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10 Years of Shaggers Rendezvous

10 Years of Shaggers Rendezvous

It was 2009 when Ken Thackeray decided to create a yacht club with a difference. Its members wouldn’t have a physical clubhouse, but would rendezvous at humble Shag Islet in the Whitsundays’ Gloucester Passage once a year. The club would be ‘exclusively non-exclusive’ and every member would be a Vice Commodore, number 0010.

Little did Ken, or his wife Rhonda, realise what they had started. “At that first rendezvous we planned on getting 54 people – we thought, ‘54 people – this’ll be a hoot!’” Ken said. “But that 54 people told another 54, who told another 54 and so on.”

Fast forward to the last weekend of August 2018, and the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club (SICYC) welcomed 150 boats and about 550 people to its tenth anniversary rendezvous. To cap it off the event raised about $80,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), bringing the total raised over a decade to roughly $610,000. “I don’t think you could write a business plan for that – it just happened,” Ken said.

 

The ‘Shaggers’ phenomenon

So what is it that makes the SICYC, which now boasts 6378 members from 17 nations, so popular worldwide?

“I think it’s created a group of like-minded people from all over the world – some quite wealthy, some not so wealthy – but all part of the family,” Ken said. “I’ve seen the family of SICYC grow together over the years and people have become more personally involved with one another. They’re not individuals that are part of an organisation; they see themselves as the organisation. They enjoy the rendezvous together and they hold one another close as friends.”

On Friday, August 24, those “friends” yet again donned their blue “Shaggers” shirts and gathered to celebrate on the tiny uninhabited islet where it all began. Kites flew, the conga line grew and the traditional cake was cut. The four days of fun and frivolity were well and truly underway, with old favourites and new additional elements making it onto the program of events.

 

Blanc Sur Blanc

One of those new additions was ‘Blanc Sur Blanc’ – a “Shaggers” interpretation of the hugely successful ‘White on White’ dinners pioneered by the Whitsundays’ D’Vine Catering, Rum Bar and Fish D’Vine.

Business co-owner Kev Collins said, previously his company had assisted the SICYC’s fundraising efforts, by selling prawns at the islet party to the tune of $5000. “But this way we’ve given them dinner for 50 for nothing. They sell it and get their $5000 and we get to be part of this amazing event and showcase our company – so it’s a win/ win,” he said. “A bucket of prawns is one thing, but this is something quite unique that’s never been done at a ‘Shaggers’ before and we hope it becomes part of the rendezvous for years to come.”

About 80 bottles of wine later, there were many white-attired ‘Shaggers’ sharing this point of view. By the end of the evening, D’Vine Catering’s operations manager Troy Campbell had set up a kitchen behind the beach and served 50 people with canapés, beef cheeks, grilled barramundi and desserts like pavlova and lemon tart. “It’s quite involved – just with the kitchen set-up you’ve got to be quite self-sufficient, so it’s about preparation, logistics and being organised, but we’ve got a great team that love doing it and it all just comes together,” he said.

 

The SICYC partnerships

D’Vine Catering is just one of the SICYC’s growing list of sponsors contributing to the annual rendezvous and its underlying fundraising aims.

The Whitsundays’ Abell Point Marina has proudly backed the event for many years, now joined by the Gold Coast City Marina (GCCM) team. GCCM CEO Trent Gay said apart from the cause it was the community atmosphere that had attracted him to the rendezvous. “From our perspective, we’re really proud to come on board as a sponsor and we plan to be here for a long time to come,” he said. “We love to work with people who put back into the community, and this is about boaties. It’s about having fun and it’s a good way of giving back, connecting with our boating community and looking after them.”

GCCM General Manager of Customer Experience, Luke McCaul, said, “It was also about linking those home spots on the east coast of Australia. We’re already doing a lot of work with Abell Point Marina. You can see that strength in collaborating and that’s what this is about.”

 

Hands across the blue

It wasn’t just the sponsors holding hands across the blue, with the majority of the SICYC fleet once again joining in what has become a symbolic rendezvous event. Each year vice commodores take to their tenders and form the shape of the PCFA logo in an awareness raising gesture.

This year, wind and tide conditions conspired to make that impractical, so the tenders gathered at the stern of Paul Darrouzet’s MV Norseman for a spot of live entertainment instead. In the true spirit of the SICYC’s exclusively non-exclusive motto, the Abell Point Marina owner invited all and sundry aboard his boat. With a combined interest in boating and medical research, he intends to make “Hands Across the Blue” a national event. “I’d like to see this done at every single marina in Australia – so inside the marina itself everyone forms the ‘P’ – and I think we’ll get a good national response,” he said. “There are 390 marinas in Australia and I think maybe not next year but the year after, if you had this simultaneously run in all 390 marinas, it could work.”

 

Passing the baton

Continuing to oversee the rendezvous’ fundraising events, Ken and Rhonda took to the stage at the Cape Gloucester Resort many times over the remainder of the weekend, announcing male and female parrot head costume winners, and the 2018 pirate king and queen. But perhaps the most emotional presentation of the event was their own.

The founding father and mother of the association and its beloved rendezvous are working towards the establishment of a sub-committee to take over planning of the event. In recognition of everything they have done in the decade thus far, they were presented with the ‘SICYC Hero Award’.

“If it weren’t for the dedication that Ken and Rhonda have put into this event, all of us ‘Shaggers’ would never have met each other and be enjoying this great event and the friendships we’ve all made,” Kay Bond told the crowd, adding: “Thank you Ken and Rhoda – we love you both.”

Choking back the tears, Ken paid tribute to the many other volunteers or “foot soldiers” as he likes to call them, who also contribute significantly to the event. “Every year Rhonda and I promise ourselves we won’t cry, but we look into the crowd and somebody else is crying, and when they gave us the presentation I just couldn’t speak,” he said. “We really feel part of every moment of the growth of this organisation, and we find that outside the rendezvous as people travel around Australia now, they’re being hosted by fellow vice commodores in West Australia, in South Australia, or wherever. So it’s a marvellous network of lovely people. We’re enthusiastically looking forward to seeing the club community coming together and seeing this rendezvous continuing to grow.”

For more information or to offer your services to the next SICYC Rendezvous, email info@sicyc.com.au.

 

By Sharon Smallwood

 

*Sharon is an editor and multi-media journalist who would rather be sailing. She is happiest when on the water in her Peterson 44, Brilliant II, with her husband Julian, son Joshua and Blue Burmese cat. The anchor is currently down in the Whitsundays but the Smallwoods still dream of sailing the seven seas. 

 

 

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