Thursday 23 August 2012

Hansard of the Legislative Council




MR FINCH (ROSEVEARS) - The 175th anniversary of what is said to be the oldest yacht club in the southern hemisphere was marked in Launceston last weekend. The Tamar Yacht Club was founded in August 1837. What a record! It held its first regatta that year. I might point out that that is 43 years earlier than the founding of the Sandy Bay-based Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, although regattas were held on the Derwent much earlier than the founding of the yacht club itself.

The Tamar Yacht Club is based on the eastern side of the upper Tamar in Launceston in the electorate of Rosevears. It has a substantial presence in my electorate because they also purchased in 1996 the Beauty Point marina. The early founding of the Tamar Yacht Club reflects the historical importance of the Tamar estuary for water-based recreation. As well as being an important trade shipping route into Launceston, the Tamar was the focus for recreation in the Tamar valley before the coming of motor transport. It was used for recreational and competitive sailing and includes many beautiful picnic spots. I might also add that there is a long history of rowing on the Tamar.

The Tamar was a very important boatbuilding location and those of you who know your history would know that the Rebecca was built at Rosevears on the Tamar and that was the vessel in which Batman and Fawkner sailed across to Victoria to found Melbourne. Many Launceston families have photo albums; you only have to pull the family albums out, and there you will see black-and-white and sepia pictures of family outings all along the Tamar River. There are many old homesteads, particularly near Rosevears, that still have their mooring facilities on the foreshore.

I will take this opportunity to restate that my electorate includes the full width of the Tamar River and it stops over on the eastern shore where the member for Windermere's electorate begins. I might also say that a fantastic thing about the member for Windermere's electorate is that from there you get a magnificent view of my electorate.

The role of the Tamar Yacht Club has changed over the years from organising regattas; that was in response to the express desire of Governor Sir John Franklin, and it now provides facilities for recreational and competitive boat owners and they also have a much wider and more inclusive training role, which is what I want to talk about this morning. It trains power-boat operators and also marine-radio operators. In addition, they are a joint organiser of the oldest offshore sailing trophy event in Australia, which you may have heard of - the Rudder Cup. That was first organised over 100 years ago.

The club also conducts training for adult and junior sailors. It has a fleet of club boats for more experienced sailors to use and they have removed the necessity for individuals to own a boat before they take up sailing, which can be quite an expensive outlay. So if you want to try sailing before you purchase a boat, they have boats for you to do that.

The club also conducts inter-school teams racing with Tamar sailors representing the Launceston Church Grammar School at the Australian Schools Team Racing Championship in recent times.

Many members are highly competent sailors like Ken Gourlay. You might remember that in 2007 Ken became the only Tasmanian and the oldest and fastest Australian to sail solo, unassisted and non-stop around the world. It was a magnificent feat. I would like to concentrate on what the club is doing for young people. The club has promoted junior sailing for many years but now it is participating in a Yachting Australia program for primary schools. It is appropriately called 'Tackers'.

Tackers is an entry-level program designed to be accessible to a child who has never sailed before and whose family members do not sail. I will quote from the brochure:

The objective of the Tackers program is to attract a significantly increased number of primary school age children to sailing especially those who would not otherwise participate, and have them participate in an initial fun sailing experience before progressing on a pathway to a full learn to sail program over three main levels, then non-competitive participation, and long-term club membership.

The program is designed to provide an accessible, inclusive, fun and non-competitive way for children to start sailing.

This introduction course for Tackers is for children aged 7 to 12 years of age. The boats provided by the Tackers program are small, they are easy to handle and designed to be sailed by children. It can take three seasons to complete the three levels of Tackers and after that the kids take part in the first stage of club racing.

It will take some years, Madam President, for us to see the results of the Tackers program, but I am optimistic that it will give young people a new focus in our area and another way to be confident of their self-worth as they encounter the problems faced in growing up in this modern age.