QCYC KISS Program – Blow Me One Last KISS

Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club’s successful second running of their KISS (Keelboat Introduction to Sailing Savvy) program for women, by women, came to its pinnacle on Saturday 26 August 2023 with the 26nm Passage Rally from Brighton to Queenscliff. An early departure for the seven boats saw the 26 participants from around Victoria, take up lead roles of Helm, Navigator and Radio Operator supported by their boat owners and mentors.

After 14 weeks of training with online webinars, practical hands on workshops with Category 5 Boat Audits, VHF radio training, boat safety and on water skills training they were keen to take on the challenges.

The early start with a crisp and overcast morning did not dent the women’s enthusiasm, and a gentle ESE breeze with flat seas provided perfect conditions for cracked sheets for the passage ahead.

The airwaves were alive with the confident tones of the onboard designated radio operators jumping into real time experiences with radio checks, sign on skeds with ETAs and mandatory position reporting at turning marks and the finish line.

Navigators had done their passage planning homework, but several boats needed to tweak the plan en route to stay clear of shipping traffic as they approached the entrance to the Port Melbourne Channel area. Variations in wind pressure across the course also precipitated some recalculation of ETAs.

After a glorious sail, all boats arrived safely at the finish line at Swan Spit off Swan Island in good time and proceeded to the host club Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club to be welcomed by the berthing party volunteers.

Back at the Clubhouse, the Rally Management team led by Rally Director Mike Phelan were busy assessing the quality of LogBook recordings for Navigators and Radio Operators prizes and for the Helm role, the boat finishing closest to its pre passage ETA.

And then to the Presentation with a room full of boat teams with smiling women chatting excitedly as they shared their experiences of the KISS Program. A rousing welcome from Commodore Lee Renfree, visionary of the KISS Program and the stage was set.

Perpetual Trophies donated by local organisations and businesses in Queenscliff were then presented to the winners.

The 360Q KISS Passage Rally Helm Trophy presented by local restaurateur Barry Iddles, was awarded to Tao Hsu, steering Beneteau 393 Martilse to victory, for achieving a finish time closest to their predicted ETA. A back-to-back win for boat owner and mentor Anthony Palmer following the boat’s victory in the inaugural event in 2022.

The Queenscliff Maritime Museum Radio Operators Trophy was presented by QMM Secretary Carolyn McKinnon to Jolene Laverick-Thorn aboard Jeanneau 349 Kiela, for her excellent radio protocols and logged recordings. A fitting trophy for QMM to have donated, which recognises the Marconi Experiment of 1906, with the company’s official opening of the first wireless stations at Queenscliff (Victoria) and East Devonport (Tasmania) with messages exchanged between the Australian Prime Minister and Australian State Governors and other dignitaries to communicate via telegraphy over the 150 km of water across Bass Strait.

The SeaRoad Ferries Navigators Trophy was awarded to Tanya Wilson aboard Northshore 33 Twice Five for her excellent passage planning and logging of the journey. Edel Doyle, Secretary of the KISS partner club, the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria, presented the trophy on behalf of ORCV Commodore Cyrus Allen. For boat owner and mentor Marg Goddard it was a double victory and definitely worth a ‘twice five’’, given her bad luck in the 2022 Race/Rally with an eleventh hour seabed issue obstructing her departure from the boat’s pen which put her out of the then race event.

This year, a new award was added to the trophy cache, the KISS Rally Photographic prize, for the best photo posted to social media during the passage event and went to Rachel Cameron, Boat Team Manager for Beneteau 40.7 Boomer.

Commodore Niesje Hees from kindred club, Royal Brighton Yacht Club, hosted berthing and dinner on Friday evening for KISS participating boats from other clubs and then drove to QCYC on Saturday for the KISS Presentation. Her take on the event –

“Congratulations on the KISS program! It was so much fun to be there for the presentation. I could see everyone was having a terrific time and keen to do more sailing. What could be better than that?”

A standing ovation for all involved completed the proceedings, before moving on to the Celebration Dinner.

Thanks to all the QCYC volunteers for hosting the final activity of the KISS program.

The Rally Management Team led by Club Captain Mike Phelan aboard the official Rally boat Amalfi owned by Chris and Ann Hunting. Thank you to Safety Officer Paul Jenkins, David James KISS Rally Radio Officer, QCYC Base Radio Stephen Renfree and berthing assistants, to the bar stewards and catering team.

To our generous boat owners and mentors, thank you for providing boats and spending time with our KISS participants in on-water skills training.

The ORCV has been an outstanding partner, in step, every step, supporting the program with technical expertise and provision of workshops along the journey..

This year’s KISS program could not have been run without the support of our generous sponsors, all of whom were showcased in their own webinar slot. Thanks to Andrew Neilsen from Boating Central, Annette Hesselmans from Paper Sailors Rock, Tim Foster from Blue Water Sailing School and Mandy Jackson, Independent consultant for Nutrimetics.

Finally, a wrap from QCYC Commodore Lee Renfree – “It has been an amazing year for the second running of the KISS program as it evolves further from its beginning in May 2022 with now 50 women graduated through the program.

As the curtain of dusk falls over Queenscliff, are we there yet? Have we achieved what we set out to do?

Our women have been empowered to transition from ‘passengers’ to confident ‘active participants’. They have faced their fears and achieved confidence and skills through the power of knowledge and hands-on experience.

We have witnessed the camaraderie they have built through teamwork and observed the personal growth that has enabled them to step up confidently to leadership roles.

As they sail away to other oceans, we will continue to provide mentorship and support to them as they navigate their own passage to ‘Sailing Nirvana’.”

Watch this space! There is more to come…….

For further information about the KISS program, email qcyckiss@gmail.com

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