Looking down on the Yacht Club from Monaco’s exclusive seawater Spa, “Thermes Marins”, the new club-house really is a magnificent icon of multi-decked architecture – inaugurated in 2014 and designed by internationally renowned architect Lord Norman Foster.
Only in the Principality’s marina could you confuse this giant structure for the yachts around it that it resembles – a yacht mirage with a gorgeous deck with luxurious swimming pool and terraces for dancing. Splendid enough for meetings of the most discerning yacht enthusiasts, including the glitterati and “Three Comma” billionaires that frequent it.
Yachts Beyond the Reach of Mere Mortals
Some of the largest and most expensive yachts in the world dock here to take in the city’s pleasures, particularly during the iconic Monaco Yacht Show. You can wander around marvelling at all of the gadgets designers can inlay on these boats like the 348-foot-long AMADEA one of the largest and most distinctive superyachts in the world with its six distinctive guest decks. Or perhaps gaze at the 365-foot-long TIS, one of the largest and most regal yachts to be launched this year.
These superyachts, like the Yacht Club itself are like private islands and wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond movie. If billionaires Bernard Arnault or Larry Page or Larry Ellison come calling, Monaco Yacht Club sets the stage perfectly.
Home of the Grimaldi Dynasty
For over 600 years from the 12th century onwards, the Grimaldi stronghold at Port Hercule, including where the Yacht Club now preens itself, was one of the prized naval assets on the Mediterranean. Its strategic location served more than once to change the course of history.
It was around the time of the reign of Charles III of Monaco that the Principality’s reputation as an international haven of luxury and wealth took off. And Charles III had the vision to encourage the development of Monaco as a magnet for international regattas of renown to which the world flocked.
Historic Regatta Heaven
The first of these regattas were held in the bay of Monaco in 1862, so successful that in 1888 the “Société des Régates” was established by Prince Charles III and his son Prince Albert I, affectionately known as the “Oceanographer Prince”.
Almost a century of famous regattas preceded the founding in 1953 by Prince Rainier and presided over by Prince Albert II since 1984, the Yacht Club de Monaco. The Club brings together more than 2000 members from 66 nationalities. Many of the world’s most prestigious private yachts fly the Yacht Club de Monaco’s burgee, testimony to its unique position in the International yachting world.
Prince Albert’s Presidency
In April 1984, with Prince Albert’s Presidency, he developed new international events such as the Primo Cup, the biggest gathering of monotype yachts in the Mediterranean Sea. Prince Albert also put emphasis on classic Yachting with the organization from 1994 of the Monaco Classic Week for vintage and classic yachts, the Prada Challenge for Classic Yachts.
Notably, it was the first visit of Atlantic 2010 (replica of the 1903 three-mast schooner on which Charlie Barr in 1905 set the best time for an Atlantic crossing) to the Principality. Another icon, the SS Delphine (1921) steam-boat made a welcome return. It was aboard this beauty that three world leaders, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill, negotiated at least part of the 1945 Yalta Agreement.
Yacht Seasons are typically opened with ultra-private concerts at YCM with celebrities like Sir Elton John in 2016, Duran Duran in 2017, and Sting last year. It was yet another global star Lionel Richie singing “All Night Long” this September who delighted the many boat owners and YCM members. “All Night Long” was attended by YCM President, Prince Albert II and a host of international personalities including actor-producer Samuel L. Jackson, basketball legend Magic Johnson, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and fashion designer Domenico Dolce, one of the two behind the eponymous brand D&G.
Regatta and Sports Heaven with a Golden Future
The Monaco Yacht Club from its beginnings embraced and has nurtured a prestige Regatta program that has accelerated and taken on new dimensions under Prince Albert’s Presidency.
It is worth mentioning the Primo Cup again as it has quickly established itself as the big meeting that opens the season in the Mediterranean for Europe’s one-design elite. Just a few other examples of stand-out Regattas enjoyed by YCMmembers include:
Monaco Swan One Design, (9th-13th April 2019) organized in conjunction with the Yacht Club de Monaco, was the first event in the 2019 Nations Trophy Mediterranean League.
Monaco Globe Week with the IMOCA 60 – 60-foot monohulls being among the fastest modern racing monohulls have raced on a course totalling 1,300 nautical miles embracing some of the most emblematic marks in the Western Mediterranean.
Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series offers a monthly programme alternating high level regattas and training weekends for onedesigns.
As well as the Primo Cup another innovation worth a double mention here is Monaco Classic Week. Persuaded that the reading of the past holds keys for the future Prince Albert fostered the creation and coordination during five years of a unique circuit for vintage and classic yachts, the Prada Challenge for Classic Yachts, without forgetting the acquisition of Tuiga in 1995, since becoming the flagship of the YCM. More recently the wave continued with the launching in 2005 of the “La Belle Classe” label.
The whole yachting world continues to look to Monaco to organize its most prestigious events. Within the last 12 months, 200 guests from the America’s Cup community from around the world gathered at the Yacht Club de Monaco to celebrate the launch of the Prada Cup – the Challenger Selection Series for the 36th America’s Cup to be presented by Prada in January 2021 in Auckland – deemed as “the quest for oldest trophy in sport”, the America’s Cup. Not to forget World Rowing with the Prince Albert II Challenge, a 6000m coastal race organised by the Societe Nautique de Monaco.
The Enthusiasm and Promise of Monaco’s Youth at YCM
Looking to the future is the Monaco Sports Academy which provides support to gifted young Monaco sailors and sportsmen taking on the world. The Academy is a close collaboration between the Yacht Club de Monaco, presided by Prince Albert and its General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri, and Philippe Ghanem who is an active member of the Club. They share a common goal: to help young athletes living in Monaco reach the highest level in sport.
Also founded in 1970 by Prince Rainier III, the Sports Section of Y.C.M. adapts training to youngsters from as young as age six from initiation to competition and at every age.
Look out for the Monaco Optimist Team Race from 9-12 January 2020. The regatta is reserved for 20 teams of young sailors, all under 14. YCM invites the most competitive clubs with emphasis on tactics and above all team-work.
Full of youthful energy and promise is the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge next held on 30 June-4 July 2020. The Yacht Club de Monaco, in collaboration with the International Powerboating Federation (UIM) and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation organises the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge which is unique in the world.
How to become a new member of the Yacht Club
Anyone wishing to become a member of the Yacht Club de Monaco needs to be introduced by two “sponsors” from YCM. The sponsor’s letter of introduction will explain the applicant’s motives for joining the Club. Prince Albert, President of the Yacht Club, presides over the meetings of the admissions’ committee. The role of the sponsor is essential. The latter, must integrate him into the life of the Yacht Club, accompany him, present him to the other members but also involve him in organized events, whether they be social or sports.
The sponsor also undertakes to ensure that his “protégé” embraces the YCM’s philosophy and values, will actively engage in the Club’s life and keep its reputation at the pinnacle.
A Regal Club and Natural Host of Prestigious Events
The Yacht club reaches well beyond being a club for owners of yachts and superyachts. It is actually an immense infrastructure akin to a multi-tiered island that organises not only events connected to the yachts and regattas but also all kind of sports and social events, dances and entertainment. High society balls, conferences, exclusive business gatherings and prestigious auctions are just part of the kaleidoscope of activity.
The members of the club and their guests have at their disposition restaurants with Michelin Star chefs (including the exclusive 1909) gyms and a library – and a spa-zone, not to mention the gorgeous pool and terraces overlooking the azure bay. There is a truly great bar, a hive of social contact, with an international reputation and winner of awards for its unique cocktails and the skills of its bar staff. Endless discovery is to be found in each private niche of this island-club.