The Royal Malta Sailing Club has been forced to operate out of shipping containers after it was evicted from a lido at Ta’ Xbiex.

Talks to delay a court-ordered eviction or find the club a new home have so far failed to yield any solution, leading the club to resort to a temporary solution to continue to provide its services to members. 

While the shipping containers it is now using to store equipment have allowed it to remain operational, there is significant concern within the boating community about the impact the situation will have on Malta’s reputation as an international sailing destination. 

The RMYC runs a sailing school and has historically also hosted several high-level athletes who use Malta as a base during the winter months to further their training. It is also key in hosting major international events such as the Middle Sea Race. 

The situation stems from a government decision in 2009 to expropriate land on the Ta’ Xbiex from the Malta Playing Fields Association and hand it to the yacht club for a 49-year period.

The Ta' Xbiex lido that the club has been evicted from. Photo: Chris Sant FournierThe Ta' Xbiex lido that the club has been evicted from. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The intention was to rehouse the yacht club, which was forced out of its historic home on Manoel Island following a government decision to sign over that land to private consortium Midi for development. 

But in 2014, a court concluded that the Ta’ Xbiex expropriation was illegal, casting doubt on the yacht club’s long-term future at the site. An appeals court confirmed that verdict late last year and gave the club until December 13 to clear the area. 

In a letter sent to its members on Saturday, the yacht club said that it would continue to do all it could to continue its sailing school operations while trying to find a long-term solution to the problem. 

It noted that Malta will be hosting a major international sailing competition, the ORC European Championships, this coming spring. The situation the club is currently in “has tarnished the reputation of not just the club but of Malta as a host country for such events,” the club said. 

A recent study concluded that the Middle Sea Race alone contributes around €5 million to the country’s economy, the club argued, with a further €2.6 million worth of promotion to Malta.  Apart from its struggle to find itself a new home, the yacht club must also contend with a civil lawsuit filed by the Malta Playing Fields Association, which is seeking compensation from the club for its forced eviction back in 2009. 

As part of that lawsuit, the MPFA obtained a massive €350,000 garnishee order against the yacht club. The club says that it has approached the MPFA in the hope of reaching a mutually beneficial solution, but despite its best efforts and those of various ministries, “these discussions never materialised.”  

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