Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

THE story of how the Shag Islet Cruis­ing Yacht Club (SICYC) first formed, is some­thing its founder Ken Thack­eray says “you couldn’t have writ­ten a script for”.

It was early 2009 and Mr Thack­eray, a cruis­ing yachtie with an affin­ity for the Whit­sun­days, was in New Zealand, with his then part­ner and now wife, Rhonda Thack­eray.

The cou­ple wanted to visit the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron to pe­ruse over mem­o­ra­bilia from the Amer­ica’s Cup, but de­spite Mr Thack­eray’s suit and tie, their lack of mem­ber­ship to a re­cip­ro­cal yacht club meant that ac­cess was de­nied.

A cou­ple of weeks later, Mr Thack- eray was sit­ting on the beach at Montes in the Glouces­ter Pas­sage, re­count­ing the tale to an old ex-army mate. As the con­ver­sa­tion deep­ened, the idea for an “ex­clu­sively non-ex­clu­sive” yacht club was formed.

The SICYC, named af­ter Shag Islet, which Mr Thack­eray was look­ing out on at the time, is a vir­tual yacht club, stripped of tra­di­tional hi­er­ar­chy and con­nec­tion to a phys­i­cal club­house.

Its mem­bers are a group of yachties who are big on fun but low on pre­tence and have turned the tra­di­tions of bricks and mor­tar yacht club mem­ber­ship up­side down.

The club has no com­modore, but ev­ery mem­ber is a ‘vice com­modore’ of the nau­ti­cal lo­ca­tion of their choice, about which they have some knowl­edge and are will­ing to share ad­vice.

Hav­ing joined the club for a one-off $50 pay­ment, there is no an­nual mem­ber­ship fee. All vice com­modores are given life mem­ber­ship cards as well as dis­counts from a grow­ing num­ber of busi­nesses that sup­port the club.

From its hum­ble be­gin­nings, the SICYC now has 3202 mem­bers from 14 na­tions world­wide.

Mr Thack­eray de­scribes it as a great so­cial net­work for cruis­ing yachties.

“And be­cause we’re not ge­o­graph­i­cally bound, wher­ever the burgee is, that’s where the club is,” he said.

The club has also evolved into a ma­jor sup­porter of the Prostate Can­cer Foun­da­tion of Aus­tralia, do­nat­ing more than $82,000 to date.

Iron­i­cally, Mr Thack­eray has been in­vited to the pres­ti­gious Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, to present the cheque for this year’s do­nated funds. “So the worm’s turned,” he joked. For more in­for­ma­tion, or to join the club, visit

SPIR­I­TUAL HOME: Lo­cal SICYC mem­ber Phil Solomon stand­ing on Shag Islet, the SICYC's spir­i­tual home, at a pre­vi­ous club ren­dezvous.

EX­CLU­SIVELY NON-EX­CLU­SIVE: SICYC founder Ken Thack­eray has cre­ated a club that's ef­fec­tively turned bricks and mor­tar style yacht club mem­ber­ship to­tally on its head.

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