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Early in 1876 a meeting was held at Thompson’s Boathouse in King Street, Norwich. As a result the Yare Sailing Club was formed, intended to cater for the more amateur sailors on the Broads, who sailed their own boats without the benefit of paid hands and some of whom were ordinary working men. Membership was set at five shillings, considerably less than the guinea demanded by the Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, which aimed at the wealthier members of society. The newly formed club prospered and by 1897 it was claiming to be the largest sailing club in the world, with nearly 600 members.
Racing was held around the Broads, the largest event being at Acle, with boats moored for a mile and more on both sides of the river, but regattas were also held at Cantley, Buckenham, Oulton and Breydon, the latter in particular attracting great crowds of spectators. The club had a strong social side too, with members’ wives and families being encouraged to join in picnics.
In 1907 the YSC lost its identity as such when it became the Yare & Bure Sailing Club. This in turn amalgamated with other clubs, principally the Horning Town Sailing Club, to become the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club when this was formed in 1937 to purchase the lease of Wroxham Broad. The only remaining trace of the original YSC lies in a handful of surviving trophies, at least one of which is still raced for at Wroxham.
In 1985 an article by Mark Wells appeared in the Spring issue of the River Cruiser Class magazine, suggesting that the Yare Sailing Club should be reformed to hold a championship series of races on the River Yare at Langley. 19 people met on 12th April in Norwich and did just that. The summer edition of the RCC magazine records that within weeks of the launch there were 50 paid up members, representing ownership of some 30 yachts. In a link with the original club, the last Commodore of that, Gerald Sambrooke-Sturgess, was invited to become president of the new club.
The first race on May 19th attracted 8 boats, including Storm in her first ever competition, Cuckoo, Madie, Vacuna and Sun Glory. The Cuckoo Trophy was eventually taken by Madie with Cuckoo and Vacuna in 2nd and 3rd places. The first year’s programme consisted only of races, but the following year saw the introduction of some cruising weekends and the Bramerton Water Frolic. By 1987 Reedham Regatta had slotted into its familiar June weekend and there was even a so called winter series – consisting of one race, the now well established Turkey Race.
Breydon Regatta was reinstated in 1991 and for a number of years attracted large fleets of thirty and more boats. The Breydon Barometer, one of the original club’s trophies, is raced for at this event, having been offered to the club by Sotherby’s. In 2003 a second barometer was discovered in an antique dealer’s shop in Ireland and, following an appeal to members, was also bought by the club. This was named the Luna Barometer and is now raced for as an open trophy over a six event series on the River Yare.
Eventually there was a move away from weekly Sunday races and towards grouping three races together over a weekend. Following an affiliation with Buckenham Sailing Club, many races were run from there, but nowadays Cantley is the more favoured location. Weekend cruising events have become established and latterly there is more of an emphasis on social occasions that non-sailors are equally welcome at.
By 1997 the club had its own website, which is increasingly used to disseminate information to members both before and after events. In May 2009 membership stood at 90 subscriptions, representing 45 cruiser class yachts. In June 2010 the reformed Yare Sailing Club celebrated its 25th anniversary with a water frolic , held at Surlingham Ferry over a gloriously hot and sunny weekend. Great fun was had by all, with the greasy pole and the cross-dressing beauty parade being particularly popular.
The club continued to innovate as it entered its second quarter century, with the introduction of a pursuit race at the Autumn Regatta, the invention of the "raffola" (a cross between a raffle and tombola), occasional treasure hunts and a successful regatta on Lake Lothing to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, organised for us by the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club. A new trophy, the Diamond Jubilee Trophy was inaugurated here, followed by the introduction of the Jenner Trophy for a youth race in 2017 and the Secretary's Salver at the first Waveney Weekend in 2019. A photographic competition was also introduced in 2009.
30 years were marked with a Great Gatsby weekend at Surlingham Ferry in 2015 and the club continues to hold both racing and social events at public houses on the River Yare (in the absence of its own clubhouse) with the Reedcutter at Cantley acting as an unofficial base, housing the club dory in a shed erected by members in 2012. The closure of the Berney Arms PH prompted the club to purchase a marquee in 2017, which has been used as a base for Breydon Regatta since then, complete with its own bar. A hark back to the original days of the club!