Travelling through time #TogetherWithRFBYC

Travelling through time #TogetherWithRFBYC

Feeling a little bit nostalgic on a Tuesday while we all stay at home to keep our community well during the COVID-19 situation. Let's take a look back at times when our members travelled around the world and across our nations borders. 

The Cadet dinghy has a rich history with RFBYC and there is even one proudly displayed in the main entrance foyer of the Clubhouse. 


The Cadet was established at the Club largely through the initiative of Len Glaskin (Commodore 1929-31 and 1937-40). The first Cadet at RFBYC was "Magic" owned by the Oliver Family in the 1920's and sold to Royal Perth Yacht Club as "Cimba" in 1932. They first sailed as a class at RFBYC on Opening Day 9 October 1938. A year later there was a fleet of nine. A regular program of races was maintained during the war years, indeed with a few cruisers sailed by members too old for war service it was virtually the only activity of the Club. 

Cadet image above: "Cadets pioneered Club interstate competition. The star of the Stonehaven in Hobart, 1948. 'Philante', 9, (Stephen Parker) leading 'Ione', 19, (Ian Johnston).

These days it is quite common to see women competing equally in the sport of sailing but it was as late as 1968 that the question of allowing full membership of the Club for the ladies was being discussed. As well as world changes, one of the contributing factors for RFBYC was that the number of girls that had been racing as Junior members of the Club, and very successfully too, would have to leave when they turned 21. "a watershed was reached when Stephen Parker at a Club General Committee meeting in November 1968 raised the question of Jill Craig. As a junior skipper, because of her age she would have to join another Club in order to represent the State in the forthcoming Australian Cherub Championships/" "This precipitated at last a decisive move. Women coiuld become full members. To the surprise of some, the world did not collapse."

Junior Girls Image above: "Pioneers. Junior members heading for the U.K 1984. L to R: Roslyn Merry, Tracy Clifford, Gillian Ray, Fiona Rigg, Amanda Cook."

One design classes with strong management and comprehensive class rules allowed for chartering of local boats for competitions. This helped to establish interstate and international club connections and made it easier for members to travel to regattas around the world. Through the Etchells fleet, a bi-annual six boat three way team regatta began in 1985 between Hong Kong, the Pittwater fleet in NSW and the Swan River fleet. "The initial six who flew up with crews, wives and sails were Chris Hardy, Michael Ahern, Tony Manford, Ray Kelt, Brian Lewis and Syd Corser. They competed in the November Pacific Area championships, then the Opium Pipe teams race. Subsequent Opium Pipe regattas have been held also at Pittwater and Freshwater Bay. 

A similar team racing match began in 1990, with crews from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes competing on the Swan River. A return match on the Solent in 1992 sailing in Darings was followed by a 1995 regatta, again on ther Swan in Etchells."

Team image above: "Cowes, June 15-19, 1992. L to R Back: Lyndon Kanther, Grant Betts, David Arnold, Adrian Dolin, Tony Parker, Jervis Tilly, John Baron-Hay, Hugh Agnew. Front: Ray Kelt, Gordon White, Stephen Parker, Bun Lynn, Ron Packer, Murray Johnson, Philippa Packer."


Of course we couldn't mention travel without JESS, the concept of Huck Scott. He was the Club's coaching coordinator with a special commitment to establishing a focused program for the Juniors. "The initial capital cost of $24,000 was donated by generous Club members including S.Corser, A.Eldrid, K.Graham, R.Black, R.Scott-Murphy, L.Connell, J.Baron-Hay, J.Longley and the Packer Family." Three 420 class yachts and a trailer were purchased, to be left in Europe and each year six sailors were selected to participate in a local training program prior to travelling together to compete in international regattas. 

Huck Scott's plan outlined an opportunity to embark on a journey that would provide them with not only an enjoyable experience but an environment to develop valuable personal skills and make lifelong friends. From 1988 until 2016 around 160 young sailors participated in JESS. "The JESS experience is demanding on the sailors, clubs, parents and team leaders, but the rewards are rich. The experience for the sailors is a once in a lifetime event."

Group image 1 – "Our first JESS Group, 1988. L to R: Paul Eldrid, Paul Begley, Robert Cruise, Huck Scott, John Corser, Andrew Jordan, Gavin Graham."

The 2014 JESS team was made up of 3 female skippers with 3 male crews (Bree, Dave, S.Ghent (coach/manager), Emilia, Andrew, Kieran, Hayley)

The final tour in 2016 was all female (Holly, Kaiella, Laura, D.Mann (coach), Farrah, Sarah, Sophie, M.Skinner (manager).

In 1996 it was written that "The Junior Club is a hive of activity with nearly 200 members. Strong fleets involving a number of classes sail a regular Sunday program as well as interstate and overseas. A unique scholarship scheme each year sends youngsters, both boys and girls, to Europe for six weeks of high level competitive sailing."

Members of Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club continue to travel for competition and to enjoy the camaraderie of regattas interstate and overseas, but not just at the moment. When travel opens up again, follow their adventures through the club blog, emails and on social media #rfbycCompetes. 

While in a lockdown type situation, the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club history book 1896-1996 by Ken Tregonning is an interesting source of historical Club information. The book is given as a gift to our new members when they are introduced at a New Members' Night, a kind of initiation ceremony to welcome our newest members to the Club and an important tradition. 

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