Royal Savage Yacht Club changes controversial name after 41 years

Local News

After more than 41 years, a yacht club is changing its name. What was once the Royal Savage Yacht Club will now be called the Diamond Island Yacht Club.

“We were named after a boat. And I don’t think we gave it a lot of thought why the boat was named the Royal Savage,” said Diamond Island Yacht Club Commodore Will Paten.

The Royal Savage was built by the British. In 1775, American forces captured the 50-foot schooner in St. Jean, Canada. Then, a year later, the British set it on fire in the Battle of Valcour. It sunk to the bottom of Lake Champlain and sat there for 158 years.

“Savage” was in reference to indigenous Americans who fought alongside the British. But, Patten says the name is highly insensitive. In a unanimous decision, board members agreed it was time for a change.

“It is a slur on these native Americans. They lived peacefully on this land in harmony with nature for centuries before we got here,” said Patten. “The Iroquois Nation was founded in 1200 A.D., and for 500 years they lived on a pledge to never declare war against each other.”

Commodore Patten and club members are proud to rename it after an important, little island in Lake Champlain located just three miles from the club.

“The name Royal Savage doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t say where we are, it doesn’t say what we care about, it doesn’t say who we are,” said Patten. “Diamond Island is a tremendous boon to all boaters. It had a navigational beacon, it gives us real time weather data, it’s the southern terminus of a lot of sailboat races.”

He says the yacht club is best known for its regatta in August.  Vice-Commodore Jim Moody says there are also programs throughout the summer. 

“We hold about two sailboat races a month and we get a participation of about 20-25 boats,” said Moody. That’s in addition barbeques, gatherings, and programs.

The commodores bring boaters of all skill levels together. They say they take pride in their causal atmosphere, club house tent, and nearly 300-member community. 

“I think the biggest thing for me, and I’ve been a member for 20 something years, if I have a problem, or if I need to fix something, or if I need a tool, it’s there,” said Patten.

And he says he looks forward to boating this summer under the new name. 

“It’s the right thing to do.” 

There will be naming ceremony Saturday, June 5 at 8 a.m. at Point Bay Marina. New and returning members are welcome to attend the unveiling of the banner. They can also attend a boat tour at 10 a.m.

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