A Brief History of the Royal Armoured Corps Yacht Club

Early years

The Royal Armoured Corps Yacht Club was formed in 1949 as Europe began to settle down after WWII and there was a demand for some organisation of the great deal of sailing done by RAC based at Bovington. The Club had the use of two yachts: Theodora and Alamein. The former, a famous Bristol pilot cutter that later won the first Tall Ships Race, is still in commission and is being refurbished by her current owners under her original name Kindly Light.

Sadly, Theodora proved too expensive to maintain and after a particularly stormy passage from Germany across the North Sea in August 1952 she had to be towed into Harwich, having blown out all her headsails. She was sold shortly after and Alamein went the same way three years later.

SCOD Re-awakening


With no yacht, the Club effectively became dormant until re-awakened in 1959 with the purchase of Troika (1959-1962), a South Coast One Design (SCOD), a sister yacht to the then Commodore’s, Col Sir Freddy Coates Bt, Varthan. Freddy, who was on the SCOD Association committee at the time, followed this by having a new SCOD built, Red Jerboa (1962-1966), for the Club.


All these early boats were kept at Poole, handy for their owners and sailors who were mostly stationed at Bovington.

The White Knights


Four years later came the first of the White Knights, a Rustler 31 (1966-1978). With a GRP hull, she was easier to maintain and she was successfully and enjoyably raced and cruised by many in her 12 years with the Club.  These days she is based at Poole Yacht Club and is still named White Knight. Her new owner attended the 2009 AGM as a guest of Maj "Oggie" Hoare, at which event Maj Hoare presented the Club with a framed jigsaw puzzle of White Knight sailing in Cowes Week in 1967, with a 14/20H crew and their Colonel-in-Chief, HRH Princess Anne. It is hanging in the Club room in the west wing of the Bovington Officers' Mess.


She was replaced in 1978 by White Knight II, a Contessa 32 (1978-1994). Another proven design, she had the advantage of a large class and therefore evenly matched racing. White Knights III (1994-1998) and IV (1998-2004), reflected a perception amongst a number of Club members that more of a family cruising boat was required and these were a Westerly Seahawk and Westerly 33, respectively. For the racers, the Army had a fleet of yachts. During the period 1990-1993, the RACYC had a second yacht, Amarylis (later renamed Ocean Cavalier), an Oyster 35, donated by the Royal Naval College Dartmouth.


White Knight 5 was an X332, a return to the cruiser/racer marque. She was bought in 2005 and had notable success in a number of races, including being the first Service yacht to round the Fastnet Rock in 2005 and first in the Army Offshore regatta of the same year. She was well cruised, by both family and Service crews.

White Knight 6, a Beneteau First 34.7, was bought on 2009 and was raced and cruised extensively along the south coast, including 3 Fastnet campaigns. In the 2011 Fastnet, skippered by Lt Col Paul Macro, she was pipped for the inter-Regimental Cup by the REYC on Redcoat, by a slim 1m31s.


During this period, the Club entered the RORC Caribbean 600 race on chartered boats - a nice change to be able to sail in warm water but a demanding racetrack nonetheless.


The decision was taken to move from 'cruiser-racer' to 'racer-cruiser' and she was sold in 2014. In her stead the Club bought the J109 White Knight 7 (previously named Jet as having been owned by an RAF pilot). This is the Club's current boat which has recently gone through a 'mid-life upgrade' with autohelm and heater installed, as well as a major overhaul of sails and electrics.

Full History of the RACYC 1949-1998
by John Larminie
Microsoft Word document [139.0 KB]

If any members or past members have their own recollections or photos to add to the Club history, do submit them to the Secretary. Preferably a good story but not entirely fabricated please...