Flags of Yacht Clubs

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Yacht Club Burgees

Each yacht club has a club burgee, normally a triangular pennant, that is displayed at its clubhouse and on members' boats according to club rules.  It is traditionally flown at the foremost masthead of a sailboat or at the jackstaff of a motor boat, but modern sailboats carrying communications and navigation gear at the masthead now customarily fly the burgee at the starboard spreader.  From the origin of yachting in America, most American burgees have  been some combination of red, white, and blue, with the designs consisting of geometrical shapes, stars, letters, and anchors.  More recent designs have introduced a wider range of colors and motifs, but the vast majority are still in the national colors.  The following are the burgees of some of the oldest U.S. clubs, with their dates of founding.  Images marked with asterisks (*) are adapted by permission from drawings provided by Jose Alegria Diaz.

New York YC (1844)*

Mobile YC (1847)*

Pass Christian YC (1849)

Southern YC (1849)*

Springfield Y&CC (1850)*

Carolina YC (NC) (1853)

Buffalo YC (1860)*

Neenah-Nodaway YC (1861)*

Raritan YC (1865)*

Detroit YC (1865)*

Riverton YC (1865)*

Boston YC (1866)*

South Boston YC (1868)*

New Hamburg YC (1869)*

San Francisco YC (1869)*

Portland YC (Me) (1869)*

Savannah YC (1869)

Lynn YC (1870)*

Eastern YC (1870)*

Dorchester YC (1870)*

Williamsburgh YC (1870)*

Seawanhaka YC (1871)

Beverly YC (1871)

Milwaukee YC (1871)

North Shore YC (1871)

Toms River YC (1871)

Stevens YC (1871)

Santa Barbara YC (1872)

Old Club YC (1872)

Hudson River YC (1873)

Albany YC (1873)

St. Augustine YC (1873)

Quincy YC (1874)

Knickerbocker YC (1874)

Lake Geneva YC (1874)

Savin Hill YC (1875)

Chicago YC (1875)

Rhode Island YC (1875)

Yacht Club Officers' Flags

Flags designating the presence of officers of American yacht clubs used to be similar to the Navy's burgee command pennant in shape but are now generally  rectangular.  Traditionally, the club commodore flies a blue flag with a white design, the vice commodore the same design on a red field, and the rear commodore the same design in red on a white field. This system is modeled on the traditional hierarchy of seniority of rank flags in the U.S. Navy.  The most common design--shown below--is that of the canton of the yacht ensign, the diagonal fouled anchor within a ring of stars.  Such flags were in use by officers of the New York Yacht Club by at least 1874, although the NYYC now uses a completely different system based on the design of the club's burgee.  In addition, there are flags for fleet captains, port captains, and past commodores, as well as for a variety of other club officers such as secretaries, treasurers, physicians, chaplains, quartermasters, and so on. Officers fly their flags in place of a private signal, except that on a single-masted sailboat it flies at the masthead and the club burgee moves to the jackstaff.  Alternatively, it is often displayed today at the starboard spreader.


Vice Commodore

Rear Commodore

Past Commodore

Fleet Captain

Port Captain



Race Committee

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