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50 Years of the club’s Brisbane to Gladstone Race

By Barb and Jim Stubbings

Next  year, 2014, will be an especially historical year for the MYCQ as It will be 50 years since the first multihulls raced from Brisbane to Gladstone.

As an important introductory event to the 50thBrisbane to Gladstone Multihull Race in 2014 the club held an Old Salts Lunch to honour the Life Members, previous Race Winners and Commodores of the club and celebrate the history of the forming of the old QMYC and the race itself.

It was a wonderful occasion with 115 guests in attendance. The clubhouse was decorated with great displays of memorabilia. Club members dug deep into their archives and Peter Garden found some of the original posters for the Keppel to Cairns race. Kate and Trevor Dellit put a great display of posters, flags, newspaper clippings and a display of old T-shirts from the early days from the QMYC. Trevor also kindly supplied and set up the public address system and Phil Day set up the video system with the able assistance of hard working club member John Hamaty. Our archive officer put up displays of old magazines as well as photo albums. Two very old folders of newspaper articles and other early club information that were prepared by Harvey Raven were also on display. 

 There were also a number of DVDs and videos running during the day showing lots of history. An especially interesting one was the launching of Commodore’s Bruce Wieland’s current trimaran Shanda that was originally designed and built by Shawn Arber for He and Yolanda to live on for a time before being entered in many club bay and ocean races.

People travelled a long way to attend – Harvey Raven from Monkey Mia, Rob Remilton from SA, Martin Riley from Melbourne, John Cadwallander from Airlie Beach and Gordon and Rosemary Meyers from Biloela. Don and Janice deserve a special mention as they drove from WA in a couple of days just to be at the luncheon. Both Don and Janice were extremely keen competitors in any club race they entered and Don had a great deal to do with developing the handicap system we use today. We must also thank Janice for the wonderful years of service she did in preparing much of the archives that all club members enjoy today.

Ten of the fourteen existing life members were present with perhaps a unique part of the club history as Chas Drew who was the first Commodore with later Commodores Brian Willey, Leigh Wynne & Paul Herzig. These gentlemen formed the basis for the original club which also included Harvey Raven as a signatory to the club constitution. There were also 15 past Commodores present as well as a numbers of other executive members.

There was a great attendance from past winners of the race among them being John Hitch, Syd Luxford and Martin Riley to name but a few. There were 10 winners on Line Honours, 18 on OMR and 12 on PCF present. The day began with a welcome from Commodore Bruce Wieland and then he handed over to the MC for the day, Geoff Cruse.

Geoff introduced Chas Drew who  spoke about the early days of multihull sailing and the formation of the club. The first race was in 1964 with the multis racing under the QCYC and Line honours and Handicap honours went to Hedley Nicol in Vagabond, a 35ft trimaran. Chas spoke about the tussles that were had with RQ and how they were not allowed to race with them. Brian Willey spoke of the early Brisbane to Gladstone races and the various handicap rules they raced under and Syd Luxford also spoke about early racing. It is a matter of record that Brian and his crew on both Naiad and Captain Bligh successfully completed a total of 17 Brisbane to Gladstone races; quite a record!!!

Myf Fraser, the late Peter Fraser’s wife, spoke of a wife’s perspective of sailing and the good times they had as a family and the great lessons children learn as they grow up learning to sail.

Life Members were presented with a Special Plaque and Badge by the Commodore on behalf of the club as a token of appreciation. The Commodore also did a roll call of all the past commodores and raced winners both on Elapsed time and handicap.

After the formal part of the event MC Geoff Cruse opened the floor to anyone wishing to make a contribution to the festivities and the speeches came thick and fast. One of the main contributors was previous Commodore and co-owner of Pumpkin Eater owner builder, Peter Garden, initially said what a privilege it was to be trained and sail on Brian Willey’s original trimaran Naiad and subsequently on his Lock Crowther Kracken 40, Captain Bligh.

Peter related how the Gladstone people were most generous hosts and took a whole boat crew back to their homes and allowed them to have a shower  and a good feed plus even putting them up in certain instances. In appreciation for their hospitality on the following Monday each boat crew would take the host family out on Gladstone Harbour for a sailing day out.  Other comments by Peter related to how other members of the crew namely Harvey Raven and Dave Gemmell who were purported to keep salacious magazines under their bunks where as the clean living PJ only had plans and dreamt about the next 36 ft Lock Crowther cat. In addition these two aforementioned gentlemen were known to try and entice the young and innocent PJ Garden to places of ill repute in the Valley. This was hotly denied by the said aforementioned gentlemen in that they were very much the up market places of ill repute in the City!!!!

Many other guests related their sailing experiences with the club including some comments about some questionable tricks played on race competitors during a race where a certain skipper trying to pass another competitor would stoop to such dastardly deeds as throwing a small stainless steel nut on the competitor’s deck making him think that something was wrong with his rig and while his concentration was elsewhere in searching for the no existent trouble the evil competitor would slip by and gain the upper hand.

Geoff Toomey and John Nolan gave glowing comments about their times with the rest of the crew on Gold Rush during the hay days of their racing activities.

One of the club stalwarts Bill Withers sailed his venerable cat Marapi in many club events including winning the Old Salts cruising trophy on a number of occasions. Bill was proud to announce that he did 12 Brisbane to Gladstone straight and caught more fish than anyone else. He put his successful sailing down to the fact that he always had two ladies on board as crew. ( It is understood that Bill has now retired to a retirement resort near the Gold Coast where I have it on good authority that 80% of the other retirees in this resort are single ladies!!! So when are we going to go sailing again Bill ???)

Martin Riley told the history of his involvement in multihull racing in that he originally owned a Castle 650 monohull called Raw Nerve and cruised with his friends and family. He then caught the multihull bug and phoned Brett Crowther to design  him a hot cat that would clean up the Brisbane to Gladstone Race and so the famous Crowther cat Raw Nerve was created and  the history of Raw Nerve successes in the Brisbane to Gladstone race was borne. Martin admitted he had been out of the scene recently but he felt the ocean racing urge coming back so who knows what he will be up to in the next year or two.

MC Geoff Cruse then invited Guest speaker Shawn Jackson to make his presentation.

Shawn had just come back for watching the Americas Cup and the first thing that impressed him was the freedom that the general public were given to watch the whole event. Being a member of the press he was also granted many privileges to be able to watch the races at close range including going out on one of the chase boats which was very impressive.

He showed many action shots of both Oracle and New Zealand and explained in his opinion why the American boat eventually became successful although there is much conjecture on the whole event. His main view was that basically Oracle was the faster boat and only needed to be sailed properly to win. There was a change in the Oracle crew which helped, but the main change was that the Oracle team went back and studied all the videos and learnt where they were going wrong and then put what they had learnt into practice which resulted in them winning the cup. Asked what he thought the next Americas Cup would be raced in? In his opinion he thought that a slightly smaller multihull would be used to race and there could be a different set of races and events leading up to the main event.

MC Geoff Cruse then left but encouraged the ‘Salts” both Young and Old to continue on until the party broke up much later in the day.

 

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