A Short History of the QLD

  • Club
  • NEWS
  • By Ross Macdonald
  • 28 Aug 2017 18:56:43


The Quiet Little Drink (QLD) was the definition of yachty hedonism. And even better, it was “all for a good cause”. Started in 1969 this was the kind of event that counted the number of beers consumed during each iteration.

As the years passed however, the impact of the QLD extended beyond “drinking the Derwent dry” and led to some extremely worthwhile and important contributions to the CYCA and the home from home of our great race, Tasmania. This is a short history of the QLD.

To celebrate the completion of the 1969 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and extend the New Year celebrations for yachties, Tony Cable and John Dawson organised a quiet little drink with fellow competitors at a local bar in Hobart. 1,467 beers were consumed and overnight a notorious institution was born.

The organisers knew that if the event was to extend to future iterations, a more positive outcome was required. And so, the Quiet Little Drink became a charity event where donations were requested, and as the number of guests grew year on year, so too did the charitable coffers.

Fun and entertainment was at the core of QLD with the resident jazz band given regulars breaks as attendees took their turn on the microphone, singing songs, telling jokes or performing acts often rehearsed and refined by the crews on their journey down the east coast and into Hobart.

As the QLD progressed through the 70’s and into the 80’s the number of beers consumed at each event grew exponentially with the reputation for notoriety also increasing. Similarly, the money raised for good causes also swelled.

For every one of the aforementioned reasons, the QLD was often in the spotlight. An ABC documentary highlighted the camaraderie and fun behind it (“It has been said that the Hobart race is the way of getting yachts to the Quiet Little Drink”), while numerous stories and cartoons from media outlets such as The Mercury and The Australian helped develop its reputation and showcase its charitable impact. So great was the footprint of the event that a competitive race horse took its name, as did one of the early CYCA Youth Sailing Academy Elliotts.

Helping youth talent to find their way into ocean racing was a major goal of the QLD donations which of course incorporated the YSA, and continues to do so today. Interestingly, the trip of a young Tasmanian boy to compete in the UK’s Cowes Week and the 1989 Admiral’s Cup race was also funded by the QLD. That young boy was Matthew Johnston, current Commodore (Aug 2017) of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

The impactful donations were not restricted to sailing however, with the Royal Blind Society and Hobart Police Boy's Club being amongst the worthy beneficiaries.

After decades of New Year parties in Hobart, the QLD decided to extend operations to Sydney and, perhaps refined with age, the events took on a more formal fundraising format. The 1983 Rum and Scallop Pie Tasting was the first of its type and took the QLD into less treacherous waters with a purpose more closely linked to the supporting of ocean racing.

The second QLD sub-event was the Quiet Little Drink Cocktail Party which has since established its own tradition of recognising yachtswomen who have done their 10th Hobart races and yachtsmen or women who achieved their 25th, while YSA graduates who have taken part in their first are also celebrated.

In 2017 the Quiet Little Drink lives on with the upcoming Cocktail Party the latest opportunity for the older and younger generations of offshore sailors to celebrate the values of ocean racing. To be a part of a living piece of CYCA history, book your place here.

COST: Donation $30 per head to YSA, light nibbles included

WHEN: Friday 8 September 2017

WHERE: Freya and Morna Rooms, CYCA

RSVP: As soon as possible


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