A Brief History of Yachts and How They Shaped the World

The history of boats began in 4,000 BC when the ancient Egyptians used reeds to create floating vessels that can carry them out onto the Nile River. Since then, the reeds gave way to wood and the technology spread out to the Phoenicians in 2,500 BC and the Vikings in 1,000 BC. Chinese traders used small boats called Junks for transportation and battles during the same period.

While certainly most yachts are boats, not all boats can be called a yacht. Yachts are almost exclusively used for pleasure unlike fishing boats and battle ships. During the antiquity, royal households have been known to use vessels for such purpose. Unfortunately, scant records of these magnificent vessels remain.

200 BC – Egypt

During the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator (221–204 BC), he was said to have built the largest ship of the day, the “Tessarakonteres”. The name translates to “40” referring to number of human rowers needed for each column of oars. It was believed that the catamaran-type ship was the largest human-powered vessel every built. The pharaoh is also credited for the building of Cleopatra’s galley Isis and Thalamegus.

1300 – Holland

The origin of the word “yacht” can be traced to the Dutch word “jaghts.” This is what the early Dutch people called small and fast boats. The name came from an earlier word “jagen”, which means a boat drawn by horses. They used these swift “jaghts” to chase off the criminal elements including pirates and smugglers along Holland’s waterways.

Eventually, rich merchants and ship owners made use of the “jaghts” to welcome and celebrate the return of their ships on the harbor. Later on, it became trendy to use these small boats for excursions with friends.

1600 – England

In 1660, Charles II of England returned to the throne after living in exile in Holland for 10 years. The city of Amsterdam celebrated his return by giving the king a 60-foot yacht with a crew of 20. Her name was Mary and she became the first Royal Yacht of the Royal Navy. The king was delighted by the gift, taking pleasure in sailing her on the Thames. The yacht inspired him to study navigation as well as naval architecture. During his lifetime, he built more than 20 yachts and rubbed off his enthusiasm on his brother James, the Duke of York.

Only a year after Charles II’s return to the throne, the first regatta was born. The 40-mile race on the Thames was between the king’s newly built Katherine and Anne, the Duke of York’s new boat. Needless to say, the king won and a new sport was invented.

1800 – Europe

Throughout the succeeding centuries, yachting became a sport of royalty. Eventually though, it was opened up to the rest of the elite class. One after another, yacht clubs started to form in Europe. The oldest one of all is the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Cork Ireland that was founded in 1720. Established in 1815, the Royal Yacht Squadron is celebrated as the most popular in all of England.

1840 – United States of America

The sport of yachting soon reached even the former colonies. In New York, the New York Yacht Club was founded in 1844. The club’s founder, John Cox Stevens, was an avid yacht builder. He built Gimcrack and invited 8 of his friends for a scheme to make money of yachting regattas in Europe. They commissioned a Pilot-style schooner and christened her “America” and went off to win the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Hundred-Guinea Cup that was renamed America’s Cup in honor of the winning yacht.

1900s – Philippines

The Manila Yacht Club is the oldest yacht club ever established in Asia. It was founded on January 20, 1927 when the first by-laws were signed. The founders were passionate yachtsmen who want to promote the sport and lifestyle of sailing in the county. They were James C. Rockwell, Aubrey P. Ames, Stewart E. Tait, A.S. Heyward, and Joseph A. Thomas.

At the start of the Second World War in 1941, Americans confiscated the club’s boats, fearing that Japanese soldiers can use them to attack the island of Corregidor. Unfortunately, some boats were burned while others were sunk.  It was only in 1947 that the club got back their property and women were welcomed as members as well by then.

2000 to Present – Philippines

Today, the yachting scene in the Philippines is thriving with more and more yacht clubs forming in all 3 of the major islands—Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. What’s more, dedicated sailors bring honor to the country by winning in internationally held regattas showcasing Filipino skills and knowledge of sailing. Increasing numbers of wealthy Filipinos are looking into yachts for sale in the Philippines for the ultimate pleasure of exploring the 7,100 islands the country has to offer. Companies like Europa Yachts Philippines make the purchasing of such quality vessels from Europe quite accessible these days.