August 6 - 12, 2017: Issue 324

Pittwater Yachting Legend: Jack Gale

Jack Gale at 2017 Old Timers Race on Pittwater - photo courtesy RPAYC

Pittwater Yachting Legend Passes

1926- 2017

Pittwater Yachting Legend

Yachting on Pittwater and Sydney has lost a pioneer with the recent death of Jack Gale at the age of 91. Coincidentally, Jack died exactly two years after his beloved wife, Joan. Jack is survived by his two sons Geoff and Rob.

The youngest of five children, Jack had an idyllic childhood growing up in North Narrabeen and it was at this time he developed his love of the water. Following his education Jack was employed as a telegraph operator. He enlisted during WWII at the age of eighteen and was posted to the Z force in communications.

Following his war service, Jack worked as a delivery driver until 1956 when he accepted a position as caretaker and boatyard manager at The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (Pittwater Division). At that time the Club facilities at Pittwater were quite basic, consisting of a boatshed, rudimentary slipway and the two bedroom cottage which the Club erected for Jack, Joan and their young son Geoff to occupy.

Jack was dedicated to the Club, taking part enthusiastically, methodically and comprehensively in the many and varied building programmes and other projects which shaped the current wonderful facilities enjoyed to-day by The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

Over the years Jack held many positions with the Club including Boatyard Manager, Yachting Secretary and, ultimately, Secretary/Manager.

It was during his years as Yachting Manager that Jack achieved a reputation not first in Sydney but in Australia and world-wide as an innovative, dedicated and skillful yacht race manager and administrator.

Jack pioneered the use of what became known as the Barrenjoey Circle racecourse which gained a reputation for its challenging sea conditions, its fair winds, and relative lack of tidal influence. A winning crew on the Barrenjoey Circle could justly be proud of their efforts!!

Jack's skill and competence as a race manager resulted in the Club gaining a stellar reputation for conducting yachting championships. Assisted by his wonderful team, Jack and the Club conducted many World, Australian and State Championships on "the Circle" in 5.5's, Solings, E22's, 6 metres and other classes.

In addition, Jack conducted the Club's busy schedule of inshore and offshore yachting. It was not unusual for Jack to start an offshore race at 8.00pm on a Friday night and then be out laying the offshore marks for the Saturday events at 6.00am.

Prior to his assuming the position of Yachting Manager Jack sailed with the late Tony Carr in the 5.5 "Altair", finishing runner up to Sir William Northam in the 1964 Olympic Trials. Jack also sailed several Montague Island races on various boats but he never professed a love for offshore sailing, preferring one design racing.

Jack also sailed aboard Gretel II in the 1977 Americas Cup challenger trials. He had previously commentated on radio at earlier Americas Cup events and did so again in 1983 at which time he resumed his on-air rivalry with American Yachting commentator Norrie Hoyt. Their on-air banter was legendary for its critical insights and humour.

After retiring from The RPAYC in 1988, Jack continued running RPAYC races and regattas as the Club's race officer and in 1994 was made a Life Member of the Club. In 2014 the Club named its new training facility The Jack Gale Centre, in honour of Jack and the significant contributions he made to the Club and the sport on Pittwater.

 Jack Gale cutting the ribbon.

 Jack Gale Centre Plaque.

Jack enjoyed life, especially yacht racing and golf. He possessed a wonderful sense of humour and was a great raconteur with an encyclopaedic knowledge of sail numbers, yachts, their skippers and crews.

Jack and Joan were extremely hospitable and visitors to their home were genuinely most welcome. Following Joan's passing Jack liked nothing better than providing advice to anyone who asked provided that he could indulge in a glass of his favourite Sauvignon Blanc.

He will be sadly missed by The RPAYC, its members, the entire yachting community and all those who remember him.

Obituary for Jack Gale written by Peter Kennett.

Hit The Road Jack – Sailing Royalty Farewells Its King

16 September 2017
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, farewelled one of Pittwater & Sydney’s all-time great sailors and much loved Club Life Member, Jack Gale, on Thursday 14th September 2017.

With close to 400 people in attendance, including America’s Cup Skipper, James Spithill, Paralympian Colin Beashel and multiple Americas Cup & World Champions, stories of Jack’s colourful life were in abundance, reflected by all who spoke. 
From his energy for the continuous modernisation of the Club and its facilities, to Tom Spithill’s recollection of their time together on the start boat and Jack’s astonishing sense of humour who never held back on speaking his mind. Tom said Jack was a great one for statistics, even in his last few weeks was always able to recall sail numbers, owners’ names, as well as an extensive knowledge of the history of boats, and even skippers and crew, who had sailed them.  Jack’s sons Robbie and Geoff spoke of their dad’s love of sailing and especially his love of the Club, and of course, his favourite drink – the Alfred’s Commodore’s Punch, which was available after the service for all to enjoy.

Having held many differing jobs at the Club, Jack became well known for his yacht race management, administrative skills, and pioneering the Barrenjoey Circle race course. He was well known for not only starting and finishing races but laying the days marks and getting back to the club to start pouring the taps for competitors thirst.

An avid sailor himself, he finished runner up in the 1964 Olympic trials aboard the 5.5 “Altair” and sailed onboard “Gretel II” in the 1977 Americas Cup challenger trials. Later radio commentating at the 1983 America’s Cup. He sailed many Montague Island races on a variety of boats, however, inshore one design racing was his first choice.

Jack was employed by the RPAYC from 1956 – 1989 and was made a Life Member of RPAYC in 1994 and in 2014 the Club’s training facility was named The Jack Gale Centre, in honour of Jack’s significant contributions to the Club and the sport of sailing on Pittwater.

In a fitting tribute to Jack's personality and character, the final song played at the closing of the service was Ray Charles’s - ‘Hit the Road Jack’.

Farewell Jack - fair winds & calm waters – you will be greatly missed and remembered for sharing your generosity of spirit, knowledge and wicked sense of humour. 

The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
16 Mitala Street
Newport  NSW  2106
Ph: 02 9998 3700