Dartmouth in itself can hardly claim to be a yachting centre; nevertheless, the regattas held under the flag of the Royal Dart Yacht Club have for many years attracted the best yachts of the day to the West Country port. The club has had just over forty years of existence, having been founded in 1866.
The Dartmouth Regatta has long been looked forward to by yachtsmen as one of the most enjoyable of the whole season, and coming, as it, always does, towards its close, it has come to be regarded somewhat in the light of a holiday fixture. Nowhere around the whole coasts is a regatta held amid more beautiful surroundings than at Dartmouth. Anyone who may have made the acquaintance of Dartmouth Harbour for the first time on a regatta day will probably never forget the first impressions created. No matter how one approaches the spot, whether it be from the sea or by rail, or from which side one looks across the harbour, the scene presented is one not readily forgotten. All the vessels present ‘dress-ship’ on regatta days, and with the lofty green hills forming a background, the picture is a really remarkable one. The club-house is picturesquely situated about half a mile inside the harbour on the Kingswear side.
The big-class racing cannot be seen from the club premises, and to get a view of it from the shore a journey has to be made to the old castle at the mouth of the harbour on the Dartmouth side. Here numbers of people congregate on occasions when there are good entries. The course for the big vessels is laid from Dartmouth Range, which is about a mile outside the harbour, round the Skerries Buoy, and then round a mark, which is put out for the day, to the eastward. Here in 1878 the old Arrow was credited with one of her finest performances, when she gave the Vol-au-Vent a bad beating.
The Commodoreship of the club was held for many years by Mr. H. Studdy, whose recollections of yachting went back to the comparatively early days of the sport. He is stated to have sailed the first boat in the Solent that had lead outside. The present Commodore is the Duke of Somerset, and the ‘Vice’ is Earl Rothes, a grandson of the former Commodore, and an enthusiastic yachtsman.