A Minnie Water-Wooli SLSC crew competes in the club?s boat before it was destroyed in a freak collision.
A Minnie Water-Wooli SLSC crew competes in the club?s boat before it was destroyed in a freak collision.

A Minnie catastrophe ? $20,000 needed by Thursday



MEMBERS of the Minnie Water-Wooli Surf Life Saving Club are in a race to find sponsorship after the club's only competition-level boat was irreparably damaged during the NSW country championships at Woolgoolga on Saturday.

"We are all devastated; one guy in the country champion crew had to leave a barbecue we were having as he was so upset," Minnie Water-Wooli SLSC club surfboat captain Tony Benfield said.

"Unlike other clubs who have new boats every three years, Minnie Water is a lower socio-economic area and there is not a lot we can rely on."

The club boasts several competitive crews which compete in first class competition and the search is on for the funds needed to replace the damaged vessel.

"A new surf boat is $20,000-plus and the Minnie Water-Wooli club just does not have those funds available," Mr Benfield said.

And the appeal has been made even more desperate with the club due to field crews in major competition later this week.

The A-grade crew was competing in the boat when the freak collision happened.

Another boat slewed to the left and collided with it, damaging the bow.

"On inspection it was revealed that the boat had sustained a split in the hull that ran down one side of the hull, through the keel and halfway up the other side. It has also sustained collateral damage to the interior structure as well as the sides of the boat," Mr Benfield said.

"The club's four crews relied on the boat for competition and we're now in a desperate search to find a replacement.

"The club has a second training boat which is 10 years old and is not as competitive as today's modern boats.

"I am talking to potential sponsors in a desperate race to raise funds to purchase a new or near-new surfboat."

"Our club's A-grade and Under21 crews have been invited to compete at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast this Thursday at a major carnival and were also scheduled to compete in a round of the Queensland VB Cup series on the weekend. The boys are running third and this incident has put our VB Cup series plans in turmoil.

"Currumbin surf club have a boat that they will loan us provided we give a commitment to purchase the boat. They will give us a time to pay the bulk of the purchase price but will still require a substantial upfront payment."

Masters crew member Paul Vaessen said the incident was a major setback for the 250-member club.

"We are used to going out to train every Tuesday and Thursday, my son is in the Under21s, while I am in the masters crew," he said. "I am passionate about this club, we are the North Coast Boat Champions and it is such a loss, even for us old fellas who've been involved for a long time."

Anyone interested in helping should call 0408404788.



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