Welcome to this edition of Southern Cross Yachting ENews.
The supermarket shelves are groaning under the weight of chocolate eggs and bunnies and this means that one of the most important events in the Christian calendar is almost upon us. Yes in 4 days time the 64th annual Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race will begin and after a 3 year absence from ‘the great race’ Oceans will again be on the start line.
And as we sail up the Harbour approaching the beautiful city of Gladstone (the jewel of the mid north) we will be sailing into a different kind of storm this year. You see for the last 63 years the venue for the after race celebrations has been the Port Curtis Sailing Club as indeed it will be again this year, but perhaps, for the last time. The PCSC clubhouse is a lovely old timber building sitting as it does only metres from the tranquil waters of Auckland Creek, in the heart of that fair city. It has been the cultural hub of the town for a long time. But as you are all no doubt aware, there are big things happening in Gladstone and the Port Authority that owns the land that the club sits on wants to knock it down and redevelop the property, leaving the club homeless. Now who could blame the Port Authority – after all this is a prime water front position and the people of Noosa, the Gold coast and Port Douglas must be choking on their lattés s at the thought of what this development will do to their investments! Gladstone is clearly the next big, thing but the loss of this sailing icon will bring a nostalgic tear to the eye of many a Gladstone race participant. Now it is not so much the building itself that we will mourn the loss of but the memories that it contains. Yacht club buildings are changing – anyone who has seen the Hamilton Island YC’s astounding erection will agree. The HIYC is a truly remarkable structure. Apparently its design was ‘inspired’ by the manta ray. It sits on the hill over looking Dent Passage but it has no ‘soul’. Indeed perhaps a sole would have made better inspiration than a manta ray. At least it would have all been on one level. Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne has just spent about 10 billion dollars building a huge shiny new clubhouse the size of a TAFE college, but, in my opinion, it has the atmosphere of a dentist waiting room.
Yacht clubs should be old timber buildings. They should have dusty timber honour boards with long dead trophy winner’s names listed in gold paint. The walls should feature a collection of faded burgees from other clubs and framed photos of old boats being sailed by people who themselves are now very old. Serious looking men with sideburns and bad moustaches should stare sternly down from their portraits. It should have windows and fans instead of air-con and wide verandahs over looking the water. It should not be all chrome and glass bricks, with private lounges and members libraries. The carpet should be worn and the bar staff should be old enough to call you ‘love’ when serving you. But it is the memories that you can not replace. The old Port Curtis Sailing Club has played host to 3 generations of sailors who have laughed, relaxed and re-lived great moments from the race using bread rolls as boats and salt shakers as committee boats. Stories have been retold over and over, growing in stature each year until they become legendary or even true! Lies are told, old friendships are reignited, great shenanigins from the past are relived and glasses are raised to departed mates. This is the true heart of a yacht club.
We can only hope that common sense prevails and that this historic building remains and remains just as it is. I want to stand on that very verandah one day in the future enjoying a beer with my sons as we celebrate the victory in the great race that ‘the King’ assures me is inevitable! For those of you who want to follow Southern Cross Yachting’s progress in this year’s race, go to the QCYC website and watch the trackers. Find ‘Lahana’, ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Blackjacks’ positions then scroll a long way back down the coast until you find us!
To all of our students competing we wish you all a safe and enjoyable race and I look forward to catching up with you on the verandah when we get there.
Until next time may the south easterly continue,