The Club
[Adapted from articles by the Founding Commodore (Robert H Corbett) and George Gray (Past Commodore)]

November Lady and Impromptu hard on the heels of Whirligig in the Autumn 2002 Pursuit RaceIt was just after 10am on the morning of 1 May 1976 that 21 yachts crossed the start line off the Royal Clyde Yacht Club at Rhu, on a race to Colintraive in the Kyles of Bute. Nothing unusual about that you might say but this event was unique in the annals of sailing and medicine, for every yacht was entered by a doctor.

For once the gods were against us, for my log of that day records rising winds reaching gale force, with very heavy seas off Cloch Lighthouse. Prudence and sea-sickness overcame valour and foolhardiness. I was forced to retire, along with 18 others. On return to the moorings, my crew and I set off by car to Colintraive where to our amazement, as we came over the hill, we found a beautiful, tranquil scene with yachts moving gently to light zephyrs and basking in a glorious sunset. What had we done wrong?

At Colintraive Hotel, we met up with Alex Gilchrist of Siemens Ltd, who had generously put up a number of cups for the race and were told, "It's only been like this for the last 30 minutes." However, two yachts did finish the race, John Elias Jones in Stardust of Ashton and Rosemary Weir in Siolta. An even stranger sight was of a late straggler, Taal, arriving with only a husband and wife crew plus a 2 year old daughter. "A splendid sail," said Ernest, a psychiatrist of course, "where are the others?" Norma let the cat out of the bag, "We spent the afternoon at anchor in the Holy Loch - asleep." Perhaps Ernest should have received a prize for sound seamanship!

From such an inauspicious start, great things can however mushroom, and in August that year a meeting of like-minded persons was called and held in the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow. About 30 or so persons turned up, and the Serpent Yacht Club was born. Membership is open to all persons whose employment pertains to the National Health Service, and as such members include not only doctors, but dentists, nurses, physicists, radiographers, physiotherapists, engineers, occupational therapists, together with their spouses & children.

Over the years the Club has held musters on the Clyde and the West Coast of Scotland. Each year a hardy band of about 15 - 20 yachts and mixed crew race or cruise to the musters. The Schering Salver is awarded to the overall winner of the Spring and Autumn Regattas, and the Club has been fortunate in receiving donations of a number of trophies, enabling yachts to race in classes suitable to their size and performance. Popular venues for SYC musters have included Colintraive, Rothesay, Carrick Castle, Tarbert, Troon, and more recently the Holy Loch, Craobh and Gigha.

Much has changed in sailing in the time of the club's existence, not least has been the average size of the boats owned by club members. Waterline length has increased by about eight feet per decade. Paper charts and parallel rulers now tend to take second place to GPS or chart plotter. No longer is the Clyde the only base for club members' boats. As we enter the new Millennium, a unique group of sailing friends - the Serpent Yacht Club - go from strength to strength.