From the President’s Deck [43]

By Norm Sanders

Many years ago, in a time when the world was far more innocent, a young sea kayaker was elected to the Presidency of Australia’s premier Sea Kayak Club, the NSWSKC.

It has to be said that the election was not a hard-fought one, as there were no other nominees. Over the years, the youthful sea kayaker’s beard grew longer and greyer.

He saw Fishkiller and Dave Whyte come and go as Editor. He watched in dismay as, one after the other, Arunas Pilka, Doug Fraser and Jan Murrell bent and finally broke on the wheel of the Secretary-Treasurer’s position.

He wept, for he loved these stalwarts. But, as these worthies fell, others, just as virtuous picked up the standard and sallied forth. Ian Phillips and Stuart Trueman met the challenge as did Nick Gill.

The President might have flagged as well except for the unswerving support (and occasional nagging) of the tireless Vice President and Training Officer, Dave Winkworth.

He also profited greatly from the advice furnished by that wise, hard-working and largely unsung hero, Internet Co-ordinator (and former Trips Convenor) Andrew Eddy.

Over the years, the President and his fellow Executive members took the Club over the hurdles of liability, insurance, constitutional change and freedom of the press.

To be sure, not all were happy with his performance. He didn’t ignore these criticisms, but evaluated them thoroughly before rejecting them (a marked improvement over his youthful days when he would have rejected them immediately).

The years rolled on. Younger, more vigorous members came and went, but the now venerable sea kayaker still sat on the throne, eyes dimming, high braces weakening.

He considered the words of the Noble Bard, “Crabbed age and youth cannot live together: Youth is full of pleasance, age is full of care.”

“The time has come,” the old President decided one day, as the cold wintry water poured down the torn neck of his ancient and tattered dry top while performing the mandatory end of paddle roll lest the Training Officer might be lurking in the dunes.

His resolution now firm, he announced his intention of retiring at the end of his present term.

The reaction to this bombshell has not been recorded as yet, but is bound to appear, ripped to satirical shreds, on the chat line.

“Will the antediluvian President now disappear?” they ask.

Nay – his grey and ghostly shape will still hover in the background, grumbling occasionally. He will build more kayaks, maybe get another motorcycle (although he is getting increasingly fond of his Triumph Bonneville).

For as that other American, Benjamin Franklin observed, “Old boys have their playthings as well as young ones, the difference is only in price.”

And so, it is time to say farewell. And thank you.

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