SICYC READY TO REN­DEZVOUS

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Photo Nancy Jenks

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.

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