Members of The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania on Wednesday evening will elect Ms Marion COOPER as their first woman Commodore in the 123-year history of one of Australia's oldest yacht clubs.
Marion, who has previously held the Flag positions of Vice-Commodore and Rear-Commodore, takes over from Commodore Robert 'Biddy' BADENACH, who has completed the fourth year of his second term as Commodore of the club, based in Hobart's riverside suburb of Sandy Bay. She takes over as Commodore as the RYCT prepares to host a significantly larger fleet for the 60th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht, followed by the third annual Sailing South Race Week.
The new Commodore brings with her an outstanding background in administration, in business and in yachting, as well as great enthusiasm for the long traditions of the sport of sailing in Tasmanian waters.
In particular, Marion has played a major role in the RYCT's successful bid to extend its marina at Sandy Bay and will follow this through to fruition during her term as Commodore.
As the first woman elected to the Board of the RYCT, Marion showed immediate flair as a member of the Finance, House and Social Committees, going on to become the first woman Rear Commodore.
Marion's sailing background has mostly been enjoying the cruising waters of southern Tasmania with her husband, Dr Des COOPER, himself a former Commodore of the RYCT and a noted ocean racing yachtsman in the 1970's.
Upon being elected Vice-Commodore she set about learning everything about the sailing administration of the club, not only ashore but also afloat as part of the committee boat team for club races, regattas and Australian and World Championships.
However, it is perhaps her role as the Club's spokesperson on the marina development that has brought her administrative skills to the fore, with her untiring work and lobbying of the Hobart City Council resulting in the Council approving the marina, which was subsequently upheld on appeal.
As retiring Commodore 'Biddy' BADENACH commented, "many people incorrectly perceived the club as being full of rich old buggers sipping pink gins; she quickly dispelled those perceptions.'"
Praising Marion's roles as Rear-Commodore and then Vice-Commodore, he added. "Her efforts over the past 12 months blew away any opposition to having a woman as Commodore. Marion is a no-nonsense person, but very fair, who will be just the person to drive the marina to completion."
Retiring Commodore Badenach will continue as Chairman of the RYCT's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Committee, but new Commodore Cooper and her husband this year will have to give up a long-standing Sydney Hobart role - as the always warm welcoming team for visiting sailors at the RYCT Information Centre at Constitution Dock.