The story began in early 1600s...
Yacht Class n°21(june-july-august 2020)
Indeed, it was at this time that the idea of owning boats for private pleasure was born somewhere in the Netherlands, where the young King of England Charles II, also King of Scotland and Ireland, driven out by Cromwell, found refuge in 1648. He discovered there the pleasures of sailing. When his exile ended in 1660, he brought back a yacht named Mary, which he sailed on the Thames. Obviously, his courtiers followed his example, and among them the Irishman Murrough O'Brien. And soon, in Cork, sailing activities met great success, encouraged by the sovereign. Around 1720, interest in the sport had progressed so much that young William O'Brien, the 9th Inchiquin Lord, then aged 26, one of the most important personalities in the kingdom, and five of his friends formalised their activities and created "The Water Club of the Harbour of Cork". They moved into a castle, where they drafted their statutes that still govern the sport practice, membership, social events, and established a number of rules, known today as "The Old Rules"... That's what bring together the Yacht Club de Monaco and the Royal Cork Yacht Club : the respect of traditions, the desire to pass on, and the very appealing sporting and distinguished atmosphere, as evidenced by the number of members close to 2 000 !
But let's go back to History, which played a big part in the club's one. Undoubtedly, the American Revolution and the French Revolution, contributed to the Royal Navy's decision to build up their presence in the safe & strategic harbour of Cork. Kinsale, once the the main naval centre on this coast, had made way to Cork, since its insufficient draught does not allow warships there.
By 1806, the "Water Club of the Harbour of Cork" has become the "Cork Harbour Water Club". Later on, in the 1820's, it dropped “Harbour”, and, following the fashion of the few other clubs that associated the word "yacht" to their name, it dropped the word "Water". In 1831, the then "Cork Yacht Club" was granted, by King William IV, the privilege of using the prefix "Royal".
JAP born to win - William Fife Cork Harbour One Design
The Cork Harbour One Design was created by William Fife, commissioned by six local sailors, anxious to race evenly and without handicap. At the same time, NYYC members had the same approach with the Amercian naval architect Nathanael Herreshoff, and in Marseille, the founders of the Société Nautique were launching their houari, inspired by local fishing boats… this tells how much sailors from all over the world were sick of the rules puzzle, since each club or country had its own... This confused situation - with rules succeeding one another without any of them imposing itself, lasted until the international authorities finally adopted the International Rule, or Metric Rule, in 1906. Jap is a one-design by William Fife III, the most famous naval architect of his time, for the RCYC members.
The Cork Harbour One Design, a powerful 11m gaff cutter carrying a lot of sail area, was designed for a small crew of 4, with a thin hull, a long bowsprit and a transom stern. She was a day-boat without cabin, designed for regatta, but excluded any idea of cruising. Nine of these boats, of which it has been said that it "was the most powerful of the prototypes" built before the First World War, were manufactured.
The beautiful story of this elegant gaff cutter, did not stop there. Buoyed by the wave of enthusiasm for classic yachts, from the smallest to the most gigantic ones, Jap, launched in 1897, was entrusted in 2002 by an Irish owner to the Fairlie Restorations shipyard, dedicated exclusively to bringing William Fife's yachts back to life. In 2014, Jap once again validated his epithet "born to win" by winning several trophies at the Voiles de Saint-Tropez, before winning in Cowes the following year. And of course, to join the ephemeral fleet of the Monaco Classic Week.
Sir Thomas Lipton became the most famous member of the RCYC in 1900. The king of tea embarked on the America's Cup adventure, considering yachting to be an excellent way to make a name for himself in the United States. Almost a century later, Baron Marcel Bich did the exact same thing to launch his disposable pens and lighters across the Atlantic. Neither of them won the Cup, but the American market was all theirs !