After those of Le Havre (1838) and Brest (1847), the Société des Régates de Royan was the third of its kind to be created in France. The club was founded in the middle of the XNUMXth century. At that time, Royan was more of a fishing village than a seaside resort. But not for very long.
Royan Regatta: a long history of water
La Royan Regatta Society is first of all a leisure/cruise sailing school for adults and school children. It is also the linchpin of many sporting events:
- league and inter-league championship in dinghy sailing,
- club championship
- and offshore regattas in habitable sail.
It is an institution for the locals. Facing port of Royan, its seat does not escape the gaze of summer visitors. During their holidays in Charente-Maritime, they can learn about nautical activities. For almost two centuries, the resort's seaside heart has been beating to the rhythm of the events orchestrated by this association. It has seen several generations of enthusiasts succeed one another at its head.
Bordeaux residents at the initiative of the Régates de Royan in the XNUMXth century
Summer 2021, Royan celebrates the 170th anniversary of its first official races.
The organization of the races does not immediately fall to the Société des Régates de Royan. But to the entity from which it came: the Gironde Regatta Society. The name of this nautical Club inaugural says it all about the decisive influence exerted by the Bordeaux “clientele” in the emergence of this founding sports project. Indeed, the richest among them already own yachts and sailboats. They are used to racing close to home, in the Gironde estuary, at the beak of Ambès.
In the 1830s, a river link by steamboat was deployed from Bordeaux to the coast of beauty. The seasonal migrations of these urban notables gradually transformed the fishing town of Royan (3 inhabitants at the time) as a resort. The town then acquired casinos and covered itself with hotels, villas and tourist infrastructures. Almost naturally, a nautical society was created on the initiative of these Bordeaux yachtsmen. Their objective is to organize, according to the rules of the art, an annual sailing race. The Société des Régates de Gironde is thus launching the first edition of the royannaise regattas August 10 and 11, 1851. Four years later, the tests are fixed every August 15.
The "skippers" at the origin of the Royan marina
From 1857, the local municipality wanted to regain control of this structure to the detriment of those it considered to be “strangers” to the municipality. The Société des Régates de la Gironde therefore changes its name and becomes the Royan Regatta Society. Its presidency is entrusted to the Bordeaux deputy Michel Montané. But the mayor of Royan at the time, Alfred de la Grandière, became, in fact, the real "boss".
However, club members do not have their own premises. Their meetings take place at the Café des Bains which overlooks the port (at n°140 rue Gambetta today). It is there, clubhouse style, that they draw up the plans for what will soon look like a summer high mass. Each of August 15 regatta closes the social season in style. And, as a finale, they give rise to a spectacular fireworks display.
The success is immediately popular. Indeed, both residents and visitors mingle and throng to the quays to watch the nautical jousting. Spectators also come from outside, especially from Gironde. In 1855, an additional steamer was made available on the Bordeaux – Royan route to meet demand. The development of regattas and the influx of ships intended for leisure finally led those responsible for the structure to build a pontoon in front of the pier. This equipment is the ancestor of the Royan marina.
Royan Regatta: Olympic champions
In 1914, the Société des Régates de Royan became Royan Regatta Association. In the XNUMXth century, it was at the helm of several renowned events that punctuated the resort's summers. Among them are:
- the race-cruise organized between Charente-Maritime and Arcachon (shortly before the Great War),
- the hotly contested Royan – La Baule (round trip) from 1927 to 1940,
- the Atlantic Arc Challenge (1994),
- and two Grand Prix des Multihulls (1997 and 1998)
Meanwhile, a sailing school was formed in 1951. It aroused a new demand which increased sharply until 1968. Moreover, 500 members were counted that year.
Another source of pride for the Société des Régates: its professionals have trained champions, like Thierry Péponnet, gold medalist in Seoul in 1988 with Luc Pillot.
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