Bill Allen Retires from MHYC Sailing Committee
Bill Allen has been an active sailing member at MHYC since 1976 In addition, he has also spent considerable time in on various yachting committees, helping to improve our sport.
Around the mid-80's Bill first started working with our Safety Inspector John Taylor, helping to inspect boats. Bill joined the MHYC Sailing Committee a little on 20 years ago and has been our Chief Special Regulation Office Representative on the YNSW Special Regulations Committee ever since.
For a while he was also on our Protest Committee and presided over many club and international protests. He was amazed at just how many owners (often famous) did not know the rules well.
Bill, at just on 90 has decided to retire from the MHYC and YNSW committees this year. We would just like to thank him for all the work that he has done for us over the past years. Bill is a quite achiever and his two biggest voluntary tasks at our club can sometimes be difficult and thankless.
Frank Walker (from YNSW Special Regulations Committee) said "We are very sad to see him go. Bill was an excellent mentor and very diligent. He always had a good point of view and asked appropriate interesting questions".
We at MHYC would not like to thank you Bill for all your efforts. You are a true gentleman and have demonstrated great professionalism and fairness in all the work you have done for us and the whole yachting community.
Bill's love of sailing in VJ dinghies at Kogarah Bay Sailing Club whilst he was still at school. A kid at Bill's school asked him if he wanted to come sailing in his VJ and Bill jumped at the idea.
He left school in 1943 and joined the Navy at the age of 17. He spent 3 years in the Australian Royal Navy as a seaman on the HMAS Glenelg. Bill served on her on patrols in New Guinea, Manus Islands, Dutch East Indies, Borneo and the Philippines to name just a few countries.
As a result of serving in the war, serviceman (including Bill) were given the opportunity to go to university under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme (CRTS) scheme. This was a game changer for Bill. In 1047, he went to Sydney University to study for an Arts, Dip Ed degree and after that was a teacher for a year. They were paid an allowance of3 pounds 5 pence per week and did not have to pay university fees. Bill came out majoring in Psychology and History.
After spending a year teaching, he joined the Army, specialising in Army education. He was then asked to join the Psychology unit and soon became Captain. Their role was mainly in recruiting and counselling.
Whilst in his last year at University, he met the love of his life Marg, but they spent the next 3 years apart whist he was in the Army. After returning to Sydney he married Marg in 1956.
Bill resumed his sailing career post war (around 1949) and sailed a VS at Gunnamatta Sailing Club (near Cronulla). In 1956, he took up yacht racing and raced with the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club on boat called Eos.
By 1968, Bill was working for Travelodge Australia and was posted in New Zealand. He first bought a 30' cruising boat named Spirit. Then he decided to get into yacht racing and bought a 28' Half Ton Spencer Design boat called Sarafin.
Not satisfied with that he went on to build a 30' Half Tonner called Prodigy. It is on this boat that he proudly boasts that he beat Tiggy (Gilbert Thomas) in the Half Ton Cup in 1973. They were first on handicap, but lost a protest to make them 4th. It was the time that "Blooper' sails (introduced to Bill by Chris Bouzaid) first appeared. Apparently theirs was not tacked down properly so they were blown out.
Returning to Sydney in 1976, Bill joined the Middle Harbour Yacht Club, sailing on a Hood 23 owned by Jerry Smith. In 1978, he bought a 32 foot boat called Kraken and sailed with the MHYC inshore fleet, followed by Humdinger (East Coast 30) and then Humdinger 3 (Pawtucket) in the early 80's.
For a short time in mid-80's he bought Brunhilde (3759), before selling it to his friend and fellow MHYC club member John Taylor. During that time he replace the tiller with a steering wheel.
In the late 1980's he bought Otago and sailed competitively offshore with MHYC for 5 years. In those days, every 4th race was a long offshore race. In 1989, he lent the boat to 2 of his women crew who were part of the group Women on Water (WOW) including Kathy Hawkins, Vanessa Dudley, Chris Evans and Nicky Bethwaite. The first night out they did 10 headsail changes which tired them out for the rest of the trip. Otaga was a big heavy boat, however they finished.
In early 1990's Bill bought Seadancer (a Farr 1220) which was a wing keeled boat and raced offshore for another 4-5 years. Bill knew Bruce Farr well from his New Zealand days and says he was proud to beat him a few times.
Another change in 1997 when Bill bought SeaJay with Scott Wheelhouse. They campaigned it competitively offshore, but had a disastrous 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
There were about 100 miles into Bass Strait, when they had to turn around. Scott had agreed to take a young bloke along and he became grievously ill, so they had to turn around. On their way back Scott went over the side first. He was trying to deploy the sea anchor to slow the boat down. The boat was thrown on its side and the cabin was pitch black. When it righted again Scott had gone overboard - he was tethered on, but his life harness buckle broke. Luckily on his way over he grabbed at the small string on the life sling and hung on. The crew had to pull him aboard on this precariously thin line. They wrapped him in a space blanket for a few hours so he could warm up.
Then Bill was washed overboard. He was steering and had a double harness on which was attached to a Jackstay across the back. They had no sails up and they were surfing down the waves. At the time Louise (one of the crew members) was calling the waves and they she called out !!!!!!!!. A big wave hit Bill and he went over the side into the water, but still attached to his double harness. "I shall never forget it" says Bill, "It was extremely scary". "The boat was going up and down. When it was up I could see it below me, then when it was down, I was above it!" It took the crew about 10 minutes to get him aboard, and his only injury was his shoulder- very lucky.
After the Hobart, Scott bought the other half of SeaJay and Bill purchased Brunhilde back again in 2000. This time for just cruising and pottering around.
We wish Bill and Marg the best for the future and hope to see you still pottering around the Yacht Club.