The above image is a rendering of Yacht Club de Monaco’s new ocean liner-inspired clubhouse which will open in 2012 | image courtesy of Yacht Club de Monaco
At the turn of the 20th century, Monaco was the venue for some of the earliest motor boat trials. It was natural that Prince Rainier, whose influence is still remembered in the principality, and whose ancestor, François Grimaldi, known as ‘the Spiteful’, captured the Rock from the Genoese in 1297, should have been a seafarer first as well as a prince. In 1956 he collected his bride Grace Kelly by yacht from the deck of the USS Constitution, aboard which she had travelled from America, and it was on the same yacht, Deo Juvante II, the first of many, that he and the new Princess Grace spent their honeymoon cruising the Mediterranean.
The rooftop of the new yacht club | image courtesy of Yacht Club de Monaco
Prince Rainier had founded the club three years before out of the old Société des Régates with the aim of promoting yachting within the principality. In 1984 Prince Albert became its president and today the harbour is a seasonal focus of the international superyacht fleet, the clubhouse, bar and restaurants offering a magnificent view over the comings and goings far below in Port Hercule.
Membership numbers an exclusive 800, drawn from 44 nationalities, the club twinned with others in Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden: the Real Club Náutico of Barcelona (Spain, 1995), the Yacht Club Italiano (Italy, 1996), the Société Nautique de Genève (Switzerland, 1996), Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Italy, 1998) and the Kungl Svenska Segel Sällskapet (Sweden, 2004).
Although a social venue par excellence – to see and be seen (or rather to remain discreetly out of sight) – and with a new transatlantic liner-themed clubhouse on stream for 2012, racing will always occupy a major role in the club’s activities, the Primo Cup in February being the season’s opener.
Harbour view | photo by Pierre Pettavino/courtesy of Yacht Club de Monaco
Youth sailing is also vital, Prince Rainier having founded the YCM Sailing School in 1970 for young people from six to 20 in Optimists, Lasers and Picos. The club also has a fleet of one-designs, the Smeralda 888, designed by German Frers, a four-person keelboat, with an established racing circuit of events in Saint-Tropez, Porto Cervo and Corsica, in which 12 of the 17 boats are club owned.
In 1995 the club bought the Fife 15 Metre Tuiga, built in 1909, and had her restored to immaculate condition. She is a regular competitor in classic events from the Clyde to the Mediterranean, crewed by club members. As official ISAF representative for classic yachting, the club organises the biennial Monaco Classic Week and Prada Challenge for Classic Yachts.
“Although a social venue par excellence, racing will always occupy a major role in the club’s activities”