The Most Exclusive Yacht Clubs in the World

Leah Bourne
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The Most Exclusive Yacht Clubs in the World
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Sure, having a yacht is important. But equally important is belonging to the right yacht club. And belonging to the right club isn’t always easy. At the Yacht Club de Monaco, for instance, you must first be approved of by H.S.H. Prince Albert II to be granted membership. At the New York Yacht Club, you have be considered worthy of being listed among past members including Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Scroll through our gallery above to see the most exclusive yacht clubs in the world—from Geneva to San Francisco.

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New York Yacht Club in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island

History: The club was founded in 1844 with headquarters in New York City and the club expanded to Newport in 1988. In 1865, when the club was incorporated it adopted the motto: "Nos agimur tumidis veils"—"We go with swelling sails." The gorgeous Newport clubhouse was the former summer home of Commodore John Nicholas Brown. It remains one of the most difficult clubs to get into in the US.

Members: Notable members have included Walter Cronkite, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vincent Astor, and Ted Turner.

For more information visit nyyc.org.

Yacht Club de Monaco in Monte Carlo, Monaco

History: Located at Port Hercules, the Yacht Club de Monaco, founded by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1953, is possibly the hardest club to get into in the world. First you must be introduced by two sponsors, both of them society members of the YCM. Next you need to fill out an admission form signed by the sponsors and the applicant, accompanied by a letter of introduction from the proposer, explaining the motives. Twice a year, HSH Prince Albert II, the President of the YCM, convenes a meeting to examine applications. In other words, royalty determines your fate.

Members: There are over 900 members from over 44 countries. Monaco's royalty are, of course, front and center.

For more information visit yacht-club-monaco.mc

Royal Yacht Squadron on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom

History: This yacht club's clubhouse is Cowes Castle on the Isle of Wight. Member yachts are given the Suffix RYS to their names, and permitted to fly the White Ensign of the Royal Navy rather than the merchant Red Ensign flown by the majority of other registered boats in the UK. The club's patron is Queen Elizabeth II and the club’s admiral is Prince Philip. In other words, exclusive doesn't even begin to describe this club.

Members: Notable members have included David Clementi, Daid Poole, and Aga Khan IV.

For more information visit rys.org.uk

Corinthian Yacht Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

History: The club was founded in 1892, and is one of the oldest continually operated clubs in the US. The gorgeous clubhouse includes an extensive collection of maritime artifacts, artwork, and half models which are owned and maintained by the Corinthian Historical Foundation.

Members: Among the club's early members were Jay Gould, A. Atwater Kent, and Fitz Eugene Dixon.

For more information visit corinthianyachtclub.com.

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in Hong Kong

History: The first meeting of this club took place in 1849, but the club didn't get its formal name until 1894. The clubhouse is based on Kellett Island in Causeway Bay and the most famous race at the club is the Rolex China Sea Race.

Members: Early members were British only with military personnel on the board. Today, membership is open to all, though naturally there is a lengthy wait list. 

For more information visit rhkyc.org.hk.

Royal Thames Yacht Club in London, United Kingdom

History: The Royal Thames is the oldest sailing club in the United Kingdom. The club was first formed in 1775. Members of the club initially met in coffee houses and the club owned various properties in London from 1857 moving into its present location at 60 Knightsbridge in 1923.

Members: Traditionally the Commodore of the club has been a member of the royal family and today Club's Commodore is HRH Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. The Patron of the Club is the HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and the Admiral is HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

For more information visit royalthames.com

Société Nautique de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland

History: Founded in 1872, the club held the America's Cup from 2003 until 2010, staging one successful defense in 2007 with its Alinghi syndicate.

Members: The SNG is now the biggest Swiss yacht club with more than 3,000 members and its private port, located close to the famous Geneva fountain, has more than 600 moorings.

For more information visit nautique.org

St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, California

History: This club was founded in 1927 when the members of the San Francisco Yacht Club (the oldest sailing club in the western United States) decided to move their clubhouse out of San Francisco to Belvedere, California. About half of the membership of the San Francisco Yacht Club declined to make the move and instead formed the St. Francis. Now the club is generally considered to be the most prestigious yacht club in the western US and membership in the club is by invitation only. The Mediterranean Revival-style clubhouse is in close proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoys views from the Bridge to Alcatraz Island and beyond.

Members: Notable past members include Roy Disney, early oil baron John Barneson, and modernist architect Clerence W. W. Mayhew. 

For more information visit stfyc.com

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Sydney, Australia

History: Host of the famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the club was founded in 1944 by cruising enthusiasts who met on a regular basis to discuss nautical matters and to organize short races along the New South Wales coastline.

Members: Today, the club boasts over 2,500 members, and is the most prestigious yacht club in Australia.

For more information visit cyca.com.au

Yacht Club Argentino in Buenos Aires, Argentina

History: Founded in 1883, today the YCA is not only the best sailing club in Argentina, it also regularly sends its delegates to symposiums of the Offshore Racing Council to make rulings on yacht racing in South America.

Members: With more than 3,300 members and a total fleet of 38 yachts, the club owns learning boats, sailboats to race the various regattas, and dinghies to monitor the races.

For more information visit yca.org.ar

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