The Bombay Yacht Club was founded in 1846 with Henry Morland as club Commodore and 30 years later – on the recommendation of Sir Philip Edmond Wodehouse and patronage of Queen Victoria became known as Royal Bombay Yacht Club. The seafront clubhouse was built in 1881, and received a number of prominent visitors within its first ten years including: H.R.H. Prince Arthur, their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, and American railroad tycoon and yachting enthusiast Mr. William Kissam Vanderbilt – also part owner of the 1895 America’s Cup winner, the 37.5m sloop: Defender.
In 1894, the Commissioners of the Lord High Admiral bestowed upon the club the Blue Ensign of Her Majesty’s Fleet with a Star of India surmounted by the Imperial Crown. An additional clubhouse, designed by Mr. John Adams – and whose construction work was subjugated by Mr. F.E. Stevens was completed on 7th November 1896. The style of the building combined English neo-Gothic with a Tudor half-timbered idiom, which characterized turn of the century architecture prevalent in the city at the time.
Yachting received a major stimulus in 1911, after King George V and Queen Mary arrived in Bombay on board the Royal P&O liner – HMS Medina. In 1958, the Bombay Club was closed for not accepting Indian members; at the time, RBYC granted honorary memberships to all Bombay Club members and provided a new home for their erstwhile club’s furniture and other effects.
The 1960s saw a new race introduced after H.R.H. Prince Philip visited the club and presented the Challenge Cup for a Combined Class race not less than 21 miles. RBYC at the time owned a fleet of four twenty one foot Seabird Class boats, whilst its member-owned boats included Chindwin (Bermudian Cutter), Iona (Gunter Sloop), Silver Oak (Yachting World Keel Boat), Tir (Yawl), Merope (Stor-Draken Class), Griffon and Wynvern (International Dragons). Member Philip Bragg, who had built Suhaili – the first yacht to sail solo non-stop around the world, died in 1984. Yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnson attended a reception in his honour at the club in 2004.
In 2006, the club was visited by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathan Band, KCB, ADC, Chief of the Naval Staff (and President of the Royal Naval Club) who accompanied Lady Sarah Band – also sojourning were other senior officers of his fleet. This was shortly followed by tarriance from Sir John Stirrup, the Air Chief Marshal of the Royal Air Force and Chief of Defence Staff. In 2010, General Sir Hugh Michael Rose KCB, CBE, DSO, QGM, graced the club with his presence.
Having undergone sympathetic restoration; Royal Bombay Yacht Club Residential Chambers received an award of merit in the 2013 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards.