2023 Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron Annual Cruise

The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS) Annual Cruise is a highlight of the year for many Members, families and friends – some of whom have been attending this event for decades!

Over the course of one week during the Easter school holidays, up to 50 Member vessels (motor and sailing yachts) set sail for Broken Bay, Cowan Creek, Coal & Candle Creek and Pittwater in Sydney’s north. The itinerary includes a themed beach party on Halletts Beach, a progressive dinner, drinks and canapés on Waterfall Beach (Refuge Bay) and an informal dinner at the yacht club.

For racing enthusiasts, there is also a program of up to seven friendly non-spinnaker races comprising five inshore races and two passage races from Sydney to Pittwater and return, and one lay day.

To say the least, the Annual Cruise is a very special event in the RSYS community.

Captain’s Report by Paul Thackray

The morning of Saturday 15 April was at its sparkling best as cruisers motored to the start at Watson’s Bay in Sydney Harbour, t-shirts and sunscreen on-hand for the run to Pittwater. The crew of Phoebe started the day with a round of ‘Rustards’ at Bradleys Head to get the crew into the correct frame of mind and settle the pre-race nerves.

Thirteen boats entered the offshore race, with new entries Shearwater and South Brittany participating for the first time. Into the Mystic was a mysterious omission from the entry list this year, which was explained when Arthur Psaltis was spotted onboard South Brittany disguised as a Bretton fisherman!

The breeze was a light northerly that was predicted to build and go right all day. However, conscious of the overarching requirement to get everybody to the Pirate Party at Hallets Beach on time, fearless Race Officer Rob Ridley sensibly flew code flag ‘L’ and led the group to a start line just off Manly Beach.

The breeze was as predicted, starting in 8 kts of breeze for a beautiful day’s sailing. Some boats went into the coast while others headed offshore in a building breeze which reached up to 12-13kts. There were also several non-racing boats making their way north, so it was a great sight on what everybody agreed later was a ‘cracker of a day.’

Hallets beach was dressed up like a Caribbean beach for the main event of the day, which saw a swarm of pirates descend on Hallets from mid-afternoon for a feast of sausages and drinks to kick-off the week’s festivities. Thanks to everybody for dressing up in the theme of the event and the volunteers for the decorating and cooking. Alan Cox won the bottle of rum and everybody else got to take home the chocolates.


First Time Cruiser’s Morning Tea

After an entertaining and enjoyable pirate party on Hallets Beach, and lots of onboard partying afterwards judging from the merrymaking in Refuge Bay, 20 first-time cruisers rowed over to Sweet Chariot IV on Sunday morning and had a most convivial time.

As with most yachties, there was not a pause in the ensuing conversations as people found or renewed friendships, with sailing and boats being the common ground, of course. And of note, there is a great job being done by the Squadron to get women onto the water.

Cruisers welcomed eight boats to their first-time cruise: Crowded Haus, Whistling Kite, Xena, Burning Palms, Shearwater, South Brittany, Topaz Too and Flaunt.

And quoting Rick Blaine (Casablanca): ‘I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’

Annual Cruise Presentation Dinner

The Annual Cruise Presentation Dinner was held at RSYS on Friday, April 28. Congratulations to all prize winners.

Canape Cookoff
People’s Choice
1st Place, Allegro, John and Jackie Taylor: Smoked Trout & Horseradish on Cucumber and Anchovies on cos leaves
Runner up, Badu, Jane and Graham Coutts: Sydney Rock Oysters with Finger Lime and Ginger Mirin dressing

Judges’ Choice
1st Place, Ohana, Michelle McGrath & Karyn Gojnich: Figs with Goats Cheese wrapped in Proscuitto
Runner up, Coco, Russell and Melissa Taylor: Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

Cruise Crossword
1st Place, Vibe, Sharron & Graeme Kennedy

Photographic Competition
‘Afloat’ Category Winner: Gaila Merrington, ‘Thursday’
‘Other’ Category Winner: Jane Coutts, ‘Mushroom Bay Under the Stars’

Nav est Competition
Equal 1st place offshore, Shearwater, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis
Equal 1st place offshore, Hell Razer, Ian MacDiarmid
1st place inshore, Allegro, John Taylor

Division 1
New York Yacht Club Trophy & Alan Payne Memorial Trophy, Hell Razer, Ian MacDiarmid

Division 2
Windsong Trophy, Coco, Russell Taylor

Division 3
Bob Tinning Trophy, Cheb, Lyndall Patterson

Erica J Trophy
During the 1960s, Erica J (an eight-metre class yacht owned and skippered by the late Allan C. Williams) raced in RSYS Division 1. Other yachts such as Saskia, Norske, Alyth and Theme are just a few of the competitive fleet that raced in this division and provided some of the best and fairest racing sailing on Sydney Harbour at that time.

The donor of this trophy, Jean C. Williams, sailed on board Erica J and was one of the few women in the RSYS at the time actively involved in sailing. Over the years, Erica J raced in Tasmania and again on Sydney Harbour until 2011, when she was sold.

This fine spirit of racing sailboats seen in the 1960s at the RSYS lives on. This trophy has been donated to celebrate that spirit of competition and to promote the same values today in competition as existed in the RSYS during the 1960s. Thus, the Erica J Trophy is awarded annually to a boat or individual that exhibits the spirit of wholehearted competition and participation.

This year, the Erica J Trophy was awarded to Stephen, David and Richard Grundy.

William Brian Northam Trophy
After Brian experienced the New York Yacht Club Cruise in 1962, he wanted to encourage family involvement in ‘cruising in company’ offshore, racing each day and sharing the evening together. His dream was fulfilled when the Squadron included the Cruise in its annual sailing calendar.

Brian Northam CBE, was the first Cruise Captain and a member of the Squadron for 54 years. Jan Northam donated the trophy to the Squadron in 2010. It is a half model of the Half Ton class, mounted on a Huon Pine board. It represents Brian’s boat Humdinger, an affordable vessel, well suited for this event. It was a family boat for many happy years of competitive and recreational sailing. Made by Keith Lambert, the Huon Pine board measures 850cm x 540cm.

It is awarded to a skipper who emulates the ‘Spirit of the Cruise’.

This year the William Brian Northam Trophy was awarded to Sandy and Richard Lawson.

Thank you to all who made the 2023 Annual Cruise possible. We look forward to seeing you next year.