Club History

Founded at Muri beach, Rarotonga in 1940 the Rarotonga Sailing Club has made big achievements from small beginnings. The founding sailors were expat New Zealanders who worked for the New Zealand administration that managed Cook Islands affairs at that time. The original sailing vessels were dugout canoes with sails made from flour sacks stitched together. Races from the Sailing club to Titikaveka and back were common.

Before the clubhouse was built, canoes were placed above the high tide mark on Muri beach. In 1958 a severe storm with tidal surges of mountainous waves crossed over the reef at Muri and washed away, or smashed, almost all the outrigger canoes stored on the grass above high water mark. Only a few canoes survived this storm. However, sailing continued, with some of the older dugout canoes brought back into service.

It was then decided that building more Ron Powell type plywood canoes with better sails and equipment would result in faster racing. It did and these boats would be parked on the beach. Again another cyclone came and wiped out the entire fleet.

It was around this time that it was decided to upgrade the clubhouse from a tin shed to a proper clubhouse. A lease was negotiated with landowner and avid club sailor Papo Kekena for the beachfront land on which the existing RSC stands. The money to build was raised through debentures taken out by members and over many weeks of working bees the new clubhouse was built.

It was probably in 1970 that the club competed in its first international event, the South Pacific Games held in Tahiti. The team sailed a ‘fireball’ yacht, donated by Geoff Palmer, then managing director of Leopard Breweries.

In 1972 the Rarotonga International Airport was constructed and it was during this time that Sunbursts were introduced. The two person, 12 foot long Sunbursts equipped with professionally built sails and a spinnaker were much more technical. The club called them ‘father and son boats’, and being a New Zealand class, members could compete against visiting Kiwi sailors.

In 1998 a fire, which started in the middle of the night, burnt the club house down. This resulted in the building of a slightly smaller building, which opened in 2000.
From this period the club grew from strength to strength, increasing the number of local and expat members, and a drive to teach younger sailors. From this the young sailors began to make an impression in international competitions, including the Olympics.

Currently the club has many young sailors who are capable of sailing in Optimists, Bics, and 420s. The future of sailing looks very positive with many plans in place to develop the skills of these young sailors.
In 2025 the club will celebrate its 85th birthday.