boatThe Possibilities of sailing on the Nainital lake were envisaged by 'Pilgrim' Peter barron who is believed to be the discoverer of Nainital almost 150 years ago. In his book”Wanderings in the Himmala” he writes about how he came to the lake in November1842. He set out with two friends and a party of porters in September from Mussoorie” prepared for a journey of three months in the snowy range from near Gungootree to the Nepal frontier” and during the course of his journey of discovery came to Nainital. The “discovery of a lake in the vicinity of Almora" was reported in the “Calcutta Englishman of 31st December 1842.” Pilgrim writes “the lake is situated on the range of mountains overhanging the plains,called the Gagur and is distant about 35 miles from Almora. Its height above the level of the sea is 6200 feet. It is slightly curved in shape, about 1.1/4 to 1.1/2 miles in length and its greatest breadth about three quarters of a mile. The measurement or rather calculation of distances, by the eye is highly deceptive in mountain scenery. The water is as clear as crystal, a beautiful little stream supplied from the springs of the over-topping mountains,is continually running into it and a smaller one is flowing out of it at the opposite extremity. The depth must be tremendous,as the banks below the waters level shelve down almost percipitious mountain side, around the lake.”He goes on the write”on the undulating ground between the highest peak and the margin of the lake, there are capabilities for a race course, cricket ground and building sites in every direction,sufficient for a large town. Beautiful roads, for riding and driving might be easily constructed for the entire circumference of the lake, and thousands of pleasure boats might be kept constantly skimming on its surface” He further writes” the name of the lake is Nainee Tal. Abundance of wood, of the finest water, of level ground and other requisites for building to any extent, capabilities for miles of beautiful roads for riding and driving with a magnificient sheet of water for both ornament and for use, where the manly exercise of rowing and sailing might be indulged in….” The vision of P.Barron was realized and this year we are celebrating the "centenary of Sailing on the Naini-Tal Lake"

The history of yachting dates back to the reign of the British queen Elizabeth when in 1588 a pleasure ship was built for her at Cowes. The association of the place with sport thus goes back to 300 years. In 1660 Charles II was presented by the Dutch with a yacht named the ‘Mary’until which the word ‘yacht’was unknown in England.Yacht is derived from the Dutch words (jagt,jagen) which means to hunt. The Merrie monarch was so fond of sailing, that he designed a yacht of 25 tons called the ‘Jamie’ built at Lambeth in 1662,as well as several others later on. In that year the ‘Jamie’was matched for $100 against a small Dutch yacht, under the Duke of York, from Greenwich to Gravesend and back, and beat her,the king steering part of the time-it was apparently the first record of a yacht match and of an amateur helmsman. During the reign of Charles II, yacht racing had become a popular sport. Little is known about the sport after the reign of king Charles. In the 18th century,water became a prime attraction for the European gentry looking for ways to pass their long leisure hours. The real beginning of pleasure yachting, however, dates from the early years of the 18th century,and the foundation of the first yacht club is credited to Ireland, the Cork harbour Water club, renamed the Royal Cork Yacht club, having been established in 1720. Maitland in his ‘History of London’(1739),mentions sailing and rowing on the Thames as among the amusements then indulged in;and Strut in his Sports and pastimes(1801) says that Cumberland Society consisting of gentleman partial to this pastime, gave yearly a silver cup to be sailed for in the vicinity of London. The boats usually started from Blackfrian Bridge, went up the Thames to Putney and returned to Vauxhall.

The real growth of yachting took place in the 19th century. With the Industrial Revolution there was a greater spread of wealth and with it the desire of ostentation. The aristocracy in England was already showing interest and the eon rich of industry also took to water. By boosting the numbers, they gave yachting the impetus it needed to develop into a major sport. English yachting progressed on the foundation of the yacht Club at Cowes in1815 by 50 noblemen and gentlemen owning yachts. The prince regent became a member of the club in 1817,which thenboat changed its name to the Royal Yacht Club, and 15 years later again changed it to the Royal yacht Squadnon. But no regular regatta was held there then. In 1834 regattas were popularized in England when the first royal cup was given by William IV to the Royal yacht squadron, a gift which has been continued ever since. After England in Europe,Yachting was popularized in France when a yacht club was established in 1840 in a place called Le harve. The club was known as the ‘Societe de regates’.Yacht racing on the international level got a boost when it was popularized in the United States’. In 1844, the first yacht club was founded in New York by nine yacht owners.

The decade between 1870 and 1880 may be termed the Golden Age of Yachting. Of races there was a plethora;indeed no less than 400 matches took place in 1876, as against 63 matches in 1856. The sport too was better regulated, and was conducted on a uniform system: the Yacht-Racing Association, established in 1815, drew up a simple code of laws for the regulation of yacht races,which was accepted by the yacht clubs generally throughout the world.

Yachting was introduced in the Olympics in the year 1900, when there were races in the 6m,8m and more than 10m classes, categories which are no longer used. There was no yachting at the St. Louis Games in 1904,but it returned in London in 1908 and has been regularly presented since then. The same year the International Yacht Racing Union was formed in 1908. It has governed this sport very effectively since then. Pleasure yachting became increasingly popular especially after the Second World War.

The Yachting Clubs of India :-Yachting was introduced in India by the British and the first yacht club was established in Bombay in 1846. The name of this club was the Royal Bombay Yacht Club and its entrance fee in those days used to be Rs.400. The next yacht club was also founded in Bombay in 1892 and its name was the Bombay Sailing Association. The earliest records of sailing on the naini Tal lake date back to 1880,when the yachts sailed were of the cutter type with lead keels. This was the first time when yachting was introduced at a high altitude. About this time, Fleetwood Williams, I.C.S.Commissioner of Meerut, built a Schooner yacht at St. Asaphs and launced it on the lake by means of a trolley. A twin hulled boat, ‘Gemini’was also built and sailed buy coloned Henry,Whilst Messrs Murray and Company imported three Belfast Lough type sailing boats,called ‘Coya’,’Doodles’and ‘Dorothy’and let them out on here for several years.

The Naini Tal sailing Club was started in 1897. The type of vessel used was the skimming dish or ‘Sorceress’ type. The well known Wave (Dee built) was of this class,and held her own for many years. Several yachts such as ‘Spray’and ‘Sheila’were locally built to compete with her,without much success.

In 1910,the Naini Tal yacht Club was formed on the initiative of the brothers Carey, C.W. Carey, a Major in the Guides, and F.Carey, a Captain in the Royal Artillery. Its name was entered in the Lloyds Register of Yachts in 1911. Those days the Naini Tal Yacht Club had a fleet of nine yachts designed by Linton Hope and built by Turks and Co. of Kingston-on-Thames.It was affiliated to the yacht Racing Association and those days had a membership of some 250 who were scattered all over India. The entrance fee was Rs. 30 with a monthly subscription of Rs.10 per member. For temporary members,the fee was Rs.15. The first commodore of the club was Lt. Col. C.W. Carey. In 1948 the club was taken over by the Indians and that year the commodore of the club and in 1957,Raj Kumar Giri Raj Singh was appointed as the first Indian commodore of the club.

boatIn 1911, the Royal Madras yacht Club also came into existence. The Bhopal Yacht Club was established in 1914 and in 1936 the Bangalore Sailing Club was founded.

Acknowledgements (i) Mr. Nirmal Sah, Boat House Club Library, Naini Tal (ii)Mr. Mahesh Gururani, Municipal Library, Naini Tal

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Events
  • Gallery
  • Contact Us
  • Affiliations
  • Sitemap