At a ceremony in Sydney at the Australian Maritime Museum, Humpybong Yacht Club was crowned the inaugural winner of the Category B division Club of The Year capping of an incredible year for the club.
The prestigious Australian Sailing Awards for 2023 saw the club of the year award split for the first time with separate awards for large and small clubs in recognition of the role small clubs play in developing sailing communities throughout the country. After winning the Queensland awards earlier in the year, Humpybong Yacht Club was selected as a finalist for the national awards along side Richmond River Sailing Club from northern New South Wales and Sandy Bay Sailing Club from Tasmania. After building the anticipation all night, Australian Sailing President Alistar Murry capped of an incredible night for Queensland by announcing Humpybong as the winners of the Category B club of the year and fellow Queenslander Kepple Bay Sailing Club as the winners of the Category A award for big clubs.
As one of the fastest growing Discover Sailing Centres in Queensland, Humpybong attracts membership through its engaging dinghy, Tackers and OutThere programs. By then actively building connections with students they mentor them through a one of the many pathways of sailing to either join the club whether that be as a racer, social muck-about sailor or volunteer. They provide cost effective entry points for new sailors with their Sh*t-box Laser group allowing people to turn up with any old pile of backyard junk and be embraced by the welcoming culture of the club. While the latest new toys might hold the attention for a short while, it is through fostering a love of sailing that they have been able to sustainably grow their participation.
Their active SheSails program hosts one of the pinnacle female dinghy events for Queensland and works to build a welcoming atmosphere for all gender identities. Association with groups such as Deaf Sailing Queensland enable them to provide access to sailing for groups who have previously been unable to either due to social or financial barriers.
Humpybong’s annual regattas, the Humpybash and Winterbash, both attract dinghy and off-the-beach catamaran sailors from as far south as Sydney and as far North as Townsville. They also now have the Women and Girls’ Regatta (WaGR) that is also attracting a strong following. WaGR, in its second year in 2023, has grown to a weekend event featuring racing, coaching, mentoring and social activities. The involvement of new kids through to Olympians is seeing this event become a must do for any female sailor in Queensland.
In 2023 their hosting of the QLA ILCA championships saw a record fleet of over 100 boats entered. In the last few years, they have also held regattas for Optimists, Sabres, 125s, Nacras, and A-class Catamarans.
As well as using the events to provide opportunities for members to participate as competitors, the events also provide opportunities to develop volunteer race managers in skills of Race Officer, Protest Committee, Course Laying, and Event Management.
Being a social club with a community focus, most of Humpybong’s promotion comes from building a strong connection with their members and participants to spread the word to the wider community. In building a lasting connection you are only as solid as the last impression you leave, so the members and instructors at Humpybong make sure that everyone leaves satisfied with the greatest experience possible whether it was on the water, in the classroom, or just on the beach spectating.
In this modern world much of that word of mouth is spread by social media. Humpybong tries to make sharing great experiences as easy as possible with multiple chat groups around the club’s various activities, and regularly posting photos of each day’s adventures. It is also essential to make information very easy to find, so the Humpybong team take a lot of pride in using every aspect of the RevSports information management platform to keep their members and visitors as informed as they can about events and opportunities around the club.
Humpybong has worked very hard in the past few years to grow their Discover Sailing Centre capacity to deliver to Australian Sailing programs. In 12-months the number of fully qualified instructors has almost doubled, while the number of assistants has been sustained as new recruits come in to fill places previously occupied by the newly qualified Instructors. The club DSC Principal and their lead instructors work to identify talent within the fleet that can be firstly mentored into assistant instructing and then through the various courses and qualifications to become fully qualified instructors in dinghy and tackers. The club also structures its sailing programs around keeping opportunities open for instructors to continue to participate in racing without clashing with their teaching.
The club has a powerboat instructor on the team who runs courses to upskill instructors and club volunteers in Powerboat Handling and Safety Boat operations.
The DSC Principal is also a dinghy racing instructor, Regional Race Officer and Regional Judge which allows the club to mentor and teach race management skills to club members and volunteers.
Humpybong’s two lead instructors are in the process of gaining their Coaching qualifications to further develop the club’s capacity in this space. One of them is now also a foiling coach, and the club will be looking to launch Wing Foiling as an offering in the next season.
Where training is in an effort to provide skilled resources to the club, such as new instructors or officials, the club regularly subsidises its members to attend the courses whether they are run in club or externally by other Australian Sailing providers.
The highly skilled management committee of the Humpybong Yacht Club has a strong commercial governance background through a diverse range of backgrounds in retail, customer engagement, sports administration, and construction. The constitution has been regularly updated to keep it current with the latest in governance practices and policies are kept in line with best practice advice from Australian Sailing.