Ask not what your club can do for you... The Volunteers' Lunch was held recently and once again a very tasty spread was provided by BSC's own caterin

Header August 2013

Ask not what your club can do for you...

The Volunteers' Lunch was held recently and once again a very tasty spread was provided by BSC's own catering volunteers – Cathy & Heshan and Elizabeth & Alan. This annual event recognises the contributions of many of the people who fill voluntary roles, both on and off the water, to help make sailing at Balmoral Sailing Club (BSC), fun, safe, accessible and affordable for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.

BSC volunteers include Board members who take care of a myriad of roles from administration to finance to risk management. We also have voluntary race control officers and assistants, patrol boat drivers and crew plus those who conduct power boat and first aid training. Other volunteers are responsible for things such as power boat maintenance, stocking the canteen and organising social functions. Membership and the database, racking, the Facebook page and the website are looked after by further volunteers. Then there are the class captains and handicappers, to say nothing of those club members who make rolls, sweep the floor, empty the bins and put the hoses away each week!

Thanks to each and every one of you.

If you'd like to help in some way email:


5 Questions with our oldest sailor, Dennis Paton

Every few months, in the 5 Questions section, we'll hear from someone who’s a part of the Balmoral Sailing Club family.

1. Dennis Paton   Powerboat Low Res

Our first interviewee is Dennis Paton (National E 537, Firewind). Dennis, who will be 80 next birthday, is a retired pharmacist who has lived at Balgowlah Heights, with his wife Julie, for the last 55 years. Dennis reports that sailing was a family affair until his four sons reached their mid-teens and became much more interested in girls!

1. What is your sailing history?

My grandfather had a 16 footer in the Drummoyne SC. All the sailing clubs in those days made model boats (1 inch to 1 foot) for racing in the winter. When I was five, Grandpa gave me a model 8 footer i.e. 8 inches long. I knew nothing about boats but I learnt the names of all the parts of that boat and eventually broke it up. That started my interest in sailing.

After WWII, I was about 12 when our family moved to Mosman and we got a launch with a lovely 10 foot cedar dinghy. At first I put up a piece of canvas and sailed the dinghy. Then I got Mum to sew a sail for me and I made a mast, a bowsprit and a rudder. I wanted to have a fin case put in but Dad wouldn’t let me so I had to use a leeboard which is placed on one side of the boat and then when you go about you have to pull it up and put it in on the other side. That’s how I sailed for 12 months – up and down Middle Harbour, all by myself.

Dad realised that I really was interested in sailing and the next Christmas I was given a VJ. I sailed at the Northbridge Sailing Club and was a foundation member there. When I was 15 I built a VS which I sailed until university interrupted things.

After Julie and I married I went down to Clontarf Beach one day in 1972 and there was a National E and I thought “That’s the boat I’m going to sail!” I’ve been sailing them ever since. I’ve actually built three of them. The first was Quo Vadis, the second was Coming Soon and the third was the fibreglass boat, Firewind, that I’ve sailed regularly at BSC since the National Es moved from Clontarf to Balmoral in about 1983.

1. Dennis Paton   Firewind Low Res

Dennis Paton has won the National E Club Championships seven times. He first won in Quo Vadis in 1976, then in Coming Soon in 1978 (both at Clontarf SC). In Firewind (pictured left) he's won five times already, in 1991, 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2012 (all at Balmoral SC). He has also won the B Division in the National E National Championships several times.

2. Why would you encourage someone to take up sailing, especially at BSC?

Balmoral is the ideal place to sail; it’s convenient for everyone, the competition is good but not fierce; the club is most enjoyable; and, you couldn’t ask for better setting – it’s beautiful! I believe sailing reflects people’s attitude to life. Some sail to win and if they don’t win they leave. Some won’t take advice so they stumble on making mistakes. Some people are encouraging and share good advice when asked. Some are enthusiastic and go on to be champions. Some just love to sail, win or lose - that’s me, I think. I just love to sail. And sailing is great exercise – a sport you can do all your life from 5 to 85!

3. Besides being a skipper how else are you involved with BSC?

I’m on the Board of BSC and I look after the power boats. I’ve been doing that for six years now. There are regular maintenance issues that have to be done every 12 months or so such as slipping the three boats for antifouling (~$1500 per boat) and servicing the engines (~$600 per boat). As the boats get older hundreds of things can go wrong. I do a lot of the maintenance myself, half a day here and there, looking after this, that and the other – replacing rivets, fastening down seats, keeping the pumps working. About every four years we need to recover all the seats. I’ll take them home and replace them all. It’s a day’s work or so. Certainly if we had to pay a professional person to do what I’m doing it would be big dollars, maybe even thousands.

4. What surprises you about sailing?

I remember the things that just happen perfectly without any preparation. Once I was sailing here with a guy in an easterly gale and we were planing towards the mark on a reach and we gybed around the mark and went right on planing. We looked at each other and said “How did we do that?”

5. What keeps you busy away from BSC?

1. Dennis Paton Model Boat v2 Low Res

I play a bit of croquet. I’m involved with my church and do occasional preaching when there’s a gap in the program. I also take care of the maintenance of the church property. Julie and I spend a couple of days each week looking after our grandchildren and we often head up to Queensland to visit another son and help him with various things around his house.

Dennis kept most of the pieces of the model 8 footer that his grandfather built for him in 1939 and in 2010 he rebuilt it. It now has pride of place in his house (pictured right).


Who's who in the pod?

At a well-attended Annual General Meeting, held at the clubhouse in early August, the following positions were filled:

Commodore: David Dixon-Hughes
Vice-Commodore: Roly Webb
Rear-Commodore: Dennis Paton
Honorary Treasurer: Will Jones
Honorary Secretary: Lorraine Madden
Club Captain: Leigh Riddell

Murray Freeman, Heather Hall, Campbell McKay, Steve Thomas and Wes Walduck were elected as Directors.

Over the next few editions of Whale's Tales we'll tell you a little more about our Board members and in the not too distant future, you'll also be able see who's who on the notice board in the foyer of the clubhouse.


What's my YA number & am I financial?

To find out your Yachting Australia membership number and more importantly, if you are financial click here, then enter your first name or initial, surname and postcode.


Little Tackers...

Did you know that the Southern Right Whale is the type of whale most likely to visit Sydney Harbour? Before whaling there were thought to be 60,000 of these whales in Australian waters but by the time whaling stopped only 250 remained. Fortunately numbers are again increasing and the current population is estimated to be 2,000.

Southern Right Whale Low Res

Learn more about Southern Right Whales at Wild About Whales

Enter our quiz about whales for the chance to win a prize

Here's the second question… How did the Southern Right Whale get its name? (Hint: Read the fact sheet at Wild About Whales)

There'll be one more question in September. When you have all 3 answers, send them to me along with your name and age. You have to be under 13 to enter.


Coming Events...

31 Aug & 1 Sep – Working Bee
14 Sep 13:00 – Spring Sprints Start
12 Oct 14:00 – Club Races Start
27 Oct – Discover Sailing Day

Volunteers needed for Working Bee and Discover Sailing Day. Contact:

You can just turn up for the Working Bee, any time between 9am & 4pm on either day, and you will be given a task.


Spread the word...

Please use the link at the bottom of this email to forward Whale's Tales to interested family and friends. If they subscribe here they'll receive their own copy of Whale's Tales each month.

… and keep the feedback coming!

Thanks to everyone who gave the first edition of Whale's Tales the thumbs up! Remember it's your newsletter so please email me with any bouquets, brickbats or suggestions.

Sue Halloran, Editor, Whale's Tales

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