When it comes to exclusivity, few institutions come close to matching the prestige of the yacht club. It can take years to get on the waiting list for some of the most exclusive yacht clubs on this list. Simply owning a yacht is only a small part of the yachting lifestyle, however; partaking in the vibrant culture of the club community is what the sport is all about. Here are some of the most prestigious yacht clubs from around the globe.
New York Yacht Club, New York, United States
The combined efforts of nine sportsmen resulted in the creation of the New York Yacht Club in 1844, one of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the United States. Centuries later, the NYYC’s primary clubhouse in midtown Manhattan has come to represent a quintessential New York landmark. Being a member of this club means belonging to one of the most exclusive yacht clubs in the world. Aside from being nominated by an existing member, a candidate must be able to prove a significant achievement in the sport. Notable members include J.P. Morgan and Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Royal Yacht Squadron, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
No list of exclusive yacht clubs would be complete without a mention of the Royal Yacht Squadron. With a rich history that dates back to the year 1815 as well as a castle for a clubhouse, the RYS is one of the oldest and grandest yacht clubs in history. It’s impossible to buy a membership; you must be voted in by a current member and approved by secret ballot. Prior to 2013, only men were allowed to be members—a restriction so exclusive that the Queen was once denied entry.
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Hong Kong, China
Home to the Rolex China Sea Race, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club had its first meeting in 1849. It boasts a total of three clubhouses, and members have access to some of the most expansive views of the Hong Kong skyline. Facilities accompanying membership are many, and include everything from a bowling alley to book and video library. Club membership fees vary according to category, but a standard individual membership costs $1,850,000 HKD (about $238,500 USD). Membership is open to the public when there are vacancies, but applicants with extensive sailing or rowing experience are considered first.
Yacht Club de Monaco, Monaco, French Riviera
Monaco didn’t earn its nickname “Capital of Yachting” for nothing. As much as it’s a favorite port destination for yachters around the world, the Yacht Club de Monaco is highly difficult to join so it lands a well deserved place on our list of most prestigious yacht clubs. Founded by Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1953, it remains one of the most exclusive yacht clubs in the world, with the application process requiring multiple sponsorships.
Aside from breathtaking views from the heart of the harbor, facilities include a rowing club and sailing school as well as an observation deck, a pool, guest cabins and a fitness center. Preserving tradition is a serious part of the YCM’s philosophy: the club maintains a strict dress code and naval code of etiquette, and requires active participation in the social calendar.
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Sydney, Australia
The youngest to make the list, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia began in 1944 and has since become the top yacht club in Australia. The club’s race schedule includes the illustrious Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Its 2,700 members enjoy full use of the stunningly picturesque Rushcutters Bay clubhouse (home to the Sydney Hobart Bar) as well as plenty of races, prize givings and social events.
Though there are many yacht clubs worldwide, each with varying degrees of difficulty in terms of accessibility, one thing remains certain. Belonging to the right yacht club ensures that you receive the full yachting experience, with all of the honor and tradition that comes with the sport.