Pond yachts are model wooden sailboats and were popularised by small clubs in London in the 19th and 20thC. Racing was often intense, and large sums were often wagered in some locales.
At the height of their popularity in the United States (in the 1920s - 1940s) they were a common sight in public parks. The yachts had class (size) ratings and were raced in international competitions, including the 1936 Olympics.
By the late 1880s the sport was in full swing, principally in the New York City area. There were three clubs there, and they formed the first sanctioning body for interclub races in the United States: the Model Yacht Racing Union of North America. This organization died out, and a national group was not formed again until the early 1920s. The boats of this period were sailed from small, one-man skiffs on large bodies of water. The predominant classes were quite large and heavily canvasssed; a typical boat could be six feet in overall length and carry 2200 square inches of sail on a twenty pound displacement hull. Although the boats raced at the same time, the race was actually against the clock; the skippers pursued their models in the skiffs, and a penalty was assessed for each time you touched your boat to adjust its trim or course. Collisions, fouls, and protests were common.
Pond yachts have a rich history of colorful designers and builders and equally impressive small boats and by the 1860's there were occasional international contests between model yachtsmen in Great Britain and those in the United States.