Learn About RQYS’s History
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron was ‘born’ in 1885 when a group of gentlemen interested in water sports formed the Brisbane Sailing Club. Sailing quickly became the prominent sport of the new entity and within a few years competition with the sailors from Sydney had commenced with the inaugural inter-colonial sailing race in 22 Footers.
By 1894, the restriction of ‘Brisbane’ was adjusted and the club took the title of Queensland Yacht Club. In that year also the Admiralty granted members permission to fly the Blue Ensign of Her Majesty’s Fleet. In 1902 His Majesty, King Edward VII, bestowed the title ‘Royal’ on the club and, in 1961, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, approved a change of name to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.
The final step came in 1991, when the club was registered as an incorporated company and became the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron Limited.
The early 22 foot sailing vessels gave way to the Raters in 1909, which in turn were superseded by the 21 Foot Restricted class which saw the start of true interstate competition. Dinghy racing really developed in the late 1940s and 1950s when the club was sailing from premises on the Brisbane River at Bulimba. Fleets of 30 and upwards in a class were common, and many fine yachtsmen grew out of competition in Trainees, 12 Square Metre boats, Gwens, Wrights, Finns, Sabots and Flying Dutchmen.
The club occupied various premises in and near the centre of Brisbane prior to moving to Manly for both clubhouse and sporting activities in 1964. The marina was constructed, commencing in the early 1980s, and the premises at Manly were freeholded in 1994.
This expansion and upgrading of facilities has been mirrored in our sporting achievements, with Olympic gold medals, world and national championships, participation in America’s Cups, Admiral’s Cups and offshore, many fine performances in blue water events.
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron is proud of its enviable record of having been represented in every Australian Olympic team – either as competitor, coach or team manager – since the Melbourne Games of 1956.
Ron Jenyns was the Squadron’s first competing Olympian in the Finn class at the Rome Games of 1960 and 12 years later (in Munich) came the club’s first gold medal as John Cuneo, Thomas Anderson and John Shaw beat East Germany and the United States into the minor placings in the Dragon class. The trio have held their crown for more than 40 years, because that was the last time that particular one-design keelboat class was sailed at the Games!
Then, in 2012, John Cuneo was back in the RQ Bar – as were a few hundred other sailing enthusiasts – to see member Mathew Belcher and honorary member Malcolm Page win gold in the 470 class at the London Olympics.
With RQYS members reaching the very pinnacle of the sport, our founders would be justly proud of just how far their club has come.