Don Mickleborough honoured and celebrated

  • Social
  • By Jennifer Crooks
  • 12 Aug 2013 15:00:00

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and friends honoured Don Mickleborough on Friday night, August 9 at the Club, with the naming and unveiling of a plaque ‘Mickleborough’s Corner’, now placed where Mickleborough has held court with his sailing mates for some years.

Ocean Racing ‘blasts from the past’ attended the memorable naming of ‘Mickleborough’s Corner’, the brainchild of  Mickleborough’s friend Rob McAuley, an old Southerly crew mate and now co-owner of the yacht with another old friend and crew mate, John ‘Sherro’ Sheridan. Sherro, due to other commitments, was unable to attend the night.

The CYCA board was very much behind the project and arranged the hanging of the beautiful Huon Pine plaque it donated, to be hung at the naming ceremony in the corner of the Coasters Retreat.

Don Two’ (think Don Juan), as he is sometimes called by sailing mates, is in declining health, and hence the decision to arrange a fun night with all his mates. He arrived at the Club with daughter, Cathy, who also used to frequent the Club before she married and had children. Older daughter, Linda, lives in Melbourne and could not make it to Sydney for the night.

A member of the CYCA for 55 years, Mickleborough owned the now 75 year-old famous Huon Pine yacht ‘Southerly for 53 years, before passing it to his crew mates, McAuley and Sheridan in 2011 after sailing the Great Veterans Race – his last.

For the 88 year-old, the night was highlighted by a mix of great story telling and remembrances, with Mickleborough regularly cutting in “to tell my version,” and “to correct” others.   

After welcoming around 100 guests, MC, Peter Shipway handed over to sometime Southerly crew mate, Tony Cable, the Hobart race record holder (he’s done 47), to read the apologies.

Cable first asked for minute silence for long-time club member, QLD co-founder and friend, John Dawson, who died on Monday August 5.

Mickleborough, who thought he was attending a CYCA celebration of old sea salts, was truly chuffed when CYCA Vice Commodore, John Cameron, presented him with the plaque in front of so many old ocean racing greats.

“In view of Don’s longevity and standing at the Club, the committee and board thought it was entirely appropriate that this corner of the bar, where Don has drunk more than his fair share of scotch, will be named in his honour, so I’d formally like to name this Mickleborough’s Corner,” the Vice Commodore said.

Apart from stories being told, songs were also sung. Lew Carter surprisingly appeared behind the bar, sending his wife Gloria, a professional singer, to serenade Don with ‘You’ll Never Know Just How Much I Love You’ – bringing tears to a few eyes.   

To end the ‘official’ part of the night, the Southerly Song was sung by its crew. The words go:

First verse:

“Now if you see a yacht sailing from Double Bay,

It might be as well to keep out of the way.

You might hear them shouting,

You might hear them yell,

Look out for the Southerly floating hotel.”

Chorus: “Wowser’s shout, mothers yell,

‘look out for the Southerly floating hotel.’”

Last verse:

“There are many more versus to sing to this song.

But we think that we have been singing too long.

So now we will have us a well-deserved spell.

And buy you a drink on the floating hotel.

“Wowsers shout, mothers yell,

Look out for the Southerly floating hotel.”

Apart from Southerly crew, David ‘Stork’ Reid, Bruce ‘Jacko’ Jackson, Rob McAuley and Tony ‘Glark’ Cable, some of those ocean racing greats (some had a Hobart or two on Southerly) who came from far and wide to help Mickleborough celebrate included:

Sir James Hardy

Dick Logan

Nick Cassim

Ian Kiernan

Keith Tierney

Dick Gooch

Bob Brenac

Lesley Brydon

Maurie Cameron

Bill Riley

Bill Ratcliff – sailed on Southerly 1963

Tiare and Leilani Tomaszewski (granddaughters of the late Jack Earl) and their dad Mike

Lew and Gloria Carter

John ‘Steamer’ Stanley

Barney Steven

David and Kendi Kellett

Peter Bennetto, son of the late John ‘Fish’ Bennetto who was the first to attain 44 Hobarts (in 2004).

Carl Crafoord, son of the late Max Crafoord

Colin Betts

Don, who was born in Launceston and later moved to Sydney, also sailed aboard the famous Jack Rooklyn big boats of the time, Apollo and Ballyhoo, winning line honours aboard the later in 1976.

The night was a great success, photos were taken and video footage taken – will the book be written and movie rights bartered for next?

By Di Pearson



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