Cape Town’s historic Royal Cape Yacht Club this week confirmed a lease breakthrough with South Africa’s National Ports Authority following years of uncertainty about the club’s tenure inside Cape Town harbour.

In a memo to RCYC members, Club Commodore Neil Gregory said Transnet National Ports Authority had given a written undertaking “to honour RCYC’s right of first refusal for a period of 20 years from 1st January 2024”. The club has been on tenterhooks for years due to uncertainty over whether their lease would be renewed. Fears that the club may have to relocate out of the harbour precinct – to make way for commercial port activities such as an expanded container terminal – prompted informal talks about potential alternative sites.

Gregory said the latest Transnet lifeline was subject to several conditions which the club intended to fulfill. These conditions include a valid Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment certificate, tax clearance, a valid letter of good standing from the Department of Labour, and audited financial statements for the past three years.

Said Gregory: “RCYC are working towards meeting all the criteria for the conditions. The rental still needs to be agreed upon and determined by a TNPA appointed evaluator. It’s the intention of RCYC to finalise the lease and rental by June 2021.

“This is a positive step forward to securing our next lease, we will keep you posted in this regard,” he said.

The yacht club was founded in 1905 and has for years served as South Africa’s unofficial sailing headquarters. It is a popular meeting point for sailors past and present, and is also home to a successful sailing development programme.

Other yacht clubs along the coast have not been as lucky in recent years, forced out of government-owned harbour facilities due to unaffordable commercial tariffs.