Powerboat club forced to quit
AFTER more than five decades, the Grafton Powerboat Club has pulled the throttle for the last time, coming to a bittersweet end.
Following years of inactivity due to rising costs and insurance problems, the club’s last two members recently decided to disburse their remaining funds to a worthwhile cause.
Life members Fred Payne and Graham Forman said they wanted to ‘help as many people as possible’, and after a little searching decided to donate their last $1090 to two community care projects.
“We found it was time to say ‘let’s call it a day’ and put the money to some good local causes,” Mr Forman said.
The first was a vaccine fridge for the maternity section at Grafton Base Hospital; the second a syringe driver for the palliative unit at Ulmarra.
Formed in the late 1950s, the club hosted two Australian Outboard championships in its history, as well as countless Jacaranda Festival regattas – which Mr Forman fondly remembered as the club’s best times. “The Jacaranda regattas were absolutely fantastic,” he said. “We would hold a two-day carnival, and attract 70, 80 or 90 boats.” He said the regattas came to be well-known across New South Wales and interstate.
Mr Payne was a member from the club’s inception, and well-known in the Clarence for racing his boat Jazz at local meets.
Mr Forman joined him in 1962, having raced all types of boats in many areas. He was also an Australian title-holder before he moved to Grafton.
Together, the two friends initiated the Bridge to Bridge ski race, from Grafton Bridge to Harwood Bridge, after council asked them for an idea to create ‘more activity on the water’. They coordinated the first race together in 1972, which attracted 17 boats, before handing over to the ski club. Now, up to 200 boats participate in the annual race. “From humble beginnings, we got that going,” Mr Forman said.
He said another highlight of being a part of the club was the friendships formed with ‘so many’ drivers.
“It was all a great time,” he said. “Those days, people could afford boats... It was a lot of fun.”