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A Corinthian issue

Terrance Phillips

In yachting, the term “Corinthian” is very familiar, but what does

it really mean? It’s one of those unique words that is rarely used

outside the yachting or Biblical community, much like the description of


a yacht club flag, known as a “burgee.”

I’ve recently been asked the origin of the word, “Corinthian,” and its

association with yacht clubs. I thought about it, thinking I knew exactly

what it meant, but decided to look it up in the dictionary to be safe.


Was I ever shocked.

“Corinthian adj. 1. of Corinth; noted in ancient times for its

artistic adornment, luxury and licentiousness.” I was then required to

look up the meaning of “licentiousness.”

“Licentiousness adj. 1. sensually unbridled; libertine; lewd.”

Whoaoaa! I immediatly began to wonder why Newport’s Bahia Corinthian

Yacht Club was formed? Just kidding, BCYCers. BCYC has a fine tradition

of sailing and racing, so there must be more to this Corinthian thing.


Better I dig a little deeper.

“Corinthian 2. luxurious.” Ah, now we might be on to something. The

Newport Harbor Yacht Club is very luxurious, as is the Balboa, St.

Francis in San Francisco, San Diego Yacht Club, and many others. So

maybe, to be a Corinthian club, it must be luxurious? However, one of the

best clubs in Newport, with a superior history of yacht racing, is the

Southshore Yacht Club. It isn’t what I would call luxurious. However, I’d

certainly call it a Corinthian yacht club. I guess the word Corinthian,


as relates to clubs, must have a different meaning. Deeper I dig.

“Corinthian 3. Ornate.” That must be it. Most of the yacht clubs are

ornate, you know, all the gold braid, elegant trophy displays and Queen

Anne chairs. No - can’t be. I’ve seen no Queen Anne’s at the Lido Isle,

or the American Legion yacht clubs, and they exemplify the Corinthian

spirit. I began to wonder what really was the connection between

“Corinthian” and yachting. There were other defilnitions in the

dictionary, all of which were even further away from the concept of

yachting clubs.

Corinthian is a term, that, even when you ask 10 seasoned yacht club

members, you’ll probably receive 14 different answers. The meaning of

Corinthian, as explained in the Southern California Yachting Association

bylaws is:

Article 1, 1.3, Definition: “Corinthianism in yachting is that

attribute which represents participation for sport as distinct from gain,

and which also involves the acquirement of nautical experience through

the love of sport, rather than through necessity or the hope of gain.”

Who would have thought that the America’s Cup, Fastnet,

Sydney-top-Hobart and the Whitbread were non-Corinthian activities? These

races must be classified as “professional races,” as differentiated from

“participating for sport, rather than financial gain.”

Therefore, the focus of a true, Corinthian yacht club, is a club

organized to participate in the sport of yachting, for the benefit of its


Newport Beach’s newest Corinthian yacht club will open in six days,

September 30.

The Newport Beach Yacht Club, in the facility previouisly known as the

Shark Island Yacht Club, is organized to operate in the true Corinthian


The 10,000 square-foot facility will host the Voyagers’ “Hot Rum and

Humphrey Bogart Series,” and several additional races throughout the

coming year.

In addition, various philanthropic and social events are planned for

this energetic Corinthian club. An affordable club membership drive is

underway, therefore anyhone interested in participating in the yacht club

experience may contact the Newport Beach Yacht Club by calling (949)