Concord & Ryde Sailing Club Inc

Jim Simpson

Jim Simpson - 2017

A nomination for Life Membership of Jim Simpson was made by Chris Gildersleeve at the CRSC AGM held on 13th July, 2017.

Chris commenced by saying “one of CRSC’s fantastic assets is Bennelong Park and Beach. These allow for substantial room for rigging and when I first joined CRSC in 2000 for launching our fleet. Regrettably, over the past 17 years our beach has deteriorated due to the unrelenting onslaught of the wake of the River Cats We have seen the beach move from being soft and sandy to a hard and rocky area creating a significant danger at mid to high tide not to mention long queues at launching time.

One of our number, Jim Simpson, started to record the deterioration of our beach. He built a significant portfolio to demonstrate the environmental degradation. He collected data, sought out advice and researched solutions. When someone was needed to step up and act as our advocate with authorities Jim readily put himself forward. Armed with a portfolio of photos spanning 40 years of our beach, and documents contained in three arch folders, he fought hard to drive a solution that would meet our goal of restoring our beach. He had been preparing for this challenge well before the calls to arms.

The authorities recognised the problem, after significant advocacy and agreed something needed to be done. They offered a multitude of solutions, including construction of ramps, pontoons and other approaches; but not the restoration of the beach. Jim knew these solutions would not meet our needs, if anything they would further deteriorate our asset. Jim reached out to his growing network of those concerned about the destruction of the Parramatta riverfront finding knowledgeable people who could help develop a solution. With a sustainable solution Jim took on the engineers on their interactive whiteboard, walking them through the history of the beach, highlighting the inadequacy of their proposals and then demonstrating how the beach could be restored by turning the River Cat wake back on itself through the construction of groynes.

The engineers agreed to review the solution. On 11th January, 2017 our Beach Committee, chaired by Jim, met with RMS, their engineers and Ryde Council, to review the outcome of the engineers’ consideration of Jim’s solution. The engineers agreed that Jim’s solution was the pathway to restoring the beach. The RMS agreed that the solution would be funded, and Ryde Council would act as the project manager to restore Bennelong Beach. The project plan provides for the groynes to be in place for our 2018/19 season.

The hard work has been done, we have a commitment after many years of agitating to restoring our beach to a sandy launching area, a rarity for a River Club. Without the continual focus, planning and attention to detail by Jim I sincerely believe CRSC would not have managed to obtain the significant financial commitment for beach restoration from the authorities. Jim’s passion has achieved a remarkable result.

Jim joined CRSC in 1979. He’s always been a Cat sailor with us. Back in the 1980s he was part of a 50 strong Cat fleet. Jim left us for a while from 1999, re-joining in 2007. But Jim is more than a Cat sailor, he’s a member who is always there to help, always driving the social cohesion of the Club, and happy to ambush passers-by to help them see what a wonderful community we are. He once ambushed Anthony Roberts as he and his family were out for a stroll, helping ignite our strong relationship with our local member.”

Chris then said that he was privileged to nominate Jim Simpson to be a Life Member of CRSC. This was seconded by Ron Burwood and passed by the members.

Jim was elected as an Ordinary Member on the Management Committee for the 2010/11 season and has continued in this capacity until the 2023/24. He continues to sail his Catamaran.

The groyne was built being finished in December, 2019 and is reasonably successful. Jim is still trying to get a second one built and is in constant negotiations with authorities.