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Pirate Yacht Club, Bridlington (United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2019-06-04 by rob raeside
Keywords: pirate yacht club | bridlington | skull | sled flag |
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Club Burgee

[Pirate Yacht Club, Bridlington] image by Rob Raeside, 20 July 2015
Based on: Maritime Museum in Great Britain image/

From with text:

Burgee of the Pirate Yacht Club, Bridlington, used as a sledge flag by William Colbeck RNR on the Borchgrevink Antarctic Expedition 1898-1900.
Inscribed on the mount: ‘Burgee flown by Lieutenant Wm. Colbeck R.N.R, F.R.G.S, a member of the Pirate Yacht Club on Sledge journey across the Great Ice Barrier when in company with C. E. Borchgrevink F.R.G.S. the farthest south was attained Lat 78˚ 50΄ S. Long 164˚ 30́ W. on 17 February 1900. The sledge was detached from S.Y. "Southern Cross" Southern Cross expedition of which Lieutenant Colbeck was Chief Magnetic Observer. Previous farthest south 78˚ 10΄ by Capt Ross’. The burgee is made of red wool bunting printed with a black skull and crossbones. It has a machine-sewn linen hoist and is mounted on card, framed and glazed.

Victor Lomantsov, 20 July 2015

Possible flag

[Pirate Yacht Club, Bridlington] image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 9 August 2015

The Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club give some information on the Pirate Yacht Club on their Yorkshire One-Design pages: and

At the end of the nineteenth century, the RYYC had a rule that a member was required to own a yacht of at least 20 ton; this was connected to the earlier approach of yachting as a sport for gentlemen of means. Times were changing, with much smaller boats racing at the Solent, opening the sport to a larger crowd. This sentiment in 1898 created the Yorkshire One-Design class, a 1 ton, 25 foot open yacht. Similarly, at Bridlington amateur owners of fishing cobles (which had a similar size to the YOD) would race their boats recreational - the fishermen that used cobles for their livelihood didn't trust these activities, and considered the participants a bunch of pirates.

The RYYC members opposed to the 20 ton rule, the owners of the YODs, and the amateur coble racers, together formed the Pirate Yacht Club, apparently that same year, as their burgee was taken along on the Southern Cross expedition. (Lieutenant William Colbeck of that expedition was a relative of Haggitt Colbeck, part-owner of YOD number 1; the boat was named "Southern Cross" after the return of the expedition).

The skull over bones design most likely referred to the "Pirate" name. The red background ... well, since the RYYC had a red field for both their ensign and their burgee.

By 1908 the RYYC had dropped the 20 ton rule, had adopted the YOD class, and had moved to Bridlington as the Humber was getting to busy. That year, the PYC was disbanded.

WorthPoint lists two early twentieth century menus, one of which shows a rectangular version of the PYC burgee, possibly a club flag:
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 9 August 2015

I can now confirm that Lloyd's on 1902 shows the flags of the RYYC as both having a red background.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 2 May 2019