Royal Papua Yacht Club, Life Members



In May 1973 Philip Spradbery and his family exchanged the snow of Tasmania for the tropical heat of Port Moresby on what was supposed to be a 3 year assignment for CSIRO. Twelve years later, Philip finally departed from Papua New Guinea.

As a Hobart yachtie and member of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the Spradbery’s joined the then Papua Yacht Club as soon as they arrived and within a month bought the 24 foot Van der Stadt “Caprice”. Caprice was campaigned for several years until the pressures of weekend work with the dreaded screw-worm fly forced Philip to sell her. Caprice was runner-up in the Season’s point score, won several trophy series and was winner of the South Pacific Ocean Classic in 1974. After selling Caprice Philip sailed several seasons with Alan Wallis on the 60-foot “Even”. He even dabbled with the lightweight “Sharpie” with skipper Ian Harvey and owned an Arafura Cadet in which number one son Mathew had considerable success. He then owned the M.V. “Tiki” – “the next best thing to a yacht!”

On the international front, Philip represented PNG in the first Southern Cross Cup sailing the Cole 43 “Bacardi” in the 1975 Hobart race when “Kialoa” established the race record. “It was kit up in Sydney, gybe around Tasmania, Light and kite down at the finish line in Hobart – quite a race”. The following year, Philip sailed with Brian Jagger on the Cole 31 “Vanessa” which was a much more challenging Sydney-Hobart race. In 1977, Philip skippered “Vanessa” in the world ½ ton Cup sailed off Sydney, taking Lieutenant Commander Francis Molean of the PNG Defence Force as navigator – the first Papua New Guinean to sail for PNG internationally.

During the next few years, Philip got more and more involved with yachting administration, organizing the Cairns to Port Moresby Yacht Races in particular. He was also secretary of the PNG Yachting Association for the next 3 years.

In 1974 the executive of the PYC invited Philip to fill a casual vacancy on the Committee and with one year’s break he was on the Executive of the Club throughout his stay in PNG. He was Rear Commodore in 1975, Commodore for the 1976 / 77; Assistant Secretary for 2 years; Vice Commodore for 2 year and Commodore again in 1984. During his first term as Commodore, Philip negotiated the Royal title for the Club.

Being something of a closet public relations man, Philip established the monthly newsletter in 1976 and was editor for many years. He also edited the Club Yearbook and provided much of the photographic coverage of club events for publications, the press and embellishing the clubhouse walls.

Philip Spradbery’s major interest in the activities of the Club have centred on relocation and an all-weather marina. He even went to England for an international Marinas Conference in 1981 to gain first-hand information on the State of the Art in marina construction and was a member of the Nation Yacht Harbours Association in the UK. He had been on the Club’s Relocation Committee since 1974 and saw various plans come and go. When asked, he admitted that the concept of a reclaimed island within the harbour was the most exciting and practical plan for the long-term future of the Yacht Club.

In 1983 Philip was made an Honorary Life Member of the RPYC. When asked what the highlights of his long association with the Club were, Philip replied “Winning the Yule Island race; finishing the Hobart races; the Yachtsman of the Year award [1982] and the success of the Marina”. Sadly Philip passed away on 11 July 2019.