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History of Yacht Club-burgees (Germany)

Entwicklungsgeschichte der Segelclubstander

Last modified: 2012-10-09 by klaus-michael schneider
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History of Yacht Club-burgees (Germany)

Especially important in the sailing sport was the development history of the club burgee. The club flag - the triangular burgee - had eg. for the 'Norddeutschen Regatta-Verein' [North German Regatta Club] originally a special meaning. The burgee was first introduced in 1875, so the yacht sailing under it would receive customs excemption in Hamburg. In the BSC around the [previous] turn of the century, every sailing ship had her own flag, so each could be recalled from land with
the corresponding flag signal. However, in general these very pragmatic purposes later fell in to oblivion, and the burgee became the specific symbol of the sailing club.

The KWC in Friedrichshafen received by order of the cabinet, 6 Jul 1913, the national flag with the arms of the house of Württemberg as their club flag. How much value was attached to such outward symbols, is shown by the speech of thanks by the chairman: "With pride and joy we have received it from the hand of the king as a guarantee of the warm interest of our highest commander in the fate of our club, as a jewel, which we will always honour, which should bring us to manly action, to serious work, to faithfull fulfillment of duty." To these members the flag and the sailing sport were much more than just a pass the time. Regarding sailing and especially their club, the sailors spoke of 'manly action', 'serious work' and 'faithfull fulfillment of duty', as they would regarding a nation.

The symbols in the burgees were at the time often symbolic. For example, in the [nineteen]-twenties the burgee of the BSC had two golden laurel branches, as a symbol for glory and honour. The "Flag with the emblem of our club" was seen by the sailors of the time as a symbol little different from the national flag. A burgee could therefore only be flown if one had a burgee certificate. This, in turn, is to this day only received when the craft is entered in the clubs yacht registry. For this a burgee fee or entry fee is required. Before the first world war, in Konstanz a burgee certificate cost 5 Mark. The exclusivity within the club was well paid for. The certificates furthermore have just personal validity and expire at the sale of the boat. -Finding of the right symbols proved to be a lengthy procedure for a lot of sailing clubs. How important these concerns were even after the second world war, can been e.g. at the 'St. Gallischen Yacht-Club'. Here the name change of 1957 required the design of a new burgee. 78 designs were discussed before one design was agreed upon in 1958. How political many flags were, is shown among others at the Bodensee-Segler-Verband, who before the first world war apparently picked themselves a black-red-golden one."
Source: German Yachting Association.
Translated by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 9 Oct 2005

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