by Bob Wonders
The hard men of offshore powerboat racing, a sport where no quarter is given or sought, showed their softer side earlier this week when they turned out in force to farewell one of their own.
The way it used to be - 'Searly's Skater 'ACME Fibreglass' fighting it out with 'Maritimo.' - Steve Searle funeral
Steve Searle, former Class 1 Offshore Superboat Champion, prominent Gold Coast businessman, loving father, son, brother and uncle was sent off in style after succumbing to the ravages of cancer on December 8.
‘Searly’, as he was known far and wide, fought a courageous, 12-month battle against the disease.
Adam Gilbert, President of the Offshore Superboat Championships (OSC), described his late colleague as 'a well-respected man in both the powerboat racing and business community.'
'Searly spent years developing our sport, predominantly with the Australian Offshore Powerboat Club and more recently as part of the OSC,' he said.
'He will be sorely missed as a competitor, friend and supporter in the years ahead.'
The attendance at Searle’s farewell read like a 'who’s who' of powerboat racing and the marine industry.
In addition to family members, the mourners included the Barry-Cotter family, Martin Lewis, Peter Jenkins, Keith Hanson, Wesley Moxey. Bruce ‘Sharkey’ Harris, Ross Willaton, Craig Jones, Tony Smith, Paul Gibbs, Tom Wyld, Garry, Greg and John Jnr Haines, Tony Low, Simon Isherwood, Phil Frazer, Noel Leigh-Smith and numerous fellow-competitors.
Steve Searle was proprietor and CEO of Acme Fibreglass and Swagman Motor Homes.
Both businesses closed down during Searle’s on-going battle with the disease.
Acme Fibreglass was a major supplier of materials top the marine industry, with many of the state’s leading boat manufacturers among its customers, including Maritimo Mustang and Riviera.
The company was also a supplier to many major swimming pool manufacturers and installers.
It was typical of the man that many customers were or became close friends away from the rigours of business.
Maritime general manager Martin Lewis, another who called Steve Searle 'a mate', recalled that he had complained about a bad back.
'He went for a MRI scan and the cancer was revealed,' Martin explained.
'By then it had spread dangerously and sadly we all knew it was only a matter of time before it claimed his life.'
Steve Searle won the Class 1 OSC championships in 2007 at the wheel of his 'pride and joy', the big, bright red Skater carrying the name ‘ACME Fibreglass.’
He stepped out of the cockpit in 2008 handing the campaign over to his brother Andrew and son Christopher.
‘Searly’ was particularly close to Maritimo CEO Bill Barry-Cotter and the pair were often in each other’s company, as mates and as business associates
The late Steve Searle (right) with close friend, offshore racing rival and business associate Bill Barry-Cotter. - Steve Searle funeral
It was Bill Barry-Cotter and wife Lesley who played hosts for the wake to remember the good times enjoyed in the company of Searley.
'Rest in peace, Steve Searle, you will long be remembered,' Adam Gilbert added.
Stephen Charles George Searle was just 59-years-old.