Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron Opening of the 130th Yachting Season
Kaye and I are delighted to join you at this splendid location in Manly for the launch of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s new yachting season. As some of you know, this is not the first time I have stepped into this role. It is, however, the first time I have done the honours as Governor, and, indeed, since accepting the generous offer to be the Squadron’s Patron.
Sailing has a long and fascinating history. On the grandest of scales, historians tell us that sailing contributed to the rise and fall of civilisations and empires. On the more modest end of the scale, sailing has enriched the language we use every day. Setting aside the shorter Anglo-Saxon words heard occasionally on a boat deck, I am sure we would be hard-pressed to do without phrases like “by and large”, “above board” and even: “He’s under the weather so give him some leeway”.
But of most interest today is that, at whatever point in the history of sailing, some bright spark realised that you didn’t need a practical reason to be out on the water. Sailing could be a pleasurable pursuit in its own right – and a highly addictive one at that.
It is this tradition of recreational yachting that, in 2014, the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron carries into season number one hundred and thirty. And, looking out towards the water, I can readily identify some of the reasons for the Squadron’s success and longevity.
Though our vast and wonderful State is not completely “girt by sea”, its waters wash more than thirteen thousand kilometres of coastline, including the State’s many islands. And what a coastline! We boast some of the world’s most beautiful waters and one of the world’s greatest attractions – and challenges – to mariners, the Great Barrier Reef.
The Squadron’s home waters of Moreton Bay have their own attractions, including the options of running aground on mud, sand or rock – which reminds me of writer and sailor Don Bamford’s claim that only two people he knew said they had never run aground: the first always stayed in port and the second was “an atrocious liar”.
More seriously, these waters offer a wide variety of conditions for sailors at all levels of skill and experience, from the relatively protected waters of the Bay to real blue-water sailing conditions outside the string of islands that shelter it.
While I can claim only modest experience of sailing – fairly inadequately manoeuvring a “moth” in my teenage years – I certainly understand the attraction of being relieved of at least some of the cares of everyday life and feeling the exhilaration of pitting your skills against wind, wave and tide.
This Squadron now provides the base for more than three thousand members to seek that exhilaration, in craft ranging from dinghies to ocean-going boats, and its excellent facilities make it a lively social hub for “off-water” activities.
The Squadron also has a proud history of producing world-class sailors and of teaching successive generations about the joys of sailing and the responsibilities that come with it. I thank the Squadron’s Flag Officers, executive, staff and sponsors for their on-going hard work and commitment to maintaining the Squadron’s reputation as the envy of other sailing clubs in Australia.
Whether Squadron members are weekend sailors or the kind of tragics who think that “Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit”, I wish them all safe and joyful sailing. And it is with great pleasure that I now declare officially open the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s one hundred and thirtieth yachting season. Thank you.