This article was first posted in December 2016. Following some recent discussions around the topic, it is being re-posted for Member's interest.

After recently viewing a number of yachts showing multiple club burgees, it easy to see that this topic is a complete mystery to most owners. Some put up everything they have and hope they have covered all the requirements.

So what is right? Which burgee do we fly and when and where do we fly it? This is an age old dilemma for most of us and one that has started many a spirited discussion in yacht club bars around the country. 

Which burgee?

I believe the only way to deal with this is for only one yacht club burgee to be flown at any one time.

  • If you are in the home waters of your yacht club, you should fly that yacht club's burgee. 
  • If you are in "neutral" waters, you can fly the burgee of any club to which you belong.
  • If you are in neutral waters, but on a cruise sponsored by a particular yacht club you should fly that yacht club's burgee.


When an owner belongs to more than one yacht club, it is recommended that only one burgee be flown, usually belonging to the principal club where the yacht is based. However:

  • When a vessel is from, for instance, RGYC but also belongs to QCYC it should fly the QCYC burgee while in the vicinity of QCYC.  
  • If the vessel is from, for instance, RGYC but participating in a QCYC event (no matter where) it should display the QCYC burgee.
  • No burgee is flown when racing.


The most senior position for a flag on a vessel is reserved for the Ensign - this is as close to the stern of the vessel as possible.  The Ensign shows the country of registry of the vessel and indicates its nationality. 

As the Ensign takes the senior position on a vessel, the order of precedence for positions for flying other flags is: 2) masthead, 3) starboard spreader, 4) port spreader. This assumes a simple plan of one halyard per spreader.

Traditionally, the burgee is flown at the main masthead and it should always be higher than the Ensign. Flag etiquette states that only one burgee is flown at a time, but it is not uncommon nowadays to see yachts flying more than one burgee.

The starboard spreaders are used for signalling. These days it is becoming increasingly common for yachts to fly a burgee from the starboard spreaders because of instrumentation sited at the main masthead. Legally there is nothing wrong with doing so but this practice presents a number of problems for those who wish to adhere to the traditions of flag etiquette.

More than one flag may be flown on a halyard except that flag etiquette states that no flag can be above the burgee on the same halyard.

The port spreaders are used for house flags. If an owner belongs to number of clubs he may fly their burgees from the port spreaders indicating membership of these clubs. If the burgee of a more senior club is already being flown, the others should be in descending order of seniority.


When sailing to QCYC:

  • Display the Ensign as close to the stern as possible
  • Fly the QCYC burgee on the starboard spreader
  • If desired, fly other club burgees on the port spreader
  • Do not fly a burgee when racing.

Roger Bennett


  • Reed's Maritime Handbook
  • Browns Signalling
  • RYA.org.uk

Posted 9th December 2016


Comment Guidelines: The SportsTG Network is made up of players, families and passionate sports followers like you who have a strong opinion about sport. That's great - we want you to have your say and share your thoughts with the world. However, we have a few rules that you must follow to keep it fun for all. Please don't be rude, abusive, swear or vilify others. Apart from some pretty serious sport sanctions, we also can ban you and report you if things get out of hand. So play fair and have fun, and thanks for your contribution.

Visiting and Berthing at QCYC

Photo Gallery

AVCG Queenscliff


Editions of the Coast Guardian:

Spring 2021   Summer 2021

QCYC weather

Find us