February 12 - 18, 2012: Issue 45


 A Time to Celebrate
By Robyn McWilliam

Flutes of champers and orange juice were passed around to members. Cappuccinos were available at the bistro. Staff circled with laden platters: Aussie sausage rolls, corn vol-au- vents, crumbed fish and scrambled egg rolls. A cacophony of chatter resounded around the covered courtyard at the Royal Motor Yacht Club.

Our celebratory brunch began at 9.30 am long after many Australia Day Breakfasts had dismal starts this year with grey skies and spattering rain. Karen Baldwin, General Manager for the last four years, led the formalities. Behind her hung a huge club burgee alongside the Australian flag. Enjoyment in her position is obvious in her ever-present smile.

Firstly, twenty two long serving members were honoured. Some had been part of the club for over fifty years. Anecdotes, they provided on why they joined and what they loved most about the club, featured. While involvement in activities of fishing, cruising or sailing rated highly, the overwhelming sentiment expressed was the joy of friendship.

Karen praised the great team of people who look after the club’s operation, from bar and catering staff to the marina team. Doug Taylor, Assistant Marina Manager, took out Employee of the Year. The club’s efforts to provide the best of facilities on Pittwater were rewarded with Marina of the Year 2011 in the club category.

Bronwyn Bishop MP finished with her usual thoughtful speech, a reminder to celebrate our life in Australia and its values. People then headed to a variety of vessels for the boat parade on Pittwater. The rain had stopped. Our sailing crowd were happy to be on a cruiser as we motored to assemble off Stokes Point. In a last shower enormous rain drops pockmarked the khaki coloured water.

Boats, decked out with flags, provided a vibrant display. Triangles of crimson, yellow and navy swept up forestays to the mast top then down the backstay. A prize for the best-dressed crew encouraged creativity. On one yacht amidst the Aussie flags, I saw witches and ghouls. Perhaps the most innovative this year was a cruiser labelled RMYC SLSC. The whole crew was dressed in the recognisable red and yellow surf lifesaving apparel with the kids on the bow displaying the rescue reel. Tied to each side of the stern were grey blow-up sharks.

The fleet motored back towards RMYC passing around the official vessel, MV Theresa, for judging. The yacht Leeuwin with its cricket theme took out the prize.
For most after the parade it was back to the club to be entertained by a band. For some sailors it was back out on the water for the inaugural Australia Day Regatta, a teams’ race with a 2 pm start.

The rain cleared to a steamy afternoon. In a light nor-easterly breeze, chasing every puff of wind coming over the hills, it took our yacht, Red Red Wine just under an hour and a half to complete the course. The winning team was Outlandish and Benny, a combination of the fastest and slowest boat in the fleet.

What an Australia Day! Spending most of it on boats. I always say, “Someone has to do it.” And surely there’s no better place than Pittwater.

Words and Images Copyright Robyn McWilliam, 2012. All Rights Reserved.

MV Theresa with judges, including Karen, on board.