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The Clube Naval de Lisboa isan association of private law, non-profit and of Utility Publica, founded on February 27, 1892 by Abel Power Daggge, Augusto de Paiva Moniz, Carlos French Duff, Duarte Alexandre Holbeche, Frederico José Burnay, José Felix Peixoto Gimenez, Joaquim Honório Metrass, José Maria Batista Lopes de Amorim, Justino M. de Oliveira, Narciso M. de Oliveira, Nestor de Oliveira Sampaio, Pedro Augusto Franco Júnior, Pedro Sanches Navarro, RNOaklay and Xavier de Almeida.

The Club, which in its initial statutes had as its mission “cooperation with the very useful, noble and philanthropic idea of creating an aid station for shipwrecked people and nautical instruction”, quickly assumed an important role in the Portuguese nautical scene.


Abel Power Dagge, one of the forerunners of rowing and sailing in Portugal

The Club, which established usIts initial mission was “cooperation with the very useful, noble and philanthropic idea of creating an aid station for shipwrecked people and nautical instruction”, which quickly assumed an important role in the Portuguese nautical scene.

Its genesis dates back to the first nautical club of which there are references in Portugal: the Arrow Club, founded by the English community on August 18, 1828. This club gives rise to the Clube de Remeiros Lusitano in 1862, in the same year that the German living in Portugal founds the Tagus Rowing Club. These two clubs, due to financial difficulties, merged in 1873 into the Rowing Club of Lisbon.

In 1890, following a regatta organized in Trafaria, Frederico Burnay promoted a commission with a view to transforming the “Rowing Club de Lisboa” into the Club Naval de Lisboa, also bringing together dissident members of the Real Associação Naval de Lisboa.

The project of the so-called Installing Committee was approved in November 1891, at a meeting at the premises of the Parceria dos Vapores Lisbonenses, a Burnay family company, at Cais do Sobre, having as its founding principle “cooperation with the very useful, noble and philanthropic idea of creating a aid station for shipwrecked people... and nautical instruction”.

The assembly approving the Statutes, the official date of foundation, took place in the same place, on February 27, 1892.


CNL, given the dynamism of its founders, quickly acquired great relevance in the Portuguese nautical scene, a fact recognized from the outset by the highest authorities in the country, starting with the Royal Family, great enthusiasts and promoters of nautical activities, which led to a Club's rapid growth.

In 1893 King D. Carlos I awarded the title of Royal to the club, which was renamed Real Club Naval de Lisboa and Prince D. Luiz Filipe accepted the title of Honorary Commodore.

In 1894, the Queen Mother D. Maria Pia and the Infante D. Afonso and later, in 1895, King D. Carlos I and Queen D. Amélia accepted the titles of protector partners.

In 1897 King D. Carlos I accepts the position of Comodoro.


From an early age, the club showed great dynamism in the organization of nautical events and was a pioneer in the teaching of rowing and sailing.

The importance of the club in the nautical panorama did not take long to be recognized institutionally as well. In 1901, by order of the 22nd of August of the Minister of the Navy, the privilege of using a private flag was granted to yachts registered with the Clube Naval de Lisboa.

Not only in Lisbon did the CNL develop its activity. Throughout its history, the club has founded several nautical stations and delegations in different places such as Cascais, Azambuja, Trafaria, Portimão, Pedrouços and Lagos. Many of these structures became autonomous or gave rise to local clubs and associations.

In the field of organizing regattas, rowing and sailing, the opening of the Cascais section in 1901 was of fundamental importance for the Club's growth. This section was closed at the end of the 1930s, coinciding with the foundation of the Clube Naval de Cascais. For more than thirty years, the club annually organized events of great importance for the time.

Here D. Carlos I won the Vasco da Gama Cup for the club, in its last edition in 1907 at the helm of the Maris Stella, a straw boat that the King had purchased to offer to Queen D. Amélia.


Vasco da Gama Cup, 1898

Other events of record took place in the Cascais regattas, namely in 1894 for the first time in Portugal, when a woman, Dona Eleanor Bucknall, a member of the Club, took part in a regatta steering her own sailing boat.

In 1902, the first oceanic regatta held in Portugal ended in Cascais, the Leixões-Cascais Regatta, in which the Lia, the Queen's straw boat, won with the flag of the Real Club Naval de Lisboa.

Also in this year, the first class of single-type sails, the bulb-keels, are introduced in Portugal. Three vessels were acquired by members of the Club, the Naide by Charles Bleck, the Geisha by Conde Castro Guimarães and the Laura by José Libânio Ribeiro da Silva. These were joined by the Nadejda, acquired by King Carlos I, with slight differences. It was a fine-keel, but it ran in real time with the rest. These very innovative and light boats for the time allowed racing close to the coast and were identified by the sail number (innovative at the time) so that they could be identified by those following the race.


The regicide of 1908 and the implantation of the Republic in 1910 brought the club a troubled period, largely due to the connection to the royal house. D. Carlos I was Commodore of the club and his successor, King D. Manuel II, Honorary Commodore.

It is quite symbolic that when he left for exile in 1910, aboard the Yacht Amélia, the flag hoisted at the entrance to Gibraltar was the badge of the RCNL Commodore.

Legally, the designation of Real ended and the blue and white colors of the Club's insignia, pavilion and pennants had to be put aside and the colors black and red were used instead. On the flag and pennant, the royal crown is replaced by a white star, in a first phase and later by an anchor with the coat of arms of the Republic.


Banner of the Real Clube Naval de Lisboa (top) and its evolution throughout history to the present day (bottom)


During these years, there has been a stagnation of rowing and sailing sports and the growth of other sports. The CNL had to boldly accompany this movement, as it had to keep up with «fashion» and had incursions into other modalities such as power boating, swimming, tennis, fencing, artistic gymnastics, equestrianism, weightlifting, Greco-Roman wrestling.

In the promotion of new modalities, in 1914, the Heredia Cup for motor boats is instituted. This year Alberto Lavandeira is crowned Powerboat World Champion, representing the Clube Naval de Lisboa, in a competition organized by Sporting Club de Monte Carlo. It could be the first World title of Portuguese sport.

Also in 1914, the Clube Naval de Lisboa introduced water polo in Portugal and in swimming instituted several trophies:

- Silva Carvalho Cup for the award for crossing the Tagus in teams of six swimmers;

- Camões Swimming Cup for 500m events by teams of 5 swimmers (5x500);

- Henrique Maufray de Seixas Cup in 100m events by teams of 5 swimmers (5x100).

Added to these trophies in 1918 was the Easter Cup for 200m swimming events by teams and the Carlos Moura Cup for water polo.

Other clubs also germinated from the CNL and not only in the main sports of the club, rowing and sailing. From the swimming section, in 1919 a group of dissident members promoted the formation of a new club, the National Swimming Club.


Another significant fact that, along with the image still associated with the royal family, justifies the slowdown in nautical activities was World War I.


In view of the paucity of Portuguese naval resources, for the maritime defense of the ports, a force of auxiliary personnel was created, with militarized status, which included the members of the nautical clubs, who had at least the helmsman's license and the appropriate motor vessels.

For disciplinary and remuneration purposes, the following military graduations were established by equivalence:

- Marine Guard (Nautical club members with charter)

- Midshipman (Nautical club members with helmsman's license)

Ministry of the Navy, Decree No. 2375/1916. Creates a Section of Maritime Defense Auxiliaries, Government Gazette 1st Series, nº 88, May 8, 1916, pp. 407-408.

Ministry of the Navy, Decree No. 2876/1916. Reorganizes the services of the maritime defense auxiliaries section, Diário do Governo 1ª Série, nº 243, November 30, 1916, pp. 1109-1110.


From the twenties, there is some stabilization and the club returns to focus its activity on traditional sports, rowing and sailing, with emphasis on:

1922 - Clube Naval de Lisboa acquires the first Shell 8 boat in Portugal.

1924 - At the Olympic Games held in Paris, Portugal was represented for the first time in sailing by Frederico Burnay, who participated in the Monotipo 12ft class. It obtained an honorable 8th place (today it would be equivalent to an Olympic Diploma) among 17 participants.

Medal Olympic Games held in Paris, 1924

1925 - Clube Naval de Lisboa represents Portugal in the European Rowing Championship.

1928 - Frederico Burnay participates again in the Olympic Games, in Amsterdam, in the 6mt International Class, leading the Portuguese team, composed of a selection of sailors that included Charles Bleck, António Herédia, Ernesto Mendonça and João Penha Lopes. It should be noted that the medals for participating in the Olympic Games and identification cards were donated by Frederico Burnay to the Club.

1930 - António Herédia, a member of the Club, accompanied by Ernesto Mendonça, win the international regattas in Bordeaux, in the Star class, with a boat registered with the Club.

The end of the 1920s and beginning of the 1930s is marked by a new phase of institutional recognition for the club and by the continuity of the work developed with the teaching and promotion of rowing and sailing.

Institutionally stands out:

1928 - The Club receives the Medal of Praise from the Red Cross.

1931 - Clube Naval de Lisboa was awarded the Degree of Commander of the Order of Christ by the President of the Republic.

1931 - His Majesty George V of England and the President of the French Republic accept the positions of Honorary Commodore.

1932 - By decree of the 9th of January, the Clube Naval de Lisboa is recognized as an «institution of public utility».


1932 - Getúlio Vargas, President of Brazil and George VI, King of England, accept the position of Honorary Commodore.


In sporting terms, despite the maintenance of regular activity, throughout the 1930s several facts with an impact on the future of the club were witnessed.

From the outset, in 1931, the club was again forced to change premises, from this fair to Cais do Gás, where it remains and where it built the first swimming pool in Lisbon for teaching swimming.

It continued to promote the traditional Cascais regattas until 1938, the year in which its local section closed, after the Cascais Nautical Festivals held to commemorate the inauguration of the Fishermen's House in that village.


Thus came to an end a cycle of almost 30 years of presence of the Club in that village. Just two years earlier, in 1936, from the 23rd to the 30th of August, the CNL had promoted the 1st International Nautical Week in Cascais, with rowing, sailing and swimming events that had been a huge success, with the presence of athletes from France, Belgium and England.

In 1937, the social changes taking place in Portugal and the II World War in Europe did not allow for a repeat of success. The Club sought to repeat its success with the II International Week. However institutional issues did not allow to gather the necessary conditions.

The growing influence of the new state institutions, such as the Legião and Mocidade Portuguesa, with whom the Club did not maintain the best relations and by whom it was not well regarded, possibly due to its independence, had an important contribution.

It should be noted that in 1937, instead of a major international race as the Club had planned, an International Regatta was held between Mocidade Portuguesa and its German counterpart.

With great commitment and determination, the Club maintained its activity faithful to its founding principles, pursuing its goals. The 1940s, 1950s and 60s are characterized by the club's strong commitment to training. Annually the rowing and sailing training schools were crowded. It can be said that the CNL, long before its time, democratized access to sailing and rowing to the general population.

Symbolic was also the opening in 1944 of the first “school of Rowing Coaches in Portugal” seeking to deepen the technical knowledge that was dedicated to teaching the modality.

The club continues to organize various events and competitions and train nautas. In these years, the development of the fleet of Snipes and Sharpies 12 stands out. In 1959, the Soares de Oliveira brothers represented the Clube Naval de Lisboa and Portugal in the World Championship of the Snipe class.

In 1954, after evaluating the history of the club, through the British embassy in Portugal, Her British Majesty Queen Elizabeth II distinguished the Clube Naval de Lisboa, accepting the position of Honorary Commodore. A huge honor, knowing British traditions in this area.


The beginning of the 60s brings a new phase of great difficulties and crisis in the Clube Naval de Lisboa, in which existence and continuity are even called into question.

The 1964 Management Biennial Report states that the growth of the Club has stagnated. For this fact, according to a member of the assembly that approved the report, “Financial and Official support from the State to other entities, such as the Naval Brigade and the Nautical Section of Mocidade Portuguesa, to the detriment of institutions with a great and which have given so much to Portuguese social and sporting life and which could and should be counted on for the enhancement of National Nautical Sports”.

From the mid-1960s and into the 1970s, the Club took on a new dimension, with the construction, in 1965, of a rowing tank for 8 rowers at Cais do Gás, in an attempt to revive this section.

In sailing, the club maintains a strong focus on teaching and plays an important role in introducing new classes such as the 420, Vaurien and, although less expressive, the Moth and Fin classes, which, along with the Snipes, have a very significant activity.

During these years, also important was the facilitation of conditions by the club for its members to build boats. Until the 1990s, many small cruise ships were built at the club's facilities at Cais do Gaz.

In the 80s, in a new attempt to diversify the club's activity, a new gym was built and the weightlifting section was created again, with which the club won numerous titles and operated for over 20 years.

In the sailing section, the most significant fact was the introduction of the Optimist class, which allows the club to start training younger young people, from the age of 8, since the club's sailing school was geared towards practitioners from a slightly higher age.

There is also an intensification of the organization of regattas for the cruising classes, in response to the high growth of small sailboats that we are witnessing. In this area, the organization of regattas becomes a constant and the club promotes new types of races, for example, solo races and two-man races.

In the 1990s, the club started canoeing, first within the rowing section and then gaining autonomy in the modality with its own section. In sailing, light sailing training and competition are maintained, with special emphasis on the 420 and Laser classes.

The end of the century XX and the first decade of the century. XXI brought a new period of crisis, sporting and managerial, with a strong impact on the decrease in activity from which the club has been slowly recovering.

During this period, the club has been focusing its activities on leisure rowing and cruise sailing.

The Club, throughout these years, despite periods of greater turbulence, greater difficulties, greater or lesser expression, sporting and social, has maintained its guiding principle and sought to fulfill its purpose, honoring the memory of the founding members and all those who over time they served the club, which was so well defined in the statutes of 1940:

“...encouraging the construction of yachts or pleasure boats, developing the teaching of the art of sailing and rowing, developing the teaching of swimming and a taste for maritime entertainment and promoting and carrying out regattas and other nautical events… cooperation of his initiative to the very useful idea of creating sailing, rowing, swimming and motor schools, arts not only useful in a thousand eventualities of existence but also very important in physical education, indispensable to youth”.


© Text by partner Nuno Pereira

This text is part of the exhibition panels, with the history of the club, which can be visited in the warehouse, on the ground floor.



The Exhibition of the Portuguese World was an event that took place in 1940, in the Belém area, in Lisbon, during the Estado Novo regime, with the purpose of simultaneously commemorating the dates of the Foundation of the Portuguese State (1140) and the Restoration of Independence ( 1640).


The exhibition opened its doors, in the midst of World War II, on July 23, 1940, and was used by the regime as a great space for disseminating the country's history and also for propaganda of the Estado Novo.

It was visited by about 3 million people. Most were Portuguese, but many foreigners also passed through there, a large number of them war refugees.

It was an exhibition with several spaces dedicated to themes such as the history of Portugal, the colonies and ethnography.

To publicize the action of the Estado Novo, there was also a commercial and industrial district, a telecommunications pavilion and another for the railway.

Almost all of the buildings and monuments erected for the exhibition were demolished after it closed in December 1940. Today, the Museum of Popular Art building and Praça do Império still survive.

The Padrão dos Descobrimentos, in honor of Infante D. Henrique, was also born at that time, but as an ephemeral construction. Dismantled in 1958, it would be rebuilt, in concrete and stone, two years later, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Infante's death.

The structure of the exhibition was ensured by a group of architects, almost all of them with a modernist background, led by Cottinelli Telmo (direction and overall planning; author of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos in partnership with Leopoldo de Almeida and the Pavilhão dos Portugueses no Mundo). Among the 17 architects who worked on the set, Cristino da Silva stands out, author of the Pavilhão de Honra and Lisbon, according to José-Augusto França, “the best building in the exhibition – and perhaps the best work of Cristino da Silva’s maturity” .

The following participations by: Porfírio Pardal Monteiro (Pavilhão dos Descobrimentos); Carlos Ramos (Colonization Pavilion); Veloso Reis (Popular Life Pavilion); Jorge Segurado (Portuguese Villages centres); Raul Lino (Brazil Pavilion); Rodrigues Lima (3 historic pavilions: Foundation Pavilion, Formation and Conquest Pavilion and Independence Pavilion).


Among painters and sculptors, a total of 43 painters and 24 sculptors participated, including members of the team in charge of the Portuguese Pavilions at the International Fairs in Paris (1937), New York and San Francisco (1939): Fred Kradolfer, Bernardo Marques , Thomaz de Mello, Carlos Botelho, José Rocha, Emmerico Nunes, Paulo Ferreira, Almada Negreiros, Jorge Barradas, Lino António, Martins Barata, Manuel Lapa, Sarah Afonso, Estrela Faria, Clementina Carneiro de Moura, Mily Possoz.

Among the sculptors, Canto da Maia (group D. Manuel, Gama and Cabral; bas-relief on the facade of the Pavilhão de Honra and Lisbon) and Leopoldo de Almeida (statue of Sovereignty; statuary of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos), stand out. António da Costa, Barata Feyo, Ruy Gameiro, António Duarte, Martins Correia, João Fragoso and Raul Xavier.


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