One of Amigos that competed in all the Twilights last season

Contrary to its name, the Royal Motor Yacht Club, based in Poole Harbour, has a long and distinguished history in organising sailing events. This began in the early 1920s with the establishment of the X One Design RMYC Sailing Yacht Class and the throwing open of the class to individual ownership which, by 1924, led to 10 XOD’s being raced regularly by its members.

In 1960 the club was involved in the formation of the Poole Bay Olympic Sailing Association and jointly hosted the first Olympic sailing events in June 1961, as well as many other regattas to follow. They were heady days for the RMYC as the club found itself at the heart of the preparations for the Olympic yachting, but it was not to last as in 1973 plans were advanced for the opening of an Olympic Centre in Weymouth removing it from Poole.

One summer’s evening that year the Vice-Commodore and Sailing Chairman decided that something had to be done to replace the Olympic sailing as a result of which, the following year, the club pioneered the first evening race series for cruisers in the half-ton and quarter-ton classes. They provided the only opportunity for level-rating cruiser racing during mid-week and it became very popular in Poole.

The evening race series has continued until this day and has been expanded to include other fixed keel boats including Shrimpers, J24s, and Flying Fifteens. The Cruiser classes have now been replaced by Class 1 and Class 2 yachts racing under IRC and VPRS from the Club line inside the harbour opposite Brownsea Castle out through the entrance into Poole Bay where excellent conditions are normally found for some exciting racing. In Class 2 last year more than 12 boats lined up on the start line each week and competed throughout the summer months.

The number of boats in Class 1 has declined over the years with only five boats competing last year despite an increase in the number of bigger boats being launched. So, the club needed to come up with an idea for attracting more owners to join the Twilight Races to keep the spirit of racing in Poole Bay alive on Thursday nights as the sun sets over Old Harry.

Comparisons were made with the Twilight racing organised by the CYC in Sydney Harbour which regularly attracts more than 30 entries each week ranging from day sailing yachts to super-maxis. Although Poole does not have the same depth, it does have one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world and easy access to a magnificent bay. One of the secrets to their success was being able to secure a major sponsor to fund weekly prizes distributed each week based on a sliding handicap basis.

Whilst everyone wants to have fun the competitive nature of racing means that other ways have to be found to give crews a fair chance to share in the prizes. It was for that reason the RMYC has decided to introduce this idea to its Twilight Series this year for Class 1 and 2 as an experiment to attract more entries. The Notice of Race provides that in parallel to the normal Twilight Series weekly prizes will be awarded for the winners of Class 1 and 2 on an adjusted handicap basis and that the handicaps will be adjusted each week by increasing the rating of the winning boat by five per cent. Sponsors have been secured to donate two prizes each week ranging from a free bottom-wash to a week’s supply of bread.

It is hoped that more individual entries will be encouraged to try their luck and anyone with a Yacht who is capable of sailing on Thursday evenings during the summer months starting on 25 April are invited to join in the fun.

For further details please visit the RMYC website ( or contact the Chairman of Sail at

Author: Peter Wintle

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