The Budgewoi Sailing will hoist sail for the last time in February, with the sun to set on one of the oldest sailing clubs on the Coast.
The club is disbanding after 47 years of operation, but will go out in style as members prepare to host their final event, the ‘Calling All Skippers’ regatta. Set to run from February 1 to 2, 2020, the regatta is an annual club tradition held to honour the memory of its Founder, Ashley Chapman, who died in 2012.
It attracts avid sailors from across the State and it’s hoped the last installment of the regatta will be the club’s biggest one yet.
Club Publicity Officer, John MacDonald, said the decision to disband had not been an easy one, but a dwindling membership, lack of interest from the next generation and lingering legacy issues involving the former Wyong Shire Council had prompted what remained of the club to part ways.
“In recent years, the club has seen a decline in membership and we have been unsuccessful in attracting new, young members who are necessary to keep the club alive.
“This decline, coupled with the difficulties associated with updating our facilities and a lack of support from Council, prompted members to make the difficult decision to disband the club following the regatta, ” MacDonald said. According to MacDonald, a significant aspect of the club’s recent hard times was a lack of cooperation from the former Wyong Council to implement upgrades to its clubhouse and associated facilities, located at the waterfront reserve on Noela Pl, Budgewoi.
MacDonald said upgrade works had been specified as an initiative of the then Council’s 2013 Budgewoi Master Plan, but issues arose in ever getting the works off the ground due to the site being Crown Land that Council just managed.
After years of lobbying Council and several attempts to secure grant funding to kickstart the project, MacDonald said members simply gave up on getting a response from Council and consequently the upgrade itself, around the time that Central Coast Council was formed. “We weren’t able to develop the club in the way we wanted and I think that really hurt us in the long run in terms of attracting new members, ” MacDonald said.
With the decision to disband settled, the club is now focusing all its efforts into making their last hurrah a huge success. “Past and present members, and all other sailors who would appreciate a weekend of fine competitive sailing on Lake Munmorah, are invited to participate. “A full program of racing is planned and all classes will be accommodated. “A reunion dinner for former members is also being planned for the Saturday evening (February 1), ” MacDonald said.
Source: Media release and interview, John MacDonald, Budgewoi Sailing Club Dilon Luke, Journalist