Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club to celebrate Sixty years

Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club is gearing up for their 2022-23 season Opening Day on Sunday 30 October 2022, with a special landmark celebration for their 60th year. Back in 1962-63, the co-operative vision of sailors from various keelboat clubs around the bay, created and built the QCYC clubhouse to provide a safe harbour destination at the southern end of Port Phillip, an opportunity for getting together and sharing camaraderie or a starting point to venture beyond the Heads. The legacy of their toil and volunteering spirit has enabled many to enjoy the “Paradise” on Sand Island that is the QCYC.

Sixty years on, the club continues to run entirely on the co-operative efforts of volunteers in the spirit of its founders. Amongst the volunteers, there has been an increasing number of females emerging in lead roles at the club and in October 2021, Commodore Lee Renfree, was elected as the club’s first female commodore. As a passionate sailor and keelboat owner, Lee had a vision to increase inclusion and participation in sailing activities for all, particularly amongst female members visiting the club. In her short tenure, with the support of her committee, she has built opportunities for women to become more confident and active in sailing, taking on lead roles, be it cruising or racing.

Starting with the club’s annual Queenscliff Cup regatta held over Easter 2022, a new division the “Commodore’s Trophy” was added within the event, with two races from a total of four races designated for female helms drawn from the boat’s regatta crew. QCYC Vice Commodore Janet Torode from Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC) took out the inaugural honours.

In the background, Commodore Renfree was hatching a plan for a women’s passage race from clubs around the bay to Queenscliff, but how to take passengers to active participants and empower them to take lead roles on boats? With the establishment of a subcommittee, the Keelboat Introduction for Sailing Savvy (KISS) program was born, created by women for women to provide knowledge and skills to inspire and empower them to step up. The KISS program attracted a grant from the Victorian Office of Women Sport and Recreation and the support of the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV – AS Yacht Club of the Year 2021) and was rolled out in May 2022 attracting 25 women from 11 clubs with a waitlist of another six women. A series of six online webinars, a Category 5 boat audit and one full day of safety, radio and diesel workshops prepared the participants for the KISS Passage Race/Rally, a 30nm passage from Altona to Queenscliff run on 30 July with women in all lead roles of helm, navigator and radio operator, capped off by a jubilant celebration and overnight stay at QCYC. Three local businesses from the Borough of Queenscliff engaged with the event each donating a perpetual trophy for the best performances in the various lead roles with the honours spread across women from three diverse clubs.

Lee Renfree receiving AS She Sails Victoria Award 2022
Lee Renfree receiving AS She Sails Victoria Award 2022

In September 2022, following nomination by the QCYC committee for an Australian Sailing award, Commodore Renfree took out the annual Victorian She Sails Award which recognises an individual, group, class or club that makes an outstanding contribution, promotion or administration of female participation in sailing. An invitation followed to present at the Australian Sailing She Sails 2022 Conference Webinar on 5 October for sailing clubs across Australia & New Zealand, coinciding with World Sailing’s ‘Steering the Course’ Southern Hemisphere Festival. Lee joined an impressive line-up of high achieving local female speakers including world solo sailors and Olympians sharing their insights into steering their own course and breaking down barriers.

With QCYC’s 60th anniversary celebrations now only weeks away, the club is preparing for a busy weekend. Saturday 29 October club volunteers will welcome members and visitors either cruising from their home clubs or competing in the club’s annual Goorangai Memorial Trophy, a passage race from Brighton to Queenscliff. The progressive momentum around the club’s spirit of inclusion will see a new division for female helms added to the annual race with the introduction of the Eliza Ramsden Trophy. With the success of the KISS program and the confidence and competence gained by the participants, the club looks forward to welcoming the KISS girls and other keen female sailors back to participate in the passage sailing opportunities on offer.

Both the Goorangai and Eliza Ramsden trophies reflect Queenscliff’s maritime history of vessels which came to misadventure navigating the notorious “Rip” at Port Phillip Heads.

The newly minted Eliza Ramsden trophy refers to the three-masted barque, popularly regarded as the finest vessel of the Port of Melbourne at the time of its commissioning in 1874 and named by S. Ramsden in honour of his wife, Eliza Ramsden. Alas, in 1875, the vessel was badly damaged when it ran aground and was trapped on Corsair Rock on its voyage from Melbourne to Newcastle, sinking but with no loss of life and eventually the vessel ending up inside the Bay close to where the Goorangai remains lie. The Queenscliff Maritime Museum now displays the large anchor retrieved from the Eliza Ramsden at its outside entrance.

HMAS Goorangai Memorial Trophy Race 2022 flyer
HMAS Goorangai Memorial Trophy Race 2022 flyer

The Goorangai Trophy commemorates the tragic sinking of HMAS Goorangai with the loss of all 24 crew on 20 November 1940. Former QCYC club Member Les Nangle, was a Petty Officer in the RANVR prior to the war, was called up and served in HMAS Goorangai until just before her last voyage. To preserve the memory of many of his shipmates who were lost, he presented the Goorangai trophy to QCYC.

Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club has much to celebrate in its sixtieth year, a club like no other which offers so much to members and visitors alike. The invitation to join the party at the island Paradise is open to all to come and enjoy. If the challenge and excitement of passage racing is your bag, the Notice of Race for the Goorangai Memorial Trophy and the Eliza Ramsden Trophy is now available online. The racing will be conducted by Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club with the assistance of Royal Brighton Yacht Club on Saturday 29 October 2022 with start at 0930hrs from Brighton. Entry fees are $25.00 open until 25 October 2022 with Late entry fee of $50.00 from 26 October 2022.

Sailing Instructions will be available on the QCYC website after 0900hrs on 24 October 2022.

Further information can be obtained from QCYC Club Captain Mike Phelan at mphelan@bigpond.net.au.

Overnight berthing fees at QCYC will be waived for boats entered in the Goorangai Memorial and Eliza Ramsden Trophy races on the 29 October but a Berthing Registration form with boat details must be completed by all boats prior to arrival to secure a berth.

Sunday 30 October the club will be jumping with celebration of sixty years of club life on Sand Island. All competitors are invited to join members and friends in attending Sunday’s 30 October Opening Ceremony, Blessing of the Fleet and Luncheon. Notification of attendance is essential including lunch and dietary requirements and need to be emailed to secretary@qcyc.org.au.

With a long weekend to kick back and relax, sailors are welcome to stay on longer, but berthing will be payable for stays beyond the 29 October.

Come and join us!

Jeanneau JY60
M.O.S.S Australia