Watermanship being one of the many skills required of the Sapper led to the formation of a sailing club in 1812 and later to the development of cutter rowing teams.
In 1899 the General Officer Commanding Thames and Medway, the Royal Engineer General Sir Charles Warren (1840–1927) presented a challenge shield for a championship cutter race on the River Medway against the Royal Navy. The Sapper teams were drawn from members of the Submarine Mining School, but when the service was disbanded in 1905, the tradition of cutter rowing was continued by the fieldwork squads.
The club developed and became the Royal Engineer Yacht Club in 1846, making it one of the most senior yacht clubs in the United Kingdom. The REYC continues to this day, operating four club yachts and competing on behalf of the Corps at races around the world. The club is one of the oldest sports clubs in the British Army.
Members of the REYC, as one of the oldest clubs in the UK, are permitted to apply for permission to fly an Un-defaced Blue Ensign along with the REYC Burgee which is formed from cannons and lions of the shield of the coat of arms of the Board of Ordnance.
The REYC was originally based on a raft in St Mary’s Creek, now the site of Chatham dockyard locks. Activities in Chatham have recently been reduced and the Royal Engineers are now able to carry out sail training at the excellent facilities in Gosport and Thorney Island. Membership is made up of serving Royal Engineers and other servicemen and civilians attached to the garrison. The club operates moorings in Chatham and Upnor reaches.
The History of the Royal Engineer Yacht Club, written by Major General Sir Gerald Duke is published by The Pitman Press.
To this day it caters for all those who go out on the water on anything from ocean racing yachts to kite surfers.