At the Club
Visiting Pittwater north of Sydney? Caroline Strainig previews what you can expect if you call in at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
If the word “royal” makes you think of “stuffy,” think again, at least in the context of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at Pittwater. The club is one of the most prestigious in Australia, but has an open-door policy and welcomes visitors. It is located at 16 Mitala Street, Newport, ph (02) 9997 1022, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.rpayc.com.au
Land facilities include Halyards Bar and Café, a bistro-style restaurant popular prior to and after racing, which has a large lawn area outside, complete with undercover barbecue and children's play area. Halyards prides itself on its weekend breakfasts. For that special occasion, the fine-dining Quadrant Restaurant (bookings essential) is open Friday nights. You can find opening hours for Halyards and the Edinburgh Lounge on the website under “trading hours”.
Club regulations stipulate a minimum of shirts, shorts and footwear for Halyards and for the top level of the clubhouse smart, casual attire and suitable footwear. Hats or singlets are not allowed in either area.
Member-only facilities include a gymnasium, billiards room , and archives room – the latter being a small nautical library.
The premises have security parking for members only, but there is plenty of extra adjacent parking for visitors.
The small township of Newport is an easy if hilly walk away for groceries.
The marina complex today boasts 352 marina berths, moorings, hardstand storage, work berths, visitors' berths and a boatyard. The slipway facility was redeveloped in 2007 and incorporates a 50-tonne travel lift, hardstand for up to 15 boats, custom-built cradles and a 1000kg crane. Visiting boat owners are welcome to book into the boatyard facility and there are comprehensive marine services on site, including rigging, electrical, shipwrights and chandlery.
The club also owns 18 swing moorings, and there are a number of recreational moorings in popular bays in Pittwater for member use.
Fuel (24-hour, credit card) and water are available at the marina. A casual berth for a 12m yacht will cost you $45 a night, but book well ahead, especially during holiday periods. A key to the showers and toilets is available for a refundable deposit. Visit the website, click on ” waterfront facilities” and then “marina & moorings” for more details. Space-permitting, you are welcome to call in with your boat at the marina for a couple of hours to have a drink or a meal, but avoid Wednesdays and Saturdays, which are busy sail-training/ race days.
Cruising and racing
The club has strong cruising and racing divisions and operates a comprehensive sail-training program, including a youth development program that has fostered many champion sailors. The premier racing event is the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Offshore Series.
Organised cruising activities range from short weekend trips within the Pittwater/Hawkesbury area through to major cruises to the Whitsundays and Lord Howe Island, an extended Christmas cruise and an overseas cruise every couple of years. There is a lot of excellent cruising and passage-planning info on the website and dozens of photos. The cruising division also gets together for a very popular social dinner once a month known as “First Friday”.
The club was established “to promote the sport of yachting and boating.” The forerunner was The Mosquito Yacht Club, founded in Sydney in 1856. The name was later changed to the Prince Alfred Yacht Club to commemorate a visit by Prince Alfred to Sydney, and in August 1911 King George V gave the club permission to use the royal prefix.
In 1919 the committee decided that Sydney Harbour was becoming too congested for yacht racing and resolved to move to Pittwater. The first facilities on the current site were opened on December 17, 1938, and apart from World War II, the club has continued to grow and expand ever since.
Today the stated vision is: “Excellence in sailing and to provide a world-class yachting facility that attracts and involves members in the enjoyment of the sport and leisure activity that is sailing.”