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At the helm: Geoff Lavis, Commodore, Cruising Yacht Club Of Australia.

The Audi Sydney Southport Race is reported on in full later in this issue, but as a participant, it was an interesting race to say the least. The phrase 'fresh to frightening' comes to mind. Another appropriate description is 'a sailmaker's delight!' A good size fleet of 45 boats started and headed off into a nor'easter. The expected southerly came on cue in the late afternoon which made for a fast ride on Saturday night. Unusually, the wind strength didn't abate and in fact built on Sunday into the predicted 30 to 40 knot range and there were reports of boats experiencing more than 50 knots. Coupled with a strong southern setting current, the sea state rapidly became nasty. This resulted in damage to some boats and Coifs Harbour became a popular retirement point! There certainly were many interesting tales in the Southport Yacht Club bar.

One participant suffered severe mast damage and then motor problems and issued a Pan-Pan as they were quite close to a lee shore. Volunteer Marine Rescue Brunswick Heads and Cape Byron assisted and the rescue launch from Brunswick Heads was dispatched to standby. Fortunately the motor issue was resolved and the boat motored through to Southport with fellow participant: Identity Crisis staying in close contact until the boat reached port safely. This is a timely reminder that whilst we try to remain self-sufficient while ocean racing, it is good to know that the VMRs are there to assist when called upon. The "V" stands for volunteer and we should never take for granted the service they provide to us and boating in general. Each time they respond to a distress call they are potentially putting themselves and their equipment at risk, so having called on one of their member's services, it was appropriate that at the prize giving, Matt Allen, Chairman of the SOLAS Trust, made a donation of nearly $13,000 to VMR Southport.

'Well done' to Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas from AFR Midnight Rambler who added the title of Blue Water Champion to their impressive list of wins. They were pushed all the way in the series by Englishman Chris Bull in Jazz and with the series win dependent on a solid performance in this race, both yachts were sailed hard all the way to Southport.

Our thanks go to the Southport Yacht Club and their team of volunteers and staff who always make us welcome. It's a great place to finish a yacht race and the reception and support we receive is greatly appreciated.

At the time of writing this article I had just officiated at the welcome ceremony and launch of the Youth Sailing Academy's winter Talented Sailors Squad, Development Match Racing Squad and Advanced squads. Once again I was immensely impressed at the depth of talent participating across the three squads. Many are at University undergoing various degree courses and successfully balancing their studies with intensive sailing activity. The camaraderie within the group is very pleasing to see and there is obviously a lot of support given to each other. Many in the group have travelled from interstate to attend university in Sydney so they can participate in the CYCA's youth sailing programme. Under the skilled guidance of Jenni Bonnitcha, our academy has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in youth sail training. Dara Johnston, representing YSA umbrella sponsor Audi Australia, was also at the ceremony and was so impressed by the talent and the fact that so many had travelled from interstate that he stated ours could be the Youth Sailing Academy of Australia! Dedication to the task is also undoubted as many regularly travel from the Illawarra and Lake Macquarie and Hunter area to attend, but the real winner in the dedication area is Keiran Searle who, despite still being at school, travels by bus and train every two weeks from Big River Sailing Club located north of Coifs Harbour. Whilst many of these sailors will continue in dinghy and Olympic classes, many filter through to our offshore boats and this provides a steady stream of talented new sailors for our area of the sport.

The annual Yachting Australia Awards are upon us again and I am very pleased to say that John Winning, the owner of JBW (our Rolex Sydney Hobart radio relay vessel so generously donated by John) has been announced as a recipient of the Services to Yachting Award. I am also very pleased to say that our own communications manager, Lisa Ratcliff has been announced as a recipient of the Media Award. Congratulations to both of you, the recognition of your efforts and support is well deserved. Further to this, Vice Commodore Matt Allen has been selected as a finalist in the Male Sailor of the Year Award category and Kyle Langford a finalist in the Youth Sailor of the Year with the final award recipients to be announced on the night.

On the social side of the club, director Geoff Cropley, chairman of the Member Services Committee, recently hosted a CYCA party as an initiative to attract members to the club to simply enjoy themselves and have a dance and a drink, all at a very reasonable cost. Geoff plans to have two or three of these casual themed parties each year. It is with some sadness that I say that this is my final report as commodore of this magnificent yacht club. My two years 'At the Helm' have passed extremely quickly. I have certainly enjoyed the role of commodore and consider it an immense privilege to have been entrusted by members with this role. I have been ably supported by a very solid board of directors who have brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the board. I have also had the privilege of a sound working relationship with our CEO Mark Woolf and indeed all the team at the CYCA who have the common goal of maintaining the club's reputation as one of Australia's premier yacht clubs. The club is in a very sound financial position, through astute management and the support of our major sponsors Rolex SA and Audi Australia and indeed all our sponsors. The club has a very bright future and I am proud that I have participated in the planning for its future and being part of its history. I now look forward to joining that exulted club of past commodores!
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Author:Lavis, Geoff
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2007
Previous Article:Offshore racing calendar: major Australian and international offshore and inshore events for 2007.
Next Article:Publishers note.

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