RENDEZVOUS RAISES HOPE
2016 Rendezvous raises a massive $103k for Australia Prostate Cancer Foundation
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.
The best dressed boat by day.
The club's namesake, Shag Islet, pictured behind the Hands Across the Blue dinghy fleet.
SICYC members at sunset before Saturday's Parrot Head Party.
Coconut Radio’s Tony Little and Tully Mars.
Sunday's pirate party tipped the funds raised to over $100k.