Nevsky Flot: Russia’s First Yacht Club

PETERSBURG, Russia—The Log featured Royal Cork Yacht Club in its Sept. 22-Oct. 6, 2017 issue. Royal Cork, which opened its doors in 1720, claims to be the world’s oldest standing yacht club. It would seem, however, another yacht club could claim to be the world’s first-ever yacht club: Nevsky Flot, or Nevskaya Flotilla.

Peter the Great founded Nevsky Flot in 1718, with 141 boats. The club, which was founded to “entertain people” in perpetuity, ceased to exist when Peter the Great died in 1725. Nevsky Flot remained dormant until 1892, when a Navy initiative led to the creation of Nevsky Yacht Club.

There were several yacht clubs founded before and after the second coming of Nevsky Flot, which is located in St. Petersburg.

Imperial St. Petersburg Yacht Club, for example, opened its doors in 1846, with 19 members and five sailing yachts. The club was only open to noblemen. Gavanskoe Yacht Society was founded in 1902 and Strelninsky Yacht Club was created in 1909. Petrograd Sea Yacht Club came to life in 1914, in the vein of Gavanscoe Yacht Society. The year 1917 witnessed the birth of Sea Youth Association.

St. Petersburg was home to more than 20 yacht clubs during the first two decades of the 20th Century. There was even an attempt, in 1912, to create a unified yachting society and bring together all Russian yacht clubs under one banner. Such efforts, however, dissipated by 1918 and yacht clubs in general were no longer much of a thing by 1924.

Russian yacht clubs did make a comeback in the 1970s, in the lead up to the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.

Fast-forward to the 21st Century and you’ll find yacht clubs in St. Petersburg yet again. Central Yacht Club, which was founded in 1846, moved into a new building in 1980. Also present in St. Petersburg are Navy Yacht Club (1954) and Kirovets Yacht Club (traces its history to Strelninsky Yacht Club).

But Nevsky Flot will always be St. Petersburg’s – and Russia’s – first yacht club. And since it closed its doors in 1725, Royal Cork YC can maintain it is the world’s oldest standing yacht club.

Source: St. Petersburg’s Committee of Culture

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