East Coast Youth Leadership Challenge
Past Rotary District Governor, Mr Chris Wright; Rotary Club of Sunnybank President, Mr Peter Zhuang; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend my respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
I’m pleased to pick up where my counterpart in Hobart, Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, launched this journey, at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania one month ago.
It’s a journey of great significance to the young people who will be sailing the magnificent STV Windeward Bound from Hobart to Brisbane and beyond, along Australia’s east coast, in a voyage of self-discovery and self-reliance.
The Windeward Bound Rotary Youth East Coast Youth Leadership Challenge will see these young people overcome many obstacles, not least those that teenagers typically encounter.
It should be noted that while all young people are encouraged to apply for an onboard traineeship, the program is aimed especially those at those living in regional, rural or remote areas, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander youths and those from culturally or otherwise diverse backgrounds.
There will be spectacular scenery and fun along the way, but this will be no holiday. The work of a sailor can be wet and wearisome, and potentially perilous.
These young sailors will have only the resources available on board, and each other, to rely on.
Their meals, their comfort, their personal safety, are in their own hands and those of fellow crewmembers.
There will be tears, there will be fatigue, there will be discomfort.
There will also be laughter, friendship, the telling of tall tales and true, and, hopefully, an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment at the end.
It will be that once in a lifetime experience which everything, in the foreseeable future at least, will be measured.
It’s worth remembering that this is also a journey that dates back to 1965, when a young Royal Australian Navy sailor watched the trading ship New Endeavour sail into Sydney from England and dreamt of one day building a similar vessel to be based here.
Years later, using plans from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, several tonnes of Tassie Eucalypt and Huon Pine, and the fundraising power of two Rotary Clubs and over 250 volunteers – many of them at-risk youths – the dream was realised.
In 1996, the 33-metre brigantine Windeward Bound was launched, and since then she has covered more than 100,000 nautical miles.
Many of these journeys have trained young people in the finer points of sailing an 18th century ‘Tall Ship’.
Although as Captain Sarah Parry AM has said: “We do not teach them to Sail, we teach them about themselves.”
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Captain Parry for her continuing contributions to this endeavour, and the sponsors who have made it possible for so many young people be part of this event.
I would also like to thank the host organisation Rotary Club of Sunnybank, and to thank and congratulate all Rotarians on the organisation’s upcoming centenary.
It is wonderful that when we mark '100 Years of Rotary in Queensland' next year, the Windeward Bound be in our State’s waters.
And so, it gives me great pleasure to formally launch the 2023 East Coast Youth Leadership Challenge here in Queensland. I wish you fair winds and following seas!