A Civil war on the water has torpedoed the Sydney-to-Hobart campaigns of some of Queensland's leading yachties.
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron has been cut adrift from sailing's governing body and its members banned from competing in national events, including the Boxing Day bluewater classic.
Yachting Queensland has de-registered the Manly-based club for failing to pass on $110,000 in members' affiliation fees – leaving Royal Queensland members uninsured, ineligible to race and threatening mutiny.
The affiliation fee secures sailors a silver card, which is basically a driving licence that ensures cover under Yachting Australia's personal accident and injury policy for each member.
Without a silver card, owners cannot get public liability insurance, which varies from $5 million to $10 million in big regattas.
Entrants in the 2005 Sydney-to-Hobart Peter Hollis, Mike Freebairn, Anthony Love and Bill Wild are all members of Royal Queensland.
Members of every club in the state pay $53 annually for affiliation with Yachting Queensland and Yachting Australia, but Royal Queensland has withheld the payment without informing its members.
Yachting Queensland chairman Dayle Smith said there was no option but to de-register Royal Queensland.
'We've accepted their conduct is in breach and their membership has been revoked,' Mr Smith said. 'It can't go on. This weekend there's a championship and members of RQ can't race. And that goes for every race, weekend racing by the dinghies to state titles and even the Sydney-to-Hobart.'
Disgruntled members have accused Royal Queensland commodore Kevin Miller of attempting to muscle in on Yachting Queensland's board.
One of Queensland's most famous sailors, Peter Hollis, a three-time world champion and former Australian Yachtsman of the Year, needs to be affiliated to ensure his eligibility to race again this Boxing Day.
Mr Hollis, a member of Royal Queensland for 49 years, and the line honours winner of last year's Brisbane-to-Gladstone on Heaven Can Wait, has slammed the club's stance.
'It is a power play ego demand trip for RQ to get control of Yachting Queensland,' he said.
'They've demanded four positions on the seven-position YQ board, which is unfair on other Queensland clubs.
'I think the majority of members are unaware of it and the club has been trying to keep a lid on it.'
Mr Hollis was staggered at the club's deception and shuddered to think of the potential disaster during the recent St Helena Cup when 130 contestants were on the water for the Cup's 30th anniversary.
'There was a large number of RQ members sailing unaware they were unlicensed,' he said.
'I've been a member for 50 years next year. I think as membership becomes aware there'll be considerable dissent to what the new commodore is doing.'
'Some former RQ commodores, the late John Hattrick and Nick Lockyer would turn over in their grave that our premier Royal club has exposed itself and become unafiliated.
'It is not in the interests of all boating people and certainly not in the interests of junior sailors, aspiring elite sailors and aspiring olympians.'
Royal Queensland general manager Hayden Johns rejected suggestions of a power grab.
'Absolutely not, there is currently a dispute, we're doing our best to resolve it,' he said. 'The dispute is long-winded and it is over a number of issues we've had for a long period of time.'