REN­DEZVOUS RAISES HOPE

2016 Ren­dezvous raises a mas­sive $103k for Aus­tralia Prostate Can­cer Foun­da­tion

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Sharon Small­wood Sharon.Small­wood@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

WHEN Ken Thack­eray started the Shag Islet Cruis­ing Yacht Club, lit­tle did he know what a phe­nom­e­non it would be­come.

Over the week­end about 800 “Shag­gers”, as the club’s mem­bers are af­fec­tion­ately known, con­verged on the Glouces­ter Pas­sage in the north­ern Whit­sun­days for what is ar­guably the re­gion’s biggest party of the year.

“It’s as­tound­ing that this has evolved this way,” Mr Thack­eray said.

“We thought we’d get about 50 friends but they’ve told other peo­ple and on it’s gone. Ob­vi­ously there was a need for a cruis­ing yacht club that em­braced an in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and we’ve just hap­pened on it.”

But the SICYC an­nual Ren­dezvous, now in its sev­enth year, is not just about cruis­ing yachties and the Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity hav­ing fun.

On Satur­day morn­ing, 156 dinghies from the 200-plus boats an­chored in the pas­sage formed the shape of the rib­bon used as a logo for the Prostate Can­cer Foun­da­tion of Aus­tralia.

When Mr Thack­eray and all the “vice com­modores” in the club re­alised they were “in dan­ger of mak­ing money” each year, it was de­cided the event would do­nate to a wor­thy cause.

Last year more than $80,000 was raised for the PCFA, rep­re­sented at this year’s event by dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sor Ju­dith Cle­ments.

Whit­sun­day Mayor An­drew Will­cox, him­self an SICYC mem­ber and vice com­modore of In­er­mika Rock, said it was fan­tas­tic to see so many peo­ple get­ting to­gether for such a good cause.

“Can­cer be­comes in­volved in a lot of peo­ple’s lives so I think if we can raise aware­ness and en­cour­age early de­tec­tion we can treat the symp­toms while mar­vel­lous peo­ple like Pro­fes­sor Ju­dith Cle­ments are de­vel­op­ing a cure,” he said.

The other as­pect of the event to strike a chord with the mayor was its ben­e­fits to the Whit­sun­day econ­omy.

“Ev­ery­body’s heard of the grey no­mads mak­ing the trek up the coast but this is about peo­ple who are a lit­tle bit more ad­ven­tur­ous, bat­tling the high seas ... and while they’re here they’re con­tribut­ing to our restau­rants, our bars, they buy gro­ceries, chan­dlery, and more,” he said.

“I’ve got friends from New Zealand who come over ev­ery year to at­tend this event but they build a hol­i­day around it and that’s the type of ben­e­fit we have for the re­gion.”

This year the ex­po­sure for the Whit­sun­days was big­ger than ever, with Chan­nel 7’s Creek to Coast pro­gram film­ing at the event and a new “Co­conut Ra­dio” broad­cast­ing live.

While the ra­dio sta­tion’s FM chan­nel was only line of sight, its novice DJs Tony Lit­tle and Tully Mars at­tracted at­ten­tion from across the world with their live in­ter­net streams.

Air­lie’s Rum Bar owner Kevin Collins, who do­nated a sig­nif­i­cant sum to this year’s event, said its at­mos­phere re­minded him of the Great Whit­sun­day Fun Race “25 to 30 years ago”.

“On Shag Islet yes­ter­day, we had guys with multi-mil­lion dol­lar boats and $10,000 dinghies and they were all eat­ing a sausage in a piece of white bread and all dressed the same and all lis­ten­ing to the same mu­sic,” he said on Satur­day.

“It’s the equal­ity – and of course you do it all for a good cause – a bit like a Va­ri­ety Club but on the wa­ter.”

When the fundrais­ing tally got to $96,000 on Satur­day night, it was Mr Collins who pledged to en­sure it reached the $100k mark, Mr Thack­eray said.

How­ever, at Sun­day’s Pi­rate Party, thanks to the likes of lo­cal Mar­lene Hicks walk­ing the plank, the fi­nal tally hit $103k.

Re­flect­ing on the event’s suc­cess this week, Mr Thack­eray said the PCFA was ex­tremely grate­ful but the money was only one el­e­ment of it all.

“We’re not a char­ity – we pro­vide funds to a char­ity but we don’t want peo­ple to feel they join SICYC to be asked to do­nate,” he said. “We just want them to en­joy them­selves.”

ACROSS THE BLUE: SICYC mem­bers in the shape of the PCFA logo on Satur­day.

James Sturgess (Llewellyn Mo­tors), Linda Web­ber (Yel­low Cabs), Steven Boul­ter (Quan­tum Sails), Maria Dwyer (Oceanic Ma­rine Risk In­sur­ance), Mayor An­drew Will­cox, Abell Point Ma­rina owner Paul Dar­rouzet, Rhonda and Ken Thack­eray (SICYC founders), Ju­dith Cle­ments, Adrian Her­ing­ton and Me­gan Cair­ney (PCFA), Paul Bur­fitt (He­li­pad) and Whit­sun­day MP Ja­son Costi­gan.

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

The best dressed boat by day.

The club's name­sake, Shag Islet, pic­tured be­hind the Hands Across the Blue dinghy fleet.

PHOTO: KATE TULETT & PABLO HAUBER-SIX / TH3RD DI­MEN­SION ME­DIA

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

SICYC mem­bers at sun­set be­fore Satur­day's Par­rot Head Party.

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

Co­conut Ra­dio’s Tony Lit­tle and Tully Mars.

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

Sun­day's pi­rate party tipped the funds raised to over $100k.

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