1948 – 1995
The decade following the end of the War was called the “age of austerity and reverse sheer”. Neither were good looking. However, Bluebottle, the Dragon owned by the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, gave small boat racing a kick start. Speed was becoming acceptable too, and Peter du Cane with Vospers was a pioneer. Tommy Sopwith won the first off-shore power boat race to Torquay in 1961. The moving spirit behind this and the Boat Show was Max Aitken. In 1957, Hugh Goodson, who helped to found the Sail Training Association, headed the 1958 Squadron challenge for the America’s Cup. Captain Henry Denham and Lord Camrose explored the Mediterranean and the former wrote his remarkable guides.
In 1966/67 Sir Francis Chichester sailed on his own round the world, which led to the Chichester Trophy, presented by The Duke of Westminster, and the Whitbread Round the World Race. Sir Owen Aisher produced Yeoman after Yeoman and Ted Heath won the Sydney – Hobart with Morning Cloud in 1969. The Admiral’s Cup enlivened racing at Cowes. The first Chairman of the Cowes Combined Clubs in 1964 was Lord Runciman. Cowes was changing. Two Commodores, Sir John Nicholson and John Roome, consolidated the Squadron’s position and Sir Maurice Laing gave Cowes the chance, through a Trust, to take over the marina.
The Castle itself was fitted for ladies in the 1960s. The brass hot water cans disappeared in favour of the bedroom basin and the radiator made its appearance. The Pavilion, designed by Sir Thomas Croft, was opened in 2000. This elegant creation provides on shore facilities for yachtsmen and their families while allowing the Castle to retain its ‘Country house’ ambiance. The Pavilion also enabled the Squadron to cross burgees with the New York Yacht Club in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Schooner America’s famous victory of 1851.
The latest alteration is the RYS Jubilee Haven which, together with the Cowes Harbour Commission pontoon off the Parade, does much to enliven the scene on the water for the visitor to Cowes.