A reference to the early records of different yacht clubs brings to light the fact that, in days gone by, sailing became a recognised pastime in various districts long before the sport in any particular port bore any relation to, or was influenced in any degree by, the form in which it was pursued in other localities. It is likewise interesting to note that many of the prominent clubs of to-day are by no means the oldest organizations associated with the sport. There are some whose history dates back to the early part of last century, but which at the present day bear but a very small share in the ordinary season’s racing, such as we now understand the season; that is, regattas at which the most important racing yachts enter and race regularly.
The Royal Dee is one of these clubs. It traces its descent from an association of yachtsmen formed at Chester as far back as 1815, so that, taking that as its origin, it is practically of the same age as the Royal Yacht Squadron. For many years after the formation of this club, yachting did not attract much notice outside those actively interested in it. Consequently, we have no very complete records to enlighten us in regard to the doings of clubs in those days. The men who formed that club at Chester in 1815 are fully entitled to rank amongst the pioneers of the sport, for they were not following the lead of any established fashion, but rather helping in the creation of a new pastime. Yachting as an organized sport had had no previous existence in England, and it is an interesting concidence that the idea of forming clubs should have taken shape at the same time both on the Solent and on the Dee. In those early days the craft that did duty for yachts were practically identical in type with the vessels in vogue in the district in which the yachtsman happened to reside and pursue his pastime, and they were usually of local build.
In later years, when racing became more regularly recognised, an interchange of courtesies between the Kingstown clubs and those on this side of the Irish Channel was commenced, and down to the present day this club joins with the Royal Alfred in holding a regatta at Holyhead, whither the Irish club brings its yachts in a cross-channel race. Notwithstanding the comparative antiquity of the club, there are many senior to it in regard to the privilege of the ‘Royal’ prefix. The Admiralty granted a warrant to it on November 19, 1847, though shortly before that date Queen Victoria had accorded her patronage to the club. During many of its earlier years the club held its regattas at Hilbre Island.