The Republic of Singapore Yacht Club

Singapore Infopedia


The Republic of Singapore Yacht Club (RSYC) is a maritime recreational society and club for yachting enthusiasts. Established in 1826 as the Singapore Yacht Club, it is Singapore’s oldest club and apparently the first yacht club in Asia.1 It was known as the Royal Singapore Yacht Club from 1924 until 1967, when it changed its name to the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club to reflect the country’s independence two years earlier.2

The Singapore Yacht Club (SYC) was founded on 7 February 1826, with William Montgomerie as the first president.The first regatta in Singapore was held on New Year’s Day of 1834.4

Notable club members include Dato Mohamed Ibrahim (son of Munshi Abdullah), Commodore Joaquim Parsick Joaquim (whose sister discovered the Vanda Miss Joaquim natural hybrid orchid), and Sir Thomas de Multon Braddell.5

Nonetheless, interest in yachting declined, and in the 1890s, the SYC committee proposed a resolution at a special general meeting to dissolve the club.6 In 1893, the club was disbanded, and the treasurer gave the club’s remaining funds to Singapore Rowing Club. SYC members became life members of the Singapore Rowing Club by October 1897.7

After WWI, 32 men met at the Singapore Cricket Club on 1 July 1919 and decided to revive the Singapore Yacht Club. The members elected a committee of 11 and got organised quickly, registering the club with the Protector of Chinese by the end of August.8 In 1920, the clubhouse was set up at Trafalgar Street and opened by Sir Laurence Guillemard, who was then the governor of the Straits Settlements.9 He also served as the club’s commodore from 1922 to 1927.10

In 1922, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) became the club’s first patron, and it changed its name to the Royal Singapore Yacht Club in 1924.11

Apart from the Prince of Wales, other prominent patrons of the club were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. Singapore’s first president, Yusof bin Ishak, was the first Singaporean patron of the club in 1967, and the name of the club was subsequently changed to reflect the shift in patronage and independence of the country.12 Late former presidents Ong Teng Cheong and S. R. Nathan were also the club’s patrons during their respective tenures.13

After independence, the club had to relinquish its Trafalgar Street premises to the Singapore Harbour Board to make way for a container terminal. The club was given six months’ notice in June 1964 to vacate the premises. The British Army’s yacht club also needed a new home at the time. By making an exchange deal to leave British equipment on Blakang Mati (Sentosa), Brigadier R. F. B. Hensman obtained five acres of mangrove swamp along Tanjong Penjuru to build a new clubhouse shared by both clubs.14 Then President and club patron Yusof bin Ishak officially opened the new clubhouse on 8 October 1966.15

In the 1980s, RSYC’s moorings had to be constantly moved to accommodate land developments around the club, making it difficult for members to access sailing facilities. As a result, members left the club for the new Changi Sailing Club and Raffles Marina. Only eight keelboats remained at RSYC by 1995.16

On 28 August 1999, the RSYC relocated for the third time, to its current premises at 52 West Coast Ferry Road.17 The club was officially opened by then President and club patron Ong Teng Cheong a year later on 17 June 2000, also its 174th anniversary celebrations. The clubhouse was designed by Edward Wong of Alfred Wong Partnership Pte Ltd, with state-of-the-art boating facilities and spaces for food, leisure, entertainment and accommodation.18 In July 2001, the building received the Architectural Design Award in the recreational building category from the Singapore Institute of Architects.19

To commemorate the long history of the RSYC, the National Heritage Board installed a plaque in the club’s premises on 17 June 2000 to mark the club as a historic site.20

The RSYC organises recreational activities and sailing lessons for its members, in addition to recreational and competitive water sports events.21 In 1923, famed yachting enthusiast and renowned tea merchant, Sir Thomas Lipton, donated the Lipton Challenge Cup to the RSYC. The Lipton Cup is now on display at the Singapore Sports Museum.22

The most notable event is the annual RSYC Regatta, the longest-running regatta held in Singapore and traces its origins as far back as the early 1920s. Apart from traditional race formats, the regatta has also added the Round-the-Island Challenge and Passage Race to Tioman to its competition line-up.23

Bhaskaran Kunju and Kevin Seet

1. “About RSYC,” Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, accessed 2 May 2023; Peter Dunlop, Three Burgees: A History of the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club (Singapore: Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, 2010), 13. (Call no. RSING 797.12460605957 DUN)
2. “History,” Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, accessed 2 May 2023.
3. Dunlop, Three Burgees, 25; “Singapore, Thursday Feb. 15th 1827,” Singapore Chronicle, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Charles Burton BuckleyAn Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), 235 (Call no. RSING 959.57 BUC-HIS]); “Regatta”, Singapore Chronicle and Commercial Register, 2 January 1834, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Dunlop, Three Burgees41–42.
6. Dunlop, Three Burgees43.
7. Dunlop, Three Burgees49–51.
8. Dunlop, Three Burgees79.
9. K. C. Yuen, “W. Maxwell Blake: Commodore of SYC in 1919,” RSYC Magazine (September–October 2008): 23. (Call no. RSING 797.12405 RSYC)
10. “Commodore,” Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, 26 June 2016.
11. Dunlop, Three Burgees39, 80; “Trophy & NHB Plaque,” Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, accessed 2 May 2023.
12. Dunlop, Three Burgees156; Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, “Trophy & NHB Plaque.”
13. Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, “History”; Milestones,” Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, accessed 3 May 2023.
14. Jack Snowden, “Brief History of RSYC,” RSYC Magazine (November–December 2008), 23. (Call no. RSING 797.12405 RSYC); Dunlop, Three Burgees141–45.
15. Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, “History”; Dunlop, Three Burgees148; “Inche Yusof visits the Yacht Club,” Straits Times, 10 October 1966, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Dunlop, Three Burgees164–65.
17. Dunlop, Three Burgees166–75.
18. “The Republic of Singapore Yacht Club Sails into the Future with an Ultra Modern Marina & Club House,” Business Times, 15 February 1996, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “RSYC wins Architectural Award,” RSYC Magazine (September-October 2001), 9. (Call no. RSING 797.12405 RSYC); Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, “History.” 
20. Dunlop, Three Burgees183, 213; Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, “Trophy & NHB Plaque.”
21. “Our Events,” Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, accessed 8 November 2023; “Sailing Courses,” Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, accessed 8 November 2023.
22. Erik Holmberg, “Sir Thomas Lipton’s Gift to the RSYC,” RSYC Magazine (January–February 2001), 15. (Call no. RSING 797.12405 RSYC); Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, “Trophy & NHB Plaque.”
23. “RSYC Regatta 2009,” RSYC Magazine (September–October 2009), 8. (Call no. RSING 797.12405 RSYC)

The information in this article is valid as of September 2023 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.



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