SICYC READY TO RENDEZVOUS
IT WAS 2009 when Ken Thackeray sat talking to a mate on the beach at Montes Reef Resort about etiquette in the boating world.
He and his wife Rhonda hadn’t been allowed in to see America’s Cup memorabilia at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron because they didn’t belong to a reciprocal club.
The conversation soon turned to talk of starting their own yacht club and as Mr Thackeray looked out to tiny Shag Islet in the Gloucester Passage the idea for a living legend was born.
Known for being exclusively non-exclusive, the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club, named for its Whitsunday base, is a virtual yacht club whose members are big on fun but low on pretence and have turned the tradition of bricks and mortar yacht club membership upside down.
Over the years, the SICYC has morphed from a small group of friends with boats to a cruising network of over 4000 members or “vice commodores” from 15 nations.
And each year, a growing number of this fraternity descends on the Whitsundays to celebrate their roots and raise money for a worthy cause – the Prostate Cancer Founda- tion of Australia.
The 2015 SICYC Rendezvous, from August 27–30, is predicted to be bigger and better than ever before, with more boats attending last year’s event than either of the region’s race weeks.
From 34 people on six boats in its first year, to more than 800 people on 220 boats in 2014, the Rendezvous has grown beyond even Mr Thackeray’s wildest dreams.
“It’s just an iconic thing – Rhonda and I figured we’d get 50 of our friends and have a bit of fun with it and they told another 50 and it’s gone on from that,” he said.
“I think the people that are attracted to it are people that are pretty casual – and most people out on the water like to socialise and have a good time.”
With about 1000 people joining the club in the last year alone, Mr Thackeray attributes its popularity to “an ex- traordinary sense of belonging”.
“Although our roots are in the Whitsundays, we’re not geographically based – we’ve had people meet in the Galapagos, in Greece and in Borneo, flying their burgees on their boats,” he said.
And with plenty of transport between this year’s Rendezvous and the communities of Airlie Beach, Hydeaway Bay and Dingo Beach, the camaraderie is set to spread across the land.
“Anyone local is invited to come, whether they’re members or not,” Mr Thackeray said.
With everything from mud crab races, to Tai Chi on the beach, topped with good food, live music and even fancy dress, the SICYC Rendezvous is an event that has something for everyone over its four days and three nights of riotous fun.
After the initial meet and greet, it’s down to serious club business with the Shag Islet Party on Friday.
On Saturday it’s all about the “swinging sixties” with a fireworks display to cap the day off ahead of the pirate party on Sunday.
All weekend long there are prostate cancer awareness and fundraising initiatives both large and small, from head shaves to auctions to the now renowned “hands across the blue” event.
Entry to the Rendezvous costs $20 a person and you can join the club for a one-off membership fee of $60. Every member becomes a vice commodore of the nautical location of their choice and receives the life membership number 0010 – the same as everyone else.
For more information or to join, visit www.sicyc.com.au.
LOCATION: Every year in the last weekend of August hundreds of "vice commodores" descend on the Gloucester Passage and tiny Shag Islet for the SICYC Rendezvous.
FUN-LOVING CROWD: Nowhere is the spirit of fun more alive than the annual SICYC Rendezvous.