A SAILING club which has existed for 200 years has warned it may have to close if plans for a new clubhouse don't get the go-ahead.

The Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club (RNCYC), founded in 1824 and based in Rhu for the last 86 years, has told Argyll and Bute Council planning officers that costs are too prohibitive to continue in its current premises.

They want to build a new clubhouse at the club's site at nearby Rhu Marina.

Council officials are now considering a masterplan for the development of the part of the Rhu Marina site which has been owned by Rhu Marina Developments Ltd - a company controlled by the RNCYC - since February 2021.

The authority’s officers are now considering a masterplan for the Pier Road site, which includes car parking, storage facilities, a slipway and a boat parking area along with the new clubhouse.

It is the first phase of a planned development of the RNCYC's land at the marina.

The rest of the marina site is owned by the Crown Estate Scotland and leased to Boatfolk Marinas Ltd.

The RNCYC's plans are now available to be viewed by the public, and comments can be submitted. Feedback from council officers is expected by late May.

The masterplan states: “RNCYC plans to relocate from its current premises in Rhu to a new clubhouse to be erected on the RNCYC site at Rhu Marina.

“Its current premises are no longer fit for its purposes, being a large Victorian listed building, with inadequate access to the water for, particularly, youth training and dinghy sailing, an area of activity which the club needs to develop and expand.

"It can only do that from purpose-built premises and facilities at the marina.

“The cost of maintaining, repairing, insuring and heating and lighting the listed building is simply prohibitive, and has caused the club to be in an annual loss-making position in recent years.

“Unless the club moves to more suitable premises at the marina, with a purpose-built slipway and boat parking area, it is inevitable that in the not very distant future the club will have to close its doors and cease to exist. Almost 200 years of yachting history on the Clyde will be lost.

“There would also be implications in that event in respect of the saving of the listed building.

“The club previously ran an extremely successful junior sailing programme at the marina, involving at its height around 40 young sailors, several of whom have gone on to represent the UK in the Olympic Games.

“At the recent games in Tokyo [in 2021] three sailors from that programme participated, one winning a silver medal and another being a silver medallist from the earlier London Games [in 2012].

“The planned move to the marina will enable the club to rekindle that programme, with proven methods, and build on that success.”

Club members voted in October 2016 to leave the historic building which has been their home since the organisation moved from Rothesay to Rhu in 1937.

Plans to build 46 residential units at the current clubhouse site were first revealed in May 2019.

The masterplan statement continues: “RNCYC intends to develop the RNCYC area by way of the construction of a new purpose-built clubhouse, with car parking, storage facilities, a slipway and a boat parking area.

“This will enable the club to direct its resources towards expanding its sailing and other water sports activities, and in particular youth sailing and training, providing a valuable resource for the local community.

“It will also enable the club to run more major events, bringing activity and benefit to the local area.

“In the past the club has hosted national and international championships, and has the potential opportunity to be involved in running the International 8 Metre World Championship in 2024. These events also bring business for the marina.

“It is the intention of the club to work with the marina owners and tenants in partnership, to further the success of the marina as a whole.

“The marina has never had any proper social facilities for its berth holders or visitors. The new clubhouse will provide such facilities, thereby enhancing the desirability of the marina as a destination.”

To view the plans, visit the council’s planning portal at argyll-bute.gov.uk and use the refence number 23/00615/MPLAN.