Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron Official Opening of the 133rd Sailing Season
Ms Joan Pease MP; Mr Ross Vasta MP; Commodore Gallagher and Mrs Gallagher; other board members; Members, supporters and friends of this wonderfully uplifting Queensland institution. It is a great pleasure for me to be here at Manly, with Kaye, to join you at the opening of another RQYS sailing season.
This is the Squadron’s 133rd season, and that venerable number tells us all, club members and outsiders alike, about the impressive longevity of this organisation.
Indeed, the Squadron is so long in the tooth – in the best possible way – that its earliest sailors competed in inter-colonial, not yet inter-State sailing events, a decade prior to Australian Federation in 1901.
Around the time of the Squadron’s formation as the Brisbane Sailing Club in 1885, sailing ships were still important means of transport and communication, linking Australian coastal cities with one another, and with overseas ports.
At that time, there were probably more people familiar with sailing terms. Even these days, we use nautical terms in everyday speech – including common phrases such as ‘to the bitter end’ – though we are not always conscious of the origins of these words.
But, common phrases apart, much of the terminology that serious sailors use sounds like a foreign language to many Australians.
Armchair sailors who watch the magnificent spectacle of the start of the Sydney-Hobart race would have little difficulty with ‘mast’ and ‘spinnaker’, ‘bow’ and ‘stern’, and possibly ‘port’ and ‘starboard’.
Generally, though, a non-sailor would be at a loss to identify a ‘boom vang’, or explain the difference between running and standing rigging.
Of course, this ‘language’ is second nature to the brotherhood and sisterhood of sailing.
It comes readily to those who wish to pit themselves and their boats against the sometimes perilous and unpredictable forces of nature – wind, wave and inconvenient bits of land, whether above or below water.
It is, in short, the nautical dialect of those who love the adventure, the challenge, the freedom and the exhilaration of being out on the water.
It is certainly the second language of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, which plays a crucial role in providing the infrastructure, the organisation, the training and the youth programs that help keep the tradition of sailing and cruising in Queensland alive and well.
And it is a language familiar to those who have brought honour to the Squadron’s name and reputation through ‘golden’ success at the Olympics, success at world and national championships, and participation in iconic events including the America’s Cup and Admiral’s Cup.
This nautical sporting success and the sheer joy of sailing have been nurtured here at the RQYS for many decades.
Generation after generation of young sailors – I believe there are some members who represent a fourth generation of family membership – have learned about responsibility, adaptability, determination and an appreciation of tactics from the Squadron’s trainers and mentors.
No doubt the language of sailing – and I mean the kind that can be used in polite company – is passed on too.
As Governor and Patron, I congratulate the RQYS on this wonderful record, now spanning well over a century. I wish the Squadron every success in the future.
I thank the Squadron’s Flag Officers, executive, staff and much-appreciated volunteers for all their hard work in preparing for the new season. I thank them also for their dedication to the Squadron, and their encouragement of the joys of sailing and cruising.
I wish all Squadron members, whatever their level of experience and ambition, a safe, enjoyable, and successful sailing season.
And it is with the greatest of pleasure that I now declare the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s 133rd sailing season officially open. Thank you.