by Yachting WA
Bernie Kaaks – Recipient of the Prestigious David Walters Memorial Medallion
The annual Yachting WA awards night was held on Friday 11th May 2012 at the Royal Perth Yacht Club. During the ceremonies, dignitaries and invited guests witnessed the awarding of the David Walters Memorial Medallion to Bernie Kaaks.
Bernie Kaaks, a member of South of Perth Yacht Club has contributed significantly to the sport of sailing for more than two decades in various roles and areas. His interest in race management and organisation grew initially from his sailing membership at Koombana Bay Sailing Club, Bunbury in 1981.
Upon moving to Perth in 1982, Bernie joined South of Perth Yacht Club and gradually became involved in ‘behind the scenes’ organisation and finally joined the structured race management group where his organisational skills were put to good use.
Bernie attained Race Officer accreditation in the late 90’s and served on the Yachting Association of WA (now Yachting WA) Race Management Committee until mid-2008.
During this period he has served as the Race Officer and Principal Race Officer of numerous in-shore and off-shore events including the Geographe Bay Race Weeks since 2006, the World Disabled Sailing Championships (2006), the Fremantle Darwin Splash event, Geraldton Return Races and various state, national and international Class Association Championships and club sailing regattas.
He supported the 1997 Whitbread Race stopover and also assisted UK PRO Tim Hedges during the Perth stopover of the 2005 Clipper Round the World Race. Last year he volunteered valued assistance to Trevor Milton, PRO for the resurrected Fremantle Bali Race and has joined the official organising team for the 2013 Fremantle Bali Race.
Bernie’s involvement in numerous offshore distance races is well documented; he has been a key player in dealing with incidents or, more specifically, the prevention of accident and incident. Safety at sea is of prime consideration to Bernie whose judgement, control and risk management within the racing community is well acknowledged.
Bernie has assessed race officers, conducted race management seminars in the metropolitan and regional areas and addressed risk management at club, regatta and ocean racing levels.
Inextricably linked with the safety of all sailing and boating events is radio support. Bernie’s authoritive command, clarity and dependable defence across the radio waves are equally well recognised. From club racing on the Swan to the distance ocean racing of the Darwin Splash event, his radio racing coverage has been acknowledged.
In 2004 he joined the Yachting WA Board of Management to fill a vacancy, representing Offshore and Trailable Yachts. He served the YWA Board until August 2006.
His sailing experience includes club racing in small to medium keelboats and offshore racing as a special navigator although these day he is more likely to be found in the race officials boat and with his camera near at hand.
In all events Bernie has displayed the attributes one might expect from someone with his experience. He is well prepared, thoroughly efficient and proficient and is an excellent communicator; attributes which have won him respect from competitors and organisers alike.
He maintains a good understanding and application of the rules, procedures and policies and carefully bases all his decisions and actions upon the rules and principles of fairness, objectivity and safety.
The David Walters Memorial Medallion was instituted by the Yachting WA Board of Management in 2005 to recognise Dr David Walters.
Dr. Walters was a very well respected member of the Yachting WA Board of Management for seventeen (17) years and also served the Western Australian boating community for thirteen (13) years as Chairman of Yachting WA’s Safety Committee.
David and his wife Kath died in a tragic boating accident off Rottnest Island in January 2005.
In his honour, the Board struck a medallion to commemorate his contribution and at the same time recognise significant work performed by members of the yachting community in years to come.
The David Walters Memorial Medallion was previously awarded only twice and last awarded in 2008.