101st anniversary of Royal Madras Yacht Club celebrated

Little do residents of the city know that even up to 1910, Chennai's future was quite bleak. But everything changed once the Chennai Port came up. “Trade just boomed after that. That was the making of the city. It was also the only operational port in eastern waters during the second world war,” historian V.Sriram said on Sunday.

Speaking at an event to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the founding of the Royal Madras Yacht Club (RMYC) that is based within the Chennai Port premises, Mr.Sriram said that unlike Calcutta or Bombay, Madras did not have a natural harbour.

“The waters were so choppy that ships had to anchor two miles away from the coast. Passengers and goods were brought to the coast by masulah boats and catamarans operated by semi-naked men. Those boat operators were the autorickshaws of yesteryears. When the boat was riding the highest tide, they used to demand more money,” he said.

Linking the story of the Yacht Club with that of the Port, Mr.Sriram said that the Club's history is intertwined with the wars that were fought on Madras's shores. “The Club house was bombed by the German warship Emden, and the shrapnel from an exploded bomb damaged one of its walls.”

The brief talk was followed by a guided tour of RMYC's collection of photographs stretching back to the 1920s and a sailing expedition down the Marina beach.

The RMYC has taken up the task of encouraging youngsters to take up sailing as a sport and offers highly discounted rates for school students wishing to learn the sport.