At the AGP last week, Andrea and Dene Bergman announced their retirement from DBSC. It’s hard to imagine a club without their smiling faces. To say they will be missed is a huge understatement – they’ve been a vital part of the of the positive spirit and energy of DBSC for over 30 years.
Their journey began in the mid 1980s, when, at age 45, Dene joined the Port Hacking Open Sailing Club and learnt sail on a Heron. Not so long after he became interested in a new design sail boat called the Leader. The only club to form a fleet was Double Bay. Thus, he joined and trailed his Leader from Gymea to DBSC for the Sunday races. The Leader did not grow in the numbers expected and the Laser became the class of choice on Sundays, with the slightly more numerous Herons racing on Saturdays. But the Laser guys (all men then) wanted to sail on Saturdays. There was an unpleasant upheaval the likes of which have luckily no equal in club years since.
The Lasers eventually had the numbers (about ten actives, but normally around seven) and DBSC became a Saturday Laser sailing club.
Dene started to do some minor maintenance around the premises and was asked to join the committee as Safety Officer and got involved at the club more deeply. His specialty was keeping the response boats in reasonable serviceability; a reflection of his Airline job where continuous operation is essential.
Andrea, fed up with being home alone on Saturdays, came along and joined the canteen crew, where she has been serving up the best toasties on the planet ever since. The couple will still be nearby, with Dene continuing his volunteer role at the Marine Rescue communications centre at Terrey Hills and Andrea continuing to cook up a storm for her family and friends.
DBSC will not be the same without this dynamic duo. We’re not saying goodbye, because we’re sure we can lure them back for a special occasion or two. But in the meantime, here are some thoughts from some long-time members:
The Double Bay Sailing Club has been fortunate to have some very dedicated members and the best example of that are Dene and Andrea. The friendship we have enjoyed includes swatting cockroaches in the old kitchen with its bare essentials.
Andrea will be remembered for providing the ‘baked treats’ for all to share; that has endeared her to everyone. A special relationship between Paul and Andrea is undefined, but full of interesting interaction.
What I will miss is the range of topics discussed in the kitchen, which included world affairs, politics, recipes, books, family, New Zealand rugby and what is the name of that new person!?
To turn up every Saturday and then again on Sunday for the 18’s to make 100s of sandwiches has been a huge commitment considering the two hour round trip required. As a friend and fellow ‘side kick‘ in the Toastie Department it has been more about fun and delivering the goods in a happy place.
As a couple Dene and Andrea are inseparable and both share a love affair with the Club and each other. I will miss them both.
Julian Van Aalst
It was a sad day for me when Dene and Andrea retired and I guess also for Paul, Shirley and Jonathan
Like Paul and Shirley (and Don of course) we treasured the privilege of not just being members of a unique club in one of the World’s best Harbours, but we also had imbued a strong work ethic and commitment towards the upkeep and maintenance of the Club.
Dene was always the master of the ribs and radios, Andrea (they were each other’s alter ego) never had to be asked to contribute. She just did.
In addition to Dene’s obvious talent with all things mechanical, he also undertook the task of overseeing the trophies -- old and new.
He was so obsessed with making sure everything was shipshape, he had a sign made which was installed in the men’s change room toilet above the toilet roll holder, providing clear written and diagrammatical instructions on the proper way to mount toilet rolls on the holder!!!
Now that I think of it, I have never seen Andrea sailing or on any boat, but she was there with Dene during every sailing season, helping out.
One event which stands out for me was the World Laser Master Regatta in Roses, Spain (about mid-way between Barcelona and the French border).
Dene and Andrea were there along with a reasonably large number of members from DBSC. We all stayed in the same hotel. On one lay day, all of us from DBSC got a ferry to somewhere I cannot recall. We were chatting together and we walked along the foreshore of a small bay when it came to lunchtime. We saw a small, interesting café which was closed, but with somebody inside. Mark B, with encouragement from all of us, and especially from Dene and Andrea, knocked on the door. With his not inconsiderable charm, Mark persuaded whoever, to open the café for us Aussies from DBSC. As a result we were provided with a wonderful lunch sitting outside where we spent an easy afternoon testing Spanish vino.
On the way back to the ferry we walked past Salvador Dali’s house, which had an old broken dinghy opposite the front door with a large tree standing gracefully standing inside the dinghy. The trip back on the ferry was also memorable, with the crew providing the passengers with wonderful Spanish Sherry and nibbles included in the fare.
We will miss them.
Dene and Andrea have been stalwarts of the club for many years, and collectively embody a substantial part of its history and the ethos of the small, amateur member based sporting organisation. Amateur is meant in the best meaning of the term, to reflect their selfless contribution - there is nothing amateur about the work they have done.
I first got to know them with the demise of Sunday racing, when I joined the Saturday crowd. Since that time we have formed a trio during the racing: Dene at his station at the west end and Andrea and I at the east.
Dene's contribution has been enormous with his work on the club response boats, the radios and as general handy person -- there only had to be a suggestion for some improvement in our functionality and within a fortnight it would appear. From the shelves above the sandwich preparation area to the strategically situated wall mounted beer bottle openers. Not only do these improvements display his mechanical skills, but they have often been accompanied by apposite cartoons. On those afternoons when he has been afloat on one of the RIBS, during lulls in radio traffic, Dene could always be guaranteed to broadcast a little song.
Andrea and I shared the kitchen with the best view in Sydney, providing endless opportunities for observing and commenting on the local wildlife, from the welcome swallows assembling on the deck to little terns diving into shoals of little fish. In recent years, our observations have extended to the passing parade of patrons of the Island -- sights which Andrea, as a properly bought up South Islander, never expected to see.
Andrea's skills in baking have regularly been enjoyed on Saturdays, but in addition to taking care of the Laser sailors’ culinary needs, Andrea has been a regular for the annual mayhem of the 18s World Championship, the JJ Giltenan. During the Championship she has been an enthusiastic barracker for NZ (which in 2019 finally paid off with the first NZ victory over a series in Australian waters). This service extends back to the days of the original canteen on the west side of the club, which on a good day might be described as 'cosy' and on a bad day cramped -- a far cry from the new kitchen.
In 'retirement' I hope that both Dene and Andrea will, as Life Members, continue to maintain an interest in the goings on in the little blue shed (not that is has always been blue), but they will certainly maintain a sporting interest by following the fortunes of New Zealand and Christchurch rugby, and if they find a channel which carries Welsh rugby, Llanelli, at Parc y Scarletts.
We all owe them a great debt of gratitude!
Dene and Andrea have been part of DBSC, and part of its soul, since the 1980s - I don’t remember exactly when. I joined in that period and, in my memory, they have always been there. Dene was an aircraft engineer for Qantas - I remember that, during one of his few long absences from sailing and serving the Club, Qantas flew him to France for several months of an engineer’s training on a new aircraft that the airline was acquiring, probably an Airbus.
His skills were invaluable to the Club - if something needed fixing, do it now, do it well, fix it back to new or better. Dene’s focus was always on radios and response boats - two key parts of our safety and service infrastructure - but really he was the go-to Committee member for so much more; flags and sound signals and systems of doing things. Don Roach, during his long term as President, created the Rear Commodore position on the Management Committee for Dene, his contributions were recognised in the several traditions of recognition that the Club has developed. But his work for the Club continued long after Dene had earned the full swag of Club awards, and added enormously to the Club. Dene was a Laser sailor in the years I first knew him, an important member of a then-small fleet, but his contributions to the Club were multifaceted - he will be much missed, an extraordinary example-to-be-remembered of generous service.
Andrea quickly became a key member of the kiosk team. Occasionally, I have sailed from clubs where the sailing was fine but, while there was a kitchen, there were no volunteers; there was no hot soup after a cold southerly, nothing fresh, no service, no friendly face to chat to, no barbecues or free home-baked goodies (Andrea’s specialty), no one who remembered how I like my sandwich done. Andrea, with Shirley and Paul and all those who run the kiosk, create a ’shore base’ that is as important to the Club as anything else we do; providing not just the welcome of hot food, but an important presence on shore on which - in my time on response boats - I have come much to rely. Who’s ashore? who must we look out for? can you organise for someone or something to come out to the start boat? We have been lucky to have them.
Occasionally - very occasionally - Dene’s cheerfulness was challenged by some clumsy sailor who had broken something, or ignored something or just failed to understand the thought and care that Dene had brought to solving a problem. Somehow Dene’s cheerfulness was always more robust when Andrea was around. Together - they have long been grandparents to uncounted grandkids and have dealt with all the challenges of the generations - they have been - they are - more together than the sum of the two of them. The Club has been lucky to have them, and for so long; and we will feel their absence all the more.
My time at DBSC spans only 20 years - Dene and Andrea have been here since the first piles were driven and were two of the first to welcome me in the late 1990s. I remember the regard Don Roach as Commodore had for both Dene and Andrea and I certainly relied heavily on them during my brief stint as Commodore when we extended the Clubhouse.
They are the type of people who make this little Club great - always the first to volunteer, tireless and never seeking recognition for their (major) contributions. As a former Qantas avionics engineer, Dene has done a fantastic job over the years with all matters mechanical and electrical. Outboard motors get serviced, radios installed and maintained, ground tackle for our course buoys replaced, RIBs retubed and a myriad of other things that we tend to take for granted but which are mission critical to sailing operations at Double Bay.
And it is hard to imagine DBSC without Andrea’s smiling face in the canteen, serving the world’s best toasties and preparing for aprés Club Championship BBQs, not to mention the sweet treats she has baked for us each Saturday for as long as I can remember.
Life membership is an honour our Club bestows sparingly but there are no more worthy recipients than Dene and Andrea. While they are now officially “retiring” I am sure the atmosphere and camaraderie of our little Club will lure them back on occasion and we will all be delighted to welcome them to their Club.