The Real Story

The real story will probably remain untold as there is very little to be gained after almost 7 years since I was removed in a most unpalatable and shameful manner from an Association I founded on 1 July 1996. It is not a matter of sour grapes as I had to give up sooner or later but just recently having turned 80 and still possess the entire history of Noelex yachts since their introduction in Australia late 1979 in hard copy, CD and DVD and computer file formats, there is a dilemma as to what to do with those records. Should I pass on at some future time, all will probably be deleted and discarded at the local tip.

Here then is a bit of history.

The 1970's and onwards was the period when trailable yachts seem to have been invented and new designs came on the market on a regular basis. I had learned my sailing skills in my native country, and after settling here, I tried my hand at a Sharpie and a couple of Flying Dutchman. Then came a marriage and a few children, putting an end to that career, at least for a while. The attraction to sailing returned and first I had a Comet20, followed by a Sonata7. The latter was a great family yacht but not really competitive in mixed fleets at the many regattas that existed during the remainder of the 20th century.

The Noelex25 first appeared late 70's and by the early 80's it became the most sought after type to own. The Noelex was roomy, was an aquatic caravan and an outstanding racer but was not cheap. So, saving was the order, sell the Sonata and place an order for a new boat. In my case the time frame was July 1985 and delivery from Kiwiland was early 1986.

I was a bank manager at the time and my skills in managing finances and organisation were quickly snapped up by the then Noelex Yacht Association of Victoria (NYAV). I was intrigued by the sheer numbers of '25s that were around already and wondered how many there really were as it was not even an Australian build boat.

I started research and was able to get hold of a copy of a New Zealand construction list which began at 501 whilst my Noelex was 867. This inspired me to commence a database from the first number built and how many may have found their way into Australia either new or second hand. All this took many years and the exercise came to an end by the end of 1997 as shown further below.

I became totally involved with NYAV, held various positions on committee and arranged Incorporation around 1994. By then NYAV Inc. had  membership of 67 boats which included a few Noelex30 but problems loomed in the fact that everyone wanted to go sailing but put in very little effort towards the wellbeing of the club. Computers as we know them today had not yet been invented and two finger typing was the order. For the newsletter we made cut-outs from magazines and glued those to a sheet of paper and typed items around them, took those pages to work using the photo copier and thus had reasonably good looking pages. These were then taken to a printing business where we placed an order for a number of copies, then collected, collated and sent to members as our bi-monthly newsletter.

All this was cumbersome at the time but o.k. for the size of our membership. Before long we received requests from Interstate owners asking to be placed on our mailing list. The norm became that they become members and pay the annual subscription of $20.00. Each newsletter cost us about $2.00 and half a dozen yearly would not leave much in surplus funds to cover other overheads.

Meanwhile or rather, quite a bit earlier, the New Zealand based builders of NX yachts became involved with grander interests and sold the entire Noelex industry, plans, patents and rights in 1987 to an Australia based outfit  which they named Noelex Yachts Australia Pty. Ltd. based in Goolwa SA.

That company built the first Aussie boat number 913 and was going great guns in the 1990's. I was also able to get a copy of their construction list, complete with names and addresses which enabled me eventually locate every NX25/30 that had ever been constructed. It was unfortunate that by the mid 90's the whole world was changing, cost of manufacturing sky rocketed and sales diminished to the point that the Company went into liquidation towards the end of 1997. In a way this completed my exercise establishing a complete database of every '25 ever constructed. My work continued to also do a similar exercise on NX30 boats which was also completed but not with as much detail of ownership since construction of each boat.

Going back a few years now to 1995 when NYAV came to a stage where it seemed prudent to propose that NYAV Inc. be disbanded, a new National body be created and all owners in Australia listed in my database be invited to join as members.

At the same time there was the ongoing threat that Australia would follow the European standard where a controlling body would require a financial contribution from yacht owners, large and small. This actually eventuated but is too long an exercise to describe but it is safe to say that the bottom line became a mandatory levy to be paid for every person aboard a yacht participating in an official race anywhere. I had spent some time in Europe in 1993 and had some knowledge how the system already worked over there.

By 1995 I made the proposal to NYAV Inc. to go National, dismantle it and rename it to Noelex Yacht Squadron Inc. (registered 1996) and trade as a new entity to become Noelex Yacht Association of Australia Inc. (registered 1996). The plan would be to have all owners being members of the latter whilst any of them wanting to participate in racing activities would be offered free membership of the Squadron except they would pay the additional levy required and which would be passed on to the governing body of the State. That method would prevent any non racing members becoming liable for that levy as NYAA Inc. would not register as an affiliate, rather use the Squadron for that purpose instead.

This was the path agreed to at the time, on 1 July 1996 the entire exercise was completed and that date became the birth of both entities with membership cost set at $50.00 for NYAA Inc. This was raised to $60.00 at the time when GST was introduced and remained at that figure permanently.

At commencement NYAV Inc transferred everything to NYAA Inc. including 67 members with a bank balance around $800.00 which was boosted with about $700.00 from the almost defunct NSW Association which was also wound up.

We now had some funds and spent $750.00 on a simple photo copier and a second hand printer costing $250.00. I had acquired a computer with a huge 20Mb hard disk space but it did the job. My son was at University studying to become a systems engineer and got some freebie disks for Dbase, Lotus 1-2-3 and followed shortly with a program named WYSIWYG by Microsoft.

By 1999 we were motoring but lack of participation in the workload continued. We passed 125 in member boats and I thought my mission was coming to an end. Since 1986 I had been deeply involved in racing in all those regattas at the time, had done 21 Marley Points, Nissan Series, Rye Capel Sound, Geelong/Queenscliff and so on. The labour market changed dramatically, permanent crew members could no longer be relied on to be available on weekends being 'on call' in a rapidly changing work environment, hence the time had come to part with "Petty Cash".

I informed the committee of my intention to leave by the end of the 1999 season and not be available for re-election in 2000 and besides, the workload had become too much for just myself and my wife Pauline to undertake the entire administration, newsletters, membership and so on. I had retired from the workforce but it was not my intention to be a volunteer administrator of what had become a successful club whilst the members were out each weekend enjoying their hobby.

The club had sufficient notice and decided to seek and employ an outside administration business to take over most of the administrative duties. Unfortunately they soon learnt that the cost was a minimum $7,500.00 annually which was out of the question. I had sold my Noelex early 2000 and at the AGM the Committee thanked me for all my work and rewarded me with a Certificate of Life Membership. This gesture was followed with an offer to continue as Administrator with an honorarium payment of $2,000.00 p.a. The offer was considered and in the light of at least 10 hours work each week worked out at less than $4.00 an hour was miniscule but not too bad if seen as a paying hobby, I agreed. Only problem would be that it could be seen as a conflict of interest to also be the President but time would tell.

So it transpired that I carried on as normal. However times were changing rapidly. Suddenly web sites became the rage. We had to have one and I acquired the URL for noelex.com and with some help our first web site was published via a server by the name of Ozemail.

A plea went out to members with computer skills and a Sydney based member came forward and volunteered to become our web administrator. He actually did a good job in re-designing the site and also set up a chat site at Yahoo.

All went well for a while, membership kept on growing, we had sufficient funds to purchase some decent office equipment such as a wonderful 80 Mb HDD computer and a colour printer. We purchased a second hand copier and suddenly the production  of the newsletter by itself was no longer such a chore.

Email was another totally new concept and it soon became evident that gathering email addresses from members was the go. I opened an account with one.net and got an email address but later moved to Bigpond. At a guess it probably took a couple of years but at the end we were nearing 160 members and had 95% of them in an email database. Email at the time was only dial-up, one could send only batches of limited numbers of email attachments per hour but it saved many hours of printing, drastically cut postage costs, paper, toner and inks.

Then came the bad news. Our Sydney based web site administrator sent a proposal along the lines that in his opinion the annual subscription rate was far too high, he was very experienced in his field where he also acted for a number of clubs with thousands of members and paying no more than $5.00 p.a. for membership. He contended that we should decrease our fee to no more than $10/$15, the club to go out and canvass sponsorships from business such as Australia Post, Reflex Paper, Hewlett Packard and the like and that he intended to have that proposal be put to our AGM in 2003.

We had been on that road before in the previous years when we were involved in a contest amongst New Zealand and Australian NX25 owners dubbed the Interdominion which was a bi-annual event. In all there were three of those, one at Portland, one at Auckland and the last at Sandringham. Australia won twice from memory but the organisation was a total headache. I wrote to 50 large companies seeking sponsorship to stage the event at Sandringham and got 50 knock backs. In the end we arranged for a raffle which raised nearly all the funds required. Seeking sponsorship was considered a waste of effort in view of past experience.

The committee duly considered his proposal and declined to take that course. After he was informed of the decision he sent an email to all members accusing Fred for milking a large proportion of their subscription money each year in the form of an honorarium and after circulating that message he promptly resigned his membership and returned all web site authoring to the Association.

A suggestion was made to seek a business specialising in that sort of work but at that time web authoring was not cheap and someone in the club would need to constantly still have to prepare and feed information. After much discussion and consultation a plan was thought up to include a 'yacht for sale page' where members wishing to sell their Noelex could buy a full page advertisement on the web site plus a similar page in the newsletter for a charge of $100.00. I would canvass some yacht chandlers, repairers and sail makers to become 'corporate members' at an annual charge of $100.00, arrange an insurance discount for members via a yacht insurance broker and their business names with some details to feature on our web site. In return for the extra work involved the honorarium to be raised from $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 p.a. Any funds so collected would easily offset the increase in honorarium. So it was that this plan was passed at the AGM, implemented and as shown in ensuing financial statements, the Association was no worse off overall after allowing for the increase in honorarium as we were sort of yacht broking and in that way placed on average 20 to 25 boats with new owners.

It all worked and the boat stopped rocking, at least for a number of years.

By 2008 another person who had purchased a Noelex25 and was deeply involved with far larger sailing interests than our Association began to question the honorarium payment. He also began to question why there were insufficient face-to-face committee meetings. Melbourne is a big city and committee persons could live anywhere within 50 or more km radius. With email facilities many things were handled that way, virtual meetings via email. He strongly objected to that happening over and over. To me it seemed a bit over the top to expect persons to attend a committee meeting each month via a 100 km round trip to someone's place when there was really not much important business to discuss that could easily be done via a phone conference or email. Whilst it was perhaps a new concept I was practising and not totally within the Rules at the time it is ironical that this format of business meetings is nowadays totally lawful. Maybe I had too much foresight of the immediate future of communication methods.

By 2009 there was a problem at the AGM to elect a secretary, hence the meeting appointed a Secretary/Treasurer for the time being. That person complaining so often as described above eventually wrote to the committee with his application to become Secretary. That application was voted on and passed, with him duly elected to fill the vacancy. He did not take on any secretarial duties for the remainder of the year 2009/2010 on the basis that the Association already paid too high an honorarium to someone who should do the work..

The following year saw a disgraceful exercise in which a small group calling themselves "the fun gang" conspired in secret to stage a coup d'etat of the Association which only came to light as a result of some misdirected emails and all those involved in that small group gaining control at the 2010/2011 AGM held on 5 July 2011. It was only then when one of those involved literally leaked information as to what had  been planned prior to that event and it was not surprising that this group of planners would become the new executive committee of the Association. The new vice-president actually went so far as to formulate an email sent to all members clearly stating that Fred, the now displaced President, had as part of the election format attempted to falsify records in an effort to make the take-over seem to be more palatable to members. An immediate letter was sent to the new President and his committee demanding a retraction or face legal action for defamation of character which was simply discarded with comments that it appeared to be a personal matter, sour grapes and so on and that the new committee was not prepared to take up the matter.

The four persons involved became the entire new executive committee with Fred being ousted in a typical Canberra style takeover via lies and kaniving.

The website was hijacked, any reference to Fred's name was extinguished from anything displayed in articles displayed on the site, the former web site administrator in Sydney was re-engaged to do all those deletions, that person created a new web site and added a copyright notice to everything, even though all copyrights belonged to Fred. The new hierarchy refused to acknowledge any ownership of those rights to Fred. That new web administrator even went as far as to substitute his ownership by deleting Fred's name with his own on some of the items and there were immediate demands to sign over control of a $32,000.00 plus bank balance.

Fred was forced to take legal action for infringement of copyright costing him several thousand dollars to which very little response was received. Rather than to waste many thousands more on his lawyer, Fred was able to prove his ownership of a number of articles appearing on Google and e-Books and those items were taken down. The Association flatly refused to pay the amount of honorarium for 2010/2011 and only after threat of legal action did they finally reimburse for legitimate incurred expenses after a number of months had passed without result and sadly for Fred, the legal action cost him personally a large sum.

The fact remains that Fred created and registered the names Noelex Yacht Squadron Inc., Noelex Yacht Association of Australia Inc., name of newsletter "Telltales" and the cover page, created and owns the entire database of Noelex Yachts in Australia, created every newsletter produced since 1 July 1996, wrote the 50 page booklet Handy Hints, created a number of slide shows and so on. Even the Association logo and letterheads were his creations. In fact almost everything in the history until May 2011 was a creation by him, he was never an employee of or ever asked by the Association to make creations and therefore he is the legitimate owner of most items if not all.

There was a counter claim in recent years when the word noelex was registered as being owned by Andrew Fedorowicz and demands via registered mail were served on Fred warning him to refrain from ever using that word in any shape or form or publications. Documentation is contained in the historical files from the original owners giving Fred permission way back in 1987 to use that word and the Noelex Class logos. Nevertheless a proper disclaimer clause is featured in the home page of this Family site.

So there you have it, my many years of involvement since 1986. Official records with Corporate Affairs, the Taxation Department and Consumer Affairs Victoria will show that I was the founder of Noelex Yacht Squadron Inc. and Noelex Yacht Association of Australia Inc.

The above story is extracted from the records but the subject matter is now just water that has flowed under the bridge and washed out to sea.

So, whatever happened to that once great Association? and......

lastly, what to do with all that documentation of records - i.e. newsletters since 1996, full annual financial statements, minutes of meetings, complete annual databases and a concise register detailing every Noelex yacht in Australia since construction, a cache of photographs and much more going back to 1981....... shred it, burn it and delete all?

Seems a shame to do so but then again perhaps NYAA Inc and NYS Inc already have ceased to exist because an item on the Yahoo chat site by Andrew Fedorowicz is marked by him as 'past President', John Burgess sold his boat and would have been required to resign his membership, their website shows only a handful of newsletters ever issued, the last one dated 2014, all committee names have been removed from the website which makes it appear that Gil Webster is now the central reference point which raises the question whatever happened to the large bank balance ?. The new website created by him initially featured a section that clearly named each person and position but suddenly the 'governance' section has become bereft of names which raises the question as to the legitimate existence of an Incorporated Association not publicly disclosing as to who runs it. A check on the Internet indicates that the name noelex.org is available for purchase which is certainly not so relating to the name noelex.com

I would caution anyone to take care before getting involved with that type of persons, their business or that Association for that matter, perhaps save your money and subscribe to Noelex family.

Fred Viergever, first owner of NX867 "Petty Cash".