There’s a new addition to the Bowen Island Yacht Club (BIYC), and it’s already making waves in the local sailing community.
The BIYC officially took command of the Brigadier on Christmas Eve, receiving it via donation from fellow boaters Stephen Ramsay and Connie Hol. The 35-foot C&C boat was built in 1970, though you’d never guess it was over a half-century old by its well-maintained condition.
The buzz around the acquisition was palpable. Counting 19 annual members prior to Brigadier’s arrival, this number has more than doubled in size to 43. “Most of that is because of Brigadier and the energy Brigadier has brought to the club,” says BIYC executive Brad Hawthorn.
And the club knows exactly how they want to put the new vessel to use. “Where can I learn to sail? Where can I get out on a boat?” These are the questions club Commodore Simon Fowler says he hears the most.
That’s the role Brigadier will serve, through a number of avenues. One of these is an adult version of the already popular Learn2Sail program for kids. Run with the use of Tunstall Bay Community Association facilities, the summer program has been in operation more than 20 years. Each year it teaches around 100 kids aged 7-16 the basics of sailing.
The adult version won’t be accredited at first, but still plans to give participants a thorough grasp of boating basics. Areas of instruction will include docking, anchoring, points of sail, and boat maintenance.
“That’s what it’s for, to get people into sailing if we can,” says Fowler.
It’s not all work though. The club is also looking to promote the social side of sailing, and plans to implement a shared usage model for enjoying Brigadier, along with planned day or overnight cruises. Hawthorn says several people expressed interest in just hanging out on the water.
“Kind of like a co-op, but creating a community,” explains Hawthorn of the club’s goal. “Doing that as the primary function helps pay for the upfront costs.”
And of course there is the racing angle too. Brigadier is race-ready and, if all goes to plan, will participate in this year’s Round Bowen race, BIYC’s premier event.
The race draws over 100 boats to the mass starting line. It’s a celebratory occasion, held the second Saturday of June. But the past two years the race has been cancelled due to COVID. There’s cautious optimism it will return this summer.
Through the racing, adult skill classes, and social opportunities, BIYC is hoping to swell their numbers - and Bowen boating interests - to new heights.
“We want this boat to be the one that’s off the dock in this marina the most, of all boats here,” says Hawthorn.
As of press time there was one spot left in the club for full Brigadier membership, though any regular BIYC member is welcome to participate in the classes and group outings. Anyone interested can find contact information on the BIYC website or their Facebook group.
“We acquired the boat to help build a community of sailors,” says Fowler.