by John Curnow
Like a lot of things, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) trusts come in threes. However, unlike the saying, none of these are bad. Indeed, all three are fantastically tremendous, as it turns out and their creation was part of the way to progress from the tragic loss of six lives during the 1998 Sydney Hobart Race.
SOLAS Trusts chairman Matt Allen and VMR president Peter Cartwright (right) at Southport Yacht Club following the cheque presentation
All three Trusts have the following three primary objectives and all are governed by a Board, which includes five (not three) Trustees, one of whom is the Chairman:
1. Assist the immediate needs for the family of those lost at sea during Yachting Australia (YA) sanctioned races;
2. Provide assistance to Search and Rescue (SAR) organisations;
3. Foster research and training, to improve procedures and equipment for use at sea.
The SOLAS Trusts Chairman is none other that Matt Allen, dedicated sailor, owner/skipper, former Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) Commodore and current YA Board Member. Matt explains how you can help, ‘We regularly review where we are heading with SOLAS and one of the things that we are trying to do is to continue to broaden out the national basis of the SOLAS Trusts. This is not just in a donation sense, but also for those SAR organisations around Australia that need financial assistance.’
CYCA Commodore and SOLAS Chairman Matt Allen handing over 1 of 3 Night Vision Goggles donated by SOLAS to NRMA Care Flight in 2008 - CYCA SOLAS Trusts
Past CYCA Commodore and SOLAS board member Martin James presents a cheque to Jack Johnson, the Assistant Police Commissioner representing Tasmanian Air Rescue - CYCA SOLAS Trusts
Unlike many charities however, every, yes every last cent of the Trusts is available for use under the three objectives, as stated above.
Matt explains for us, ‘Every dollar that goes in, plus all the accrued interest that the money earns whilst waiting for application to the many organisations and causes that SOLAS supports, also comes out of the Trusts. This is all made possible by the CYCA absorbing the expenses of running the charity and then people volunteer their time to make them run, such as myself and fellow Trustees. The SOLAS Trusts are a national charity and we are really keen to make sure that we are both getting donations and dispensing the funds right around Australia. This is not just a Sydney based activity and it is important that the SOLAS Trusts are recognised for the good that they provide not only to sailors and boaters, but to the wider community and increasing the awareness of this is something that the Trustees and I are keen to see occur.’
‘The Trustees and I would like to ask all yacht clubs to consider SOLAS when they are thinking about making donations to charity. As opposed to some of the more traditional avenues, your efforts will help the yachting and boating communities as well as the general populace, especially some of those surrounding the regional areas where the very kinds of services we need are often drawn from. So if you, your club, association or fleet are having a raffle, drive, chocolate push or even the classic Christmas Hamper, then I would like to urge you to consider donating to the SOLAS Trusts.
Don Stuart from NSW Water Police presents a cheque on behalf of SOLAS to Owen Rushton from Nambucca Marine Rescue Squad - CYCA SOLAS Trusts
Commander Tom Tully (let) from Tasmanian Air Rescue accepts a donation from RYCT Past Commodore Marion Cooper who presented the cheque on behalf of the SOLAS Trusts - CYCA SOLAS Trusts
Just as importantly, any of you that reads Sail-World.com and knows of a SAR project that needs funding, then we would love to hear from you’, implored Matt.
We are not talking small fish, either. Since their establishment in 1999, the SOLAS Trusts have distributed $660,000 to SAR organisations Australia-wide. In no particular order and with certain specific amounts, these include:
- St. Vincent's Hospital - $58,500 towards the development of a specialised Medical Management for Mariner’s Course to be run by St Vincent’s Hospital.
- NRMA Care Flight NRMA Care Flight - $39,000.
- Powercor LifeFlight - $30,000 for the purpose of upgrading radio and Emergency Beacon Direction Finding Equipment.
- RACQ Care Flight – $20,000 used to purchase a SAR-ADF 517, multi-frequency Aircraft Direction Finder to assist in search and rescue missions.
- Snowy Hydro South Care Aero Medical and Rescue Helicopter Service - $30,000 to purchase equipment including Gentex Flight Helmets and a XTS–3000 Motorola down the wire portable radio, plus a Retrieval and First Responder pack, including oxygen resuscitator equipment.
- Tasmanian Air Rescue - $40,000 used to fund the purchase of rescue equipment including two new rescue stretchers, crew and patient harnesses, personal emergency beacons for the crew and a range of specialised water rescue and safety and survival equipment.
- Tasmanian Air Rescue Trust – Second donation, this time $15,000 towards the purchase of wetsuits, helmets and a SKED stretcher to assist with air rescues at sea.
- Tasmanian Air Rescue Trust – Third donation to this organisation of $15,000 to purchase 12, custom-fitted immersion suits for rescue crew.
- Westpac Rescue Helicopters Service (Hunter Region) - Two donations consisting of $16,000 for new water rescue harnesses and a second donation of 17,700 for two new inflatable life rafts for each helicopter.
- Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue Group - $25,000 to purchase SOLAS Equipment, radio direction finders, and fire fighting appliances.
- South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron - $10,000 towards purchasing their first vessel.
- Volunteer Coast Guard Bermagui - $15,000 towards the construction of a search and rescue centre.
- Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol Tuggerah Lakes - $15,000 towards the purchase of a demountable office.
- Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol Sydney - $10,000 towards the refurbishment of this division's wharf at Mosman.
- Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Brisbane - $6000 to refurbish the electrics on its rescue vessel.
- Volunteer Rescue Association Nambucca Heads - $15,000 towards the cost of rebuilding their existing centre.
- Tascoast Radio – almost $5,000 toward a more efficient radio operation.
- Volunteer Marine Rescue Southport/Surfers Paradise –$15,000 to equip and outfit their new rescue vessel and then a second donation of $14,000 for new radio equipment.
- Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsunday - $36,000 to replace two outboard engines on their primary rescue vessel.
- Australian Volunteer Coastal Patrol Townsville - $13,000 to purchase SOLAS equipment for their new, primary rescue vessel.
- St Helens Marine Rescue - $20,000 contribution towards the cost of a new RIB to accompany its new primary rescue vessel.
St Helens Marine Rescue - $20,000 contribution towards the cost of a new RIB - CYCA SOLAS Trusts
Southcare was involved in the recovery of injured crew when Maximus was dismasted during the 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart - CYCA SOLAS Trusts
‘The SOLAS Trusts are not just asking you to help, they are actively out there making their own contributions to the cause, as well. Primarily, these are the annual SOLAS Trusts Raffle, SOLAS Big Boat Challenge and donations made to SOLAS by various individuals and organisations, which include the CYCA itself.
‘Over the last few years we have broadened our revenue base and the awareness has also gone increased through events like the Big Boat Challenge. We also do other fundraising on the day of the race, like Garry Linacre has been collecting various crew shirts from high profile boats and auctioning them off. For instance, you can buy a Wild Oats XI T-shirt, an IchiBan long sleeve Tee or whatever’, said Matt.
‘Around about the end of June, we get a lot of private donations, either anonymously or in a very low profile way. Some people we all would know very well and other people we may never have heard of before. The CYCA makes a donation every year before it finalises its accounts and the club also makes a donation by providing Mark Wolf at no charge to [perform the duties of Trust Secretary. Entry fees from the CYCA’s SOLAS Big Boat Day are also completely donated. Additionally, after the Rotary Regatta each year, we receive a donation from Rotary, so part of the proceeds do indeed go back into SOLAS’, Matt explained.
‘Post 1998, we now have the ability to help the family financially, as a result of any death in any yacht race and club event in Australia. Not that it is very widely known and it is very much from behind the scenes, but we have certainly been active in assisting helping kids get through school and undergraduates continue their studies. This is a really important thing, helping families when they really need it, no matter where in Australia the event occurred or where they live. Heaven forbid, but if we do have another death in a yacht race, we want to be in a strong position, so that we can help the family, both emotionally and importantly, financially as they move forward.’
To make your hard work creating and gathering donations count, in an area you know will help you and your fellow mariners, please supply any funds you can muster to the CYCA SOLAS Trusts. Contact Mark Woolf, Secretary, CYCA SOLAS Trusts, C/of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, 1 New Beach Road, Darling Point, NSW 2027. Email to Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 8292 7800.