RYA Welcomes Royal Yacht Squadron Vote to Allow Women

The Royal Yachting Association, U.K. boating’s governing body, welcomed a move by the Royal Yacht Squadron to admit women as members for the first time since it was founded almost two centuries ago.

The yacht club, based in Cowes Castle on the Isle of Wight off southern England, voted Aug. 4 to admit female members. It said today that it’s “delighted” to confirm that “following extensive consideration and consultation” its members unanimously passed a resolution to let women join.

The men-only rule had been so strict that even Queen Elizabeth II, the club’s patron, was once refused entry by the main door, the Daily Telegraph reported today. The Royal Yachting Association supports the rule change.

“Sailing is an all-inclusive sport that is enjoyed by millions of people, young and old, men and women; it’s a sport for all the family,” Jon White, the association’s sport development manager, said in a statement. “There are over a thousand sailing clubs across the country providing facilities for all and making the sport accessible, so we very much welcome the decision by the Royal Yacht Squadron.”

Calling itself “one of the most prestigious and exclusive yacht clubs in the world,” the RYS was founded in London in 1815. Membership was open for “a gentleman” who “owned a vessel not under 10 tons,” according to its website. That’s been interpreted in recent times as “a gentleman actively interested in yachting,” it says.

All-Male Golf Clubs

The move to allow female membership “further confirms the commitment the Royal Yacht Squadron has had since the early 1960s, when lady associate members were introduced, to integration of ladies in all its activities and in the use of its facilities,” it said in an e-mailed statement today.

The RYS committee “will bring forward rule changes to the spring meeting next year,” it added.

The vote comes a month after the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, which governs golf outside the U.S. and Mexico, said it would look into the issue of all-male clubs after controversy about Muirfield hosting this year’s British Open.

The Gullane, Scotland-based club is one of three in the Open rotation with no women members. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond didn’t attend the event to protest Muirfield’s stance on female members.

Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters Tournament each April in Augusta, Georgia, admitted its first female members last August, ending almost a decade of scrutiny.

The U.S. Golf Association and the PGA of America, which run the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, respectively, don’t allow those majors to be played at all-male clubs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh in London at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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