It is doubtful if any club offers a more interesting or instructive example of what can be done by careful management than the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club. Formed by a small body of enthusiasts at Erith in 1872, for the encouragement of amateur sailing, it at once jumped into popularity.
In the early days of the club the headquarters were at the Pier Hotel, the Hon. Secretary being Mr. W. M. Dowdall, one of the best helmsmen of the day, while Mr. Frank Willan, the well-known veteran oarsman, was Commodore. In 1877, an opportunity occurring of securing an eligible site on the river-bank at Erith, the members built the club-house which has since been so well known to everyone on the river.
Several of the best known and most practical yachtsmen have graduated in the ranks of this club, and the races of the old 10-tonners, the 3-tonners, and the 21-foot class, which always provided good entries and sport, being sailed with amateur crews, will be remembered for years. At the present time the club is particularly strong in amateur talent, and could probably turn out as many good crews as any club in the kingdom.
Towards 1890 the increasing traffic on the Thames began to interfere with the racing, and year by year it became more difficult, in consequence, to attract yachts up the river. Burnham was then adopted as a suitable place for a branch of the club, a selection amply justified by results.
In 1898 the club abandoned Erith altogether and fixed upon Port Victoria as headquarters, building quite a model club-house there, and still retaining Burnham as a branch. With its good anchorage, proximity to the open sea, and the extremely moderate railway fare for members of the club, Port Victoria offers advantages that are being gradually but steadily appreciated. During the season, in addition to the ordinary races, handicap races take place from Burnham to Port Victoria, and vice versa, also Port Victoria to Harwich and Ramsgate, and these port-to-port races are always popular.