In the Beginning

Hard to remember, so long ago.  The first few club meetings I attended were held in a small two bedroom flat in Urangan.  I think the whole club consisted of two or three teams in total, but one thing that impressed me then was the strength of the club in its infancy.  Within twelve months, FCOCC had gone from two borrowed canoes to having its own trailer and purchasing its own canoe.  A great achievement for so few.

1991 - AGM.

I remember going to this event wondering what it was really all about and coming away as President.  What happened!

The next two years were exciting and challenging to say the least.  The club virtually exploded in a number of ways.  Firstly club membership increased dramatically around 300% I think.  This in itself brought its own set of problems.  Not enough canoes.  In a roundabout way the Kingfisher Club was birthed out of this shortfall, but I won't go into that.

The need for equipment instigated a healthy and aggressive fund raising team, which over the years has excelled and placed the club in a the position it is in today.

After two years of knocking on councillor's doors, passing letters between Beach Protection Authority and Lands Department, I think I had torn out all the hair I could afford to.  But finally approval was given for a secure compound in which to store equipment.  Only to be cut off at the knees by certain shop owners across the road and a certain councillor who almost experienced the firsthand wrath of our Treasurer at the time.  Thanks to Wendy Smith and her comforting words the Club still has the services of Lou Garland (she was ready to kill him).

Finally Organ Park was to remain the size it is today and the caravan park a little smaller.  A path was cut through the cottonwood trees (front page news and another headache) and away we went.  Everyone happy except for the caravan park manager.  After two years.....who cared?

Attending Southern Zone meetings was always a highlight....NOT.  I hope they are a little more organised these days!

During 1992, young people and families started joining the club and so junior and master teams were seen amongst the ranks. This brought about a new dimension to the club - more canoes were needed.  With a shortfall in funds to purchase more canoes (remember we had lost one of our existing canoes to Kingfisher.  How did they do that)!  The slack was taken up by Bob and Wendy Smith who loaned the club the required money.  Along with the support of some very generous sponsors at the time (many of whom don't live in the Bay any more... Is there a connection?)  We were on our way.

As one regatta and National Titles fades into another, I will just list some memories.

  • On stage, orgasmic impersonations - Byron Bay I think
  • Arriving at training early 1991 to find certain members of the Open Womens team lying in the gutter not able to find their way home from the night before.
  • Dame Robert singing the National Anthem.  First Red Paddles night and it got a lot better after that.
  • Sitting in the back seat of Justin Percival's car with each hand on the back of two of our very respected open women pushing them out each back window so they didn't throw up on me or the car.  They were on their way overseas for three months...back now and one married to our local prosecutor.
  • Blue light taxis.
  • Ongoing heated discussions at club meetings leading to the banning of alcohol before and during meetings.  Didn't stop us afterwards though!
  • Uniform had to be there!
  • Our first regatta.
  • Our first Corporate Day.
  • Bob's Bar.
  • National Titles, Airlie Beach and the banter of Benny Pike....on ya Julie Darlington.
  • The first twelve months of team competition.  We almost put the sponsors name on the bottom of the canoe to give them some decent exposure (Open Men).
  • Bay to Bay Yacht Race.  Paddling, getting lost and stuck on sandbars.  Thanks Dave Fordham.

In conclusion, I would just say that I believe I was very fortunate to be a part of FCOCC history. I have some very fond and not so fond memories of that time but all in all I believe I was greatly blessed to be a part of it.

Many thanks to all my friends for your support and friendship in that era and now.

by Ian Leslie