The Royal Western Yacht Club of England was in its early days one branch of a club, the other division of which was situate in Ireland; or, perhaps, to be more accurate, we should say that there were two clubs which, after brief separate existences, were united under the name of the Royal Western Yacht Club. The Irish division, hailing from the Shannon, was senior to the Plymouth club, having been founded in 1830, and being honoured with royal patronage two years later, at which period it received authority under an Admiralty warrant to fly the white ensign. It is interesting to note that in those days the privilege of flying the ‘white’ was not so jealously guarded as at the present time, when, as the service flag of the Royal Navy, it is only flown by ships of the Royal Navy, and, as a special privilege, by yachts belonging to the Royal Yacht Squadron.
The Plymouth club was formed in 1833. Prior to that date there had been regattas in the Sound under the auspices of the Port of Plymouth Royal Clarence Regatta Club. With more attention being devoted to yachting, as distinct from other aquatic sports, it was thought desirable to have an organization in the port more particularly devoted to the interests of sailing. At a meeting held on November 7, 1833, with the Right Hon. the Earl of Morley in the chair, the Regatta Society was formally dissolved, and the Western Yacht Club was formed to take its place. In 1834 the Irish and Plymouth clubs amalgamated, and quarters were secured at the Royal Hotel, adjoining the Theatre Royal, at Plymouth. Two years later there were 127 yachts on the list of the combined clubs. For those days, that was regarded as an imposing number of vessels to be on the strength of any one club ; for, be it remembered, at the time referred to there were only five other yacht clubs in the British Isles. The sport, in an organized form, was only in its infancy.
The Royal Western, from the time of its inception, was evidently not intended to be merely a local organization, for soon after its formation we notice that there was an honorary secretary in London as well as the one in Plymouth. After about ten years of joint existence, the two divisions separated, the Plymouth retaining the name by which we know it to-day, whilst the Irish branch took the name of the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland.
The Plymouth club has always been regarded as the premier club of the West Country. It has a strong list of members, and its annual regatta during the Plymouth Week every year is one of the principal events of the season. In years when the Plymouth Week comes after the regattas at Dartmouth, the Royal Western usually gives a race for yachts from Dartmouth to Plymouth on the Monday preceding their own fixture in the Sound.