Yachting New South Wales says the consensus it has received from the sailing fraternity is that Sydney Harbour is not an appropriate place to stage the Sydney Superboat Grand Prix.
by Peter Campbell
'It is not only a dangerous sport to be held in such confined waters, (as evidenced by the tragic and unfortunate death) but is also a hazard to other users and is environmentally unfriendly,' says Steer, in a letter to NSW Maritime, which as been released to the media.
A copy of the letter has been sent to member clubs of Yachting NSW and released to the media by Lyndsay Brown, President of YNSW.
The Sydney Superboat Grand Prix was held as part of Sydney Harbour Week on March 8 and 9, with NSW Maritime placing exclusion zones on both days which forced sailing clubs to cancel racing. Commercial sail training organisations also were prevented from operating for most of both days.
In his letter, addressed to the recently retired CEO of NSW Maritime, Chris Oxenbold, Adrian Steer says that while Yachting NSW accepts that Sydney Harbour is for all users to share, the Board and Council of YNSW 'find it hard to understand the reasons why the authorities would choose to disenfranchise all the sailing clubs that use the harbour, by forcing them to abandon their racing schedule because of one group of users.'
The letter points out that clubs prepare their schedule a year in advance, and all have an Aquatic Licence. 'In cancelling their events for the two days at such short notice, NSW Maritime shows scant regard for the terms of the licence,' the letter adds.
Yachting NSW also raises the issue as to why it had not been included in a briefing of harbour users, including yacht and sailing clubs, held shortly before the Superboat Grand Prix. YNSW had supplied the event organisers with contact details of harbour clubs and had asked to be included so as to be fully cognisant of the status of this event.
'We only found out by accident that the briefing had gone ahead and we were subsequently criticised in the media for lack of consultation with our clubs,' it points out. 'It would be appreciated, that for future events that impact on so many people, that a more consultative plan be established by the organising authorities,' the letter continues.
Yachting NSW also says that, in talking with clubs, they have raised the question as to way the boats were not racing in the morning when the waters are calmer and with little wind. 'If this had occurred, it would have allowed the sailing clubs to stick to their normal schedules of sailing in the afternoon, when the conditions are much better suited for sailing,' the letter continues.
The letter from Yachting NSW to NSW Maritime concludes: 'Sydney Harbour Week is all about the harbour and encouraging families to participate on activities on the water, and closing the harbour for a single group of users, with due respect, does not convey that message.'
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6:25 PM Fri 11 Apr 2008 GMT
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