by HAMISH GEALE
A project seeking to establish a dragon boat club in St Helens is steadily gathering support from the Break O’Day community.
Since its inception earlier this year, the Georges Bay Dragon Boat Club has formed a board, started fundraising and attracted enough members to fill more than two crews.
Now, with a handful of community groups on board, the club will embark on a mission to build two nine-metre vessels from scratch.
Club public officer Dina McGuinness said while initial plans had only involved the acquisition of one boat, strong community interest had forced the club to pursue a second.
“We had two choices, we could have purchased a boat or we could build one,” Mrs McGuinness said.
“We got hold of Peter Ashton from Deloraine who’s just started up the Deloraine club and he’s got the plans for a nine metre ten-seater boat.”
“He started with making their boat because he thought he could form a club around it, and it was so successful we thought we’d follow his line.”
The club has not been short of willing participants in its quest to build the boats, with Ansons Bay shipwright Peter Jamieson agreeing to take charge of construction and the Break O’Day Trade Training Centre offering to house the project.
Mrs McGuinness said Break O’Day Council and St Helens Rotary Club had also been supportive of the project.
“Once we get our first lot of money together it’ll take about 450 hours to get a boat together; we’re planning to (work) most Saturdays and maybe a few nights through the week.”
“We’ve got the school on board, they’ve asked if a couple of year 12 students can help out, one of the teachers is going to be involved and then there’s the (boat) club itself, we all want to get in and have a go ourselves.”
Mrs McGuinness said while the club had a way to go with fundraising, she was hopeful of attracting sponsors to help with finances.
“If anybody wants to sponsor the club we need paddles, we need life jackets.”
“If we can get a major sponsor and they’d like to offer a grant towards the boat that’d be absolutely wonderful.”
A seven foot wooden boat built and donated by Lawrie Barton-Johnson will be raffled off on the November long weekend, with all funds raised going towards the cause.