Official Opening of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s 136th Sailing Season
Cr Atwood, representing the Lord Mayor; Member for Lytton, Ms Joan Pease MP; Commander Savvakis; Commodore, Captain Cuneo and fellow Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron Board members; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
It is always a great pleasure to be at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron looking out over Moreton Bay, and I thank the Commodore for making us feel even more ‘at home’ with his warm welcome.
At the launch of last year’s season, none of us expected we would find ourselves some months later in the middle of a global pandemic. Or that the impact of COVID-19 would be so pervasive and invasive, affecting the lives of everyone in the State in one way or another.
We could say that we have been ‘taken aback’, that we have worked hard to ‘fend off’ the virus by ‘battening down the hatches’, and are ‘staying the course’ in order to end up back on an ‘even keel’. All of which goes to prove yet again that nautical terms are alive and well in our everyday speech.
The sailing community in general, and the Squadron in particular, have inevitably felt the impact of COVID-related restrictions.
Some of the Squadron’s events towards the end of the last sailing season had to be cancelled. The operations of the Sailing Academy had to be suspended. Some celebrations such as the welcome to new Squadron members went ‘by the board’, for the moment at least.
Despite these setbacks, the Squadron’s annual cycle of activities is now re-emerging, albeit in different formats at times, and that is great news.
I was pleased to learn that the Squadron’s 2020 Brisbane to Keppel Tropical Yacht Race was the first offshore race in Australia after restrictions were eased. Congratulations!
And that regattas including the Finn Class Queensland Championship and Youth Week were able to be held after the easing of restrictions – along with the welcome resumption of hospitality services.
Nevertheless, I know from experience that managing COVID impacts is anything but a simple task.
In March, we at Government House also had to suspend or defer important activities and substantially adapt others.
We recommenced regional visits and receptions only in June. Ceremonies at Government House for the presentation of Order of Australia awards have also recommenced, though they are now individual ceremonies rather than large group investitures.
Like the Squadron, we have employed our online presence to maintain outreach and commemorate important community events.
And throughout the period of restrictions I have ensured that my constitutional duties have continued uninterrupted.
For these reasons, I appreciate the substantial amount of hard work involved to maintain an organisation like the Squadron even while it was, so to speak, in ‘dry dock’, and to keep it seaworthy for the coming sailing season.
On that account, I thank the Commodore, Captain Barry Cuneo, his supporting office-holders, Committee Members, RQYS staff and members and the Squadron’s sponsors for keeping this venerable ‘ship’ afloat through some unanticipated heavy weather.
None of us can predict what will happen in the next year and more. However, let us look forward to the Squadron’s new sailing season with a sailor’s optimism.
This year, let us take the traditional Fleet Sail Past as a symbol of the resilience of the Squadron and the promise of better times ‘in the offing’.
On that positive note, it is my great pleasure to declare the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s 136th sailing season open, and to wish the Squadron every success this season and into the future.