In 1946 Rotarian John Barrett of the Rotary Club of Brixton, London, conceived the idea of flying from the masthead of his boat a burgee bearing the Rotary emblem. He organised a London Meeting in 1947 with a number of other boating Rotarian enthusiasts, including Dennis Dalby and Stanley Leverton, the Chairman of District 113 (now 1130), the latter a highly qualified solicitor, who between them prepared the first constitution, articles and byelaws of the proposed Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians, a completely new concept within the Rotary world.
These proposals were submitted to RIBI for ratification by RI and were finally approved after long negotiations.
IYFR thus became the first of many Fellowships within RI World Fellowship activities of which today more than 60 exist. The Yachting Fellowship quickly spread around the world, currently having over 100 fleets in more than 40 countries with a membership of over 3500.
Until 1956 the Fellowship was based and run entirely from GB and it was at the Chicago Golden Anniversary Convention that the first International Commodore, Bob Stuart of Chicago was elected into office. At the same time the name was changed to International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians, again with RI approval.
It was at the 1993 International Convention in Glasgow where Andrew Mitchell (GB&I and Suffolk Fleet) who recommended that all future International Commodores be elected in rotation from 3 IYFR world sectors, Area One Europe and South Africa, Area 2 the Americas (North and South), and Area 3 the Pacific rim including Australia and New Zealand. The International Bridge unanimously accepted the proposal. Incidentally Andrew Mitchell was the first British International Commodore since Dennis Dalby in 1960.
The Yachting Fellowship has grown steadily and during the Glasgow RI Convention in 1997 GB&I became fully integrated with the rest of the world to make one truly International Fellowship. In the same year GB&I celebrated its 50th Anniversary of Rotary boating and friendship.
New fleets are currently being chartered throughout the world and there is an International website available on www.iyfr.net.
GB&I members receive a printed copy of Rotafleet News whilst an International magazine Rotafloat News is available to members on the International website.
The current International Commodore is Bob Burns of the Clyde Fleet (GB&I). Bob and his wife Ann are very enthusiastic IYFR members and are doing a great job in promoting IYFR throughout the world.