Merging of the clubs: the history of the RPNYC burgee

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This article first appeared in the October 2015 issue of the Journal of the Wellington Classic Yacht Trust. Our thanks to Gavin Pascoe and the Trust for allowing us to republish it. Please consider becoming a member of the Trust or making a donation to help keep Lizzie, Atalanta and Mystery on the water. We are currently taking taking orders for burgees, order soon to be sure that you don’t miss out!

burgee dominion article

The merger of the Port Nicholson Yacht Club (PNYC), Te Ruru Yacht Club (TRYC) and the Te Aro Sailing Club (TASC) was not without its wrangling. The PNYC wished for the merged club to retain its name, arguing that any change would result in the loss of the right to fly the blue ensign (they possibly had a weather eye on their depleted fleet and the required 100 combined tonnage rule required to maintain that right). Te Ruru’s main concern, as the “coming thing” was not to be seen as a junior partner.

As for the Te Aro Sailing Club, their main concern was the future of the inter-club cup, for which they had competed against the Heretaunga Boating Club on an annual basis since 1910, taking it over from the Thorndon Dinghy Club which dissolved that year. TASC were the current holders, and required that Heretaunga allow the competition to continue for the future. The Heretaunga club agreed, and the trophy remained hotly contested for decades.

Some wanted a new club name, new burgee, or at least one incorporating elements of each club. This last option was accepted by the two junior clubs. TRYC was further placated by PNYC’s offer that the officers of the TRYC become the officers of the amalgamated club until at least the next AGM, and to take over the finances. William Waddilove, commodore of the TRYC, flatly did not want to merge. He resigned, with the result that the vice commodore of TRYC Harry Hardham (later owner of the Rona and founding editor of Sea Spray magazine), became the first commodore of the amalgamated club.

temp burgeeOnce terms were agreed, a burgee design was accepted by the committee, and a set was made up. I’ve not seen it described anywhere, or seen a clear photo, but it appears this burgee looked something like the below. There are a lot of photos of yachts (e.g. Ailsa, Marangi, Kotiri II, Viola, Waitangi, Iolanthe, Trixie, Miru, Wairere I, Rawene, Venus) wearing something like this in photos ca. 1915-1920, and it’s the only thing I can think that it might be. The burgee the club has today was approved in 1920, the crown added when the Royal warrant was granted in 1921.

A machine-generated colourisation of a photo of Miru with the “interim” burgee of the combined clubs

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