha III.
Princess Grace, whose father and brother were both rowing champions, sailed a Star, the favourite boat of the sons and daughters of good East Coast families – the Kennedy brothers were championship winners – and she could often be seen in the bay of Monaco at the helm of Nibbly. Obviously their children, used to sailing from their earliest childhood, were no strangers to the sea. And it was Prince Albert II who decided in 1995 to purchase Tuiga, described by Eric Tabarly as "one of the most beautiful yachts in the world".
Whenever possible, the Sovereign Prince attended the regattas to signal the start of races from his own yacht ; or he world visit the port at the helm of a Riva. A great friend of Carlo Riva, the Sovereign, still visionary, had anticipated the success of the magnificent motorboats from Lake Iseo and supported his installation on the port of Monaco, which is still today Riva's base in the Mediterranean.
In 1954, the Grande Semaine Internationale de la Voile attracted International 6-metres, 5.5s and Stars. That year came to a triumphant end on December 18th with the Coupe Monégasque de Noël de ski nautique : water-skiing was at that time a very fashionable summer sport both in the Riviera coastal resorts and on inland lakes.
At the same time, Prince Rainier III pursued a policy of prestige, making members of several royal families Honorary Members : his own sister, Princess Antoinette, as from summer 1953 : then Prince Philipp of Edinburgh, Long Gustave VI of Sweden, ex-king Farouk of Egypt, in exile in Rome and a frequent visitor to the principality, and Infant Juan Carlos of Spain. Two journalists Pierre Lazareff and Jacques Goddet, general manager of the newspaper L'Equipe, received the coveted card, but on the political side, one can note that Maurice Arrexck, mayor of Toulon, had to write to request one.
In 1984, Prince Hereditary Albert was appointed by Prince Rainier III as President of the Yacht Club. At 26 year-old, the future Sovereign inspired a multifaceted development. An accomplished athlete and a high-caliber manager, he created or encouraged the organization of major international competitions. Regattas were run in Monaco – the Primo Cup in winter, the maxis in summer - a transatlantic race was even organized between Monaco and New-York. These top level races attracted owners, but also the finest international crews who appreciated the warm welcome, the sense of celebration and the unique setting offered by Port Hercules. One could even come to enjoy the moods of the capricious winds that make the water body very technical !
Since its creation, the YCM sailing division, sponsored by Princess Caroline, educates all the Monegasque children. It is a sailor incubator, where owners pick up their crews. This is where values are passed on, and young sportsmen turned into the yachtsmen of tomorrow, one of the values to which all the Yacht Club is attached, which unite generations.
In 1994, to celebrate Prince Albert's 10th anniversary of presidency, the Club organised an innovative event, dedicated to classical yachting, which was in full revival at that time. The Monaco Classic Week (MCW) brings together motorboats, motor-yachts and traditional sailing boats. A new kind of gathering that still today draws attracts every two years in Monaco the most beautiful yachts in the world, gathered by enthusiast shipowners. That year, in Saint-Tropez, the Nioulargue is at its best and its big winner was a 15 Metre Internationl rule boat : Tuiga, a 1909 gaff cutter designed by the famous Scottish architect William Fife. This work of art, which had just undergone a restoration, seduced Prince Albert II and all his staff. A few months later, Tuiga became the flagship of the Yacht Club de Monaco. Out of a series of twenty 15 Metre Class - or 15 M International Rule –, only four have survived. And in 2011, the Yacht Club brought them together for a historic regatta, the highlight of the MCW, 73 years after their last race together !
The Yacht Club, cramped in its premises on Quai Antoine 1er, deserved a Club House worthy of its success. The architect Norman Foster was commissioned to design this immaculate "ocean liner", which took ten years to build and was inaugurated in June 2014. According to the yachtsmen from all over the world present that evening, it is the most beautiful in the world ! With 2 000 members, representing 60 nationalities, the Club brings together under its burgee the largest number of private yachts in the world. Their owners interacts wihtin La Belle Classe Tradition, where today's yachtsmen are united to perpetuate the naval etiquette and the spirit of seafarers.
There were still paper nautical charts back then : in the early fifties, Prince Rainier (photo) was preparing his summer cruise in the deck saloon he had fitted out on Moonbeam IV, a yacht designed and built by William Fife, launched after the war in 1920 and which was renamed Deo Juvante (the motto of the Grimaldi family that means with the help of God). He had also transformed the gaff cutter rig into a ketch, much easier to handle with a small crew. This was days before classic yachting enthusiasts started looking for and restoring as faithfully as possible to their original configuration what were to be considered true masterpieces ; the alterations made by the Prince, now considered a crime against heritage, had not raised eyebrows at that time. In 1955, Prince Rainier replaced the sailboat with the motor yacht Deo Juvante II, where he would spend his honeymoon. Thirty years later, an unscrupulous broker, in charge of charter marketing the Moonbeam IV, advertises the owner's cabin in his brochure as the place was where the Princely couple had spent their wedding night.
What brings together the yacht clubs from all over the world
When you look at the list of clubs twinned with the Yacht Club de Monaco, yachtsmen from various nations were obviously committed to forge links allowing them to meet up in clubs similar to their own and to feel at home, taking advantage of the hospitality and infrastructure that make their stopover a privileged moment. Here's how the statutes of the YCM define the twinning with another club :
Twinning between clubs enables :
– The development of sporting activities between clubs, with all members being able to participate freely under equal conditions
– Free access for society members of the twinned clubs to the premises, restaurant and lounges and services on offer on presentation of their membership card
– Exchanges between the two clubs Sailing Schools, including competitions and coaches.
– Any active member of a club who takes up residence in the country of a twinned club is obliged to change affiliation to that club after six months residence and to conform to the statutes of the club concerned.
Actually, when looking at the history of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, we discovered that actually the English did not create Yachting, but it was the Irish, and Ireland being an independent republic we cannot say "the British" either ! But, far from chauvinism, we owe it to the English to have, when they were the masters of the maritime world, wanted to restore some of their habits in the remotest parts of their colonial empire. The oldest Asian yacht club, the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, twinned with the YCM, was created in 1826, during the commercial epic of the East India Company, and the British colonization. The Royal Bombay Yacht Club, as early as 1846, brought together her Majesty's subjects serving in the Vice-Kingdom of India. The one in Hong Kong, at the vanguard of China, which still today trains generations of outstanding racers, offered the benefits of a splendid water body, vey exposed to the wind and dotted with islands planted in a devilishly exotic emerald green water. In the Mediterranean, the Royal Yacht Club Malta, located at the port entrance of this arid rock ideally placed between East and West, offered the coolness of its marble floors and the comfort of its Chesterfield sofas on the return from the first great Mediterranean offshore race, the Middle Sea Race. In Spain, where sovereigns participated in high-level regattas, the RCN Barcelona has welcomed yachts cruising in the Western Mediterranean since 1879.
In South America, Argentina and Brazil have dynamic clubs, created by Europeans who relocated there during the 19th century. While in the United States, the New York Yacht Club, the most venerable institution on the East Coast, has written the most beautiful pages of the yachting history with the America's Cup saga. New York has another club, which organizes regattas at the foot of Manhattan - its most important sports club - led by a team that would not miss the Monaco Classic Week for the world : the Manhattan Yacht Club is, among the reciprocal clubs, one of the most dynamic of all those linked with the YCM.
This non-exhaustive overview leads us to the oldest Yacht Club in the world: the Royal Cork Yacht Club, South of Ireland, twinned since June 28th 2015 with the Yacht Club de Monaco.
La Belle Classe
La Belle Classe is based on shared common values and the desire to respect and promote a long tradition of know-how where prestige, elegance and excellence are the main foundations of their art of living, based on fundamental values :
– Preservation of our maritime heritage and its yachts.
– Respect for naval etiquette.
– Protection of the sea and the environment.
– Preservation of the maritime heritage and respect for all craft and elements considered as forming part of, or being ancillary to, that heritage.
– Respect for history, and the maintenance and conservation of the yacht which the owner has under his or her care, and on behalf of which the owner shall make every effort to preserve its authenticity and original design.
– Observance of maritime customs and regulations, concerning mutual assistance, fellowship and hospitality in accordance with naval etiquette, on land as at sea.
– Participation in traditional yacht gatherings, promoting courteous and respectful behaviour as befits a gentleman, at all times and in all circumstances towards other competitors, yachts and people in general.
– Sharing and communicating the pleasures of the sea and its values.
– Respect for the environment and the sea.
Whoever applies these principles can honour himself with the title of yachtsman.
Thomas Fouilleron and Sylvie Ruau, Archives of the Prince's Palace of Monaco. Gavin Deane, General manager of the RCYC. Isabelle Andrieux, Maguelonne Turcat for their availability in these trouble times, as all archives and communication department were closed.