Yacht club celebrates return voyage: Royal Corinthian has gone back to its spiritual home on the Solent. Stuart Alexander reports

 

A regimental band will be playing, the flags flying and the commodore will be in his forecastle this afternoon in Cowes when the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club re-hoists its ensign and burgee.

After nearly five years of disruption, displacement and woe, members old and new will be returning to Castle Rock, the club's home with its commanding view over the Solent.

The celebrations would gladden the heart of the house's former owner. Rosa Lewis, the mistress of Edward VII, was ever ready to cock a snook at the establishment members of the Royal Yacht Squadron at the bottom of her garden. The building became the club's home in 1948.

Then in autumn 1988 the club's membership was left stunned on being told that their home had been sold to commercial interests.

An angry meeting, which also attracted members of the original and affiliated Royal Corinthian, at Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, was held at London's Great Eastern Hotel.

The mood was defiant. Whatever else, they would not see handed over their royal warrant and with it the right to fly a defaced blue rather than standard red ensign on their yachts.

'We don't want people who wear grey shoes in here,' one member said, who could not accept that merely being able to pay the subscription was sufficient to be a member.

Barely three years later, the company which had bought Castle Rock was in liquidation, but not the Royal Corinthian.

Now four members, led by the club's admiral, Pat Dyas, have bought the building back from the receivers.

Princess Anne, who is also president of the Royal Yachting Association, is the new patron.

Applications to join are pouring in and more have been enrolled than before, at pounds 150 a year for non-island residents plus a joining fee of pounds 50. Tickets at pounds 50 each for a ball tonight have long been sold out.

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