Judy Gilligan and Kai Robinson honoured by Classic Boating Society.

Classic Boating Society honours two members

Judy Gilligan and Kai Robinson honoured for their dedication

At its first Annual General Meeting, held Oct. 26 at the Prestige Hotel, the Sooke Classical Boating Society recognized the contributions of two of its members with honourary lifetime Memberships. More than 40 society members were in attendance for the presentations.

Judy Gilligan was recognized for her hard work over the past decade. In 2004 she took on the role of chair of the Maritime Committee, which then had responsibility for the longboats, Dona Rosa and T’Sou-ke. This was at a time when the Longboat Program was struggling. Over the next few years she was instrumental in organizing longboat participation in major events, such as the Classic Wooden Boat Show and the Tall Ship Festivals in 2005 and 2008, and in training students for the Pacific Challenge held in Sooke in 2006.

She has been very active in the recruitment of new members and in fund raising. Most recently she was a member of the group that undertook to create and register the new Classical Boating Society when the Edward Milne Community School Society divested themselves of the longboats and for the past year has served as a director and treasurer.

The award was present by Sheila Nicholson who noted Judy’s ability to motivate others and to provide the leadership needed to undertake initiatives.

Also recognized was Kai Robinson for his contributions to the Longboat Program.

Kai began with the longboats in 1994 at age 12. Following his training he “graduated” to six years of service with the tall ships, Pacific Grace and Pacific Swift, first as a volunteer and then as a professional seaman. Kai had returned to assist the Longboat Program, providing both training for crew members and leadership as Coxswain for major events and festivals. He was also active in the Pacific Challenge, being named Best Coxswain at Port Townshend in 2004, and assisting with the training of students for the challenge held in Sooke. Kai is appreciated by all who have served with him for his personal qualities, seamanship and leadership ability.

In awarding the lifetime membership the society is recognizing Kai as an exemplary role model for young people.

The award was presented to Kai by Maywell Wickheim, a director and the society’s senior member.

“I can say without a doubt that my time with these boats and this community of people has been life changing. The confidence, skill and character I’ve gained from being involved has been of immense value to me in all aspects of my life,” said Robinson.

Chairperson Garth Gilligan reported favourably on the society’s progress and achievements in its first year. Efforts have been made to further involve the larger community. Membership has risen to over 60, and includes not only active or boating members, but also patrons who support the longboats through their interest in them as part of Sooke’s heritage.

A new website has been created and can be accessed at www.sookeclassicalboatingsociety.ca. This attractive site is still developing but contains all the information for anyone who wants to know more or who wants to become a member. The society is fortunate to have the voluntary services and expertise of Deb Clay who created the site and maintains it.

The society has been able to accommodate student groups, both international and local, for outings on the boats, and has also worked with youth outreach. In the coming year the society hopes to expand its interaction with young people and will undertake to find partners and funding to assist in this regard.

A significant donation was received from the Subaru Triathlon organizers; the society provided 25 members to supervise various stations along the routes. The society was successful in obtaining a grant from the District of Sooke to purchase a new cover for one of the longboats.

Recognition was also made of the ongoing and essential support of Sooke Marine Industries. SMI continues to assist with the moorage for the Dona Rosa and T’Sou-ke and provides such important services as haul-outs without charge. Mr. Wickheim also provides technical advice as needed.

Submitted by Garth Gilligan