Gilbert Tig' Thomas.
Gilbert (Tig) Thomas, a Middle Harbour Yacht Club (MHYC) life member and previous commodore, passed away on Wednesday 30 August 2017, aged 91. His memorial service was held at the club on Monday 16 October.
Tig started sailing in 1949 in Wagga Wagga, where he was born, in Heavyweight Sharpies and then Gwen 12s. He later became Commodore of the Wagga Wagga Boat Club.
On moving to Sydney in 1963, Tig sailed his Gwen 12 at the Lane Cove 12ft Skiff Club until he joined the MHYC in 1966, racing with some success.
In 1971, the idea of hitting the big-time got to him. With the financial support of a favourite client and friend Max Bowen, Tig had Bob Miller (later known as Ben Lexcen) design a half-tonner Plum Crazy, which was to become a famous name in local and offshore racing.
Tig represented Australia at the World Half Ton Cup in Denmark in August 1973 in Plum Crazy, and again in La Rochelle, France, with a chartered yacht Creizic. However, the greatest challenge of Tig's sailing career was surviving 70-knot winds in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1975. He skippered the first of the Half Tonners to finish, winning Division 2B, and set a record for a yacht under 9.5m LOA, which stood for 27 years and inspired the Plum Crazy Trophy.
Tig had an enduring love affair with Plum Crazy, and though he sold her in 1988, he bought her back in 2005.
In Sydney's yachting scene, he served for six years as Honorary Treasurer of the Australian Yachting Federation, was President of the Half Ton Association of NSW, and inaugural President of the Australian Half Ton Yacht Association.
Elected Commodore of the MHYC from 1976-9 and again from 1995-7, Tig played a pivotal role in ensuring the longevity and vitality of the club, as well as its history by producing the book, Middle Harbour Yacht Club: The First Sixty Years. He recently received his fifty-year pin at the Seniors Lunch.
Beside his love of sailing. Tig was an accomplished guitarist and also pilot. For his 90th birthday in 2016, he was given a skydiving experience. Afterwards, all he could say was, "bloody marvellous".
He was a kind and generous man who lived life to the fullest.
We will all miss him greatly.
Julie Hodder, MHYC