Boats hit the Richmond to celebrate regatta season

FOR boats big and small it was exciting sailing on the Ballina River yesterday for the opening of the regatta season.

Ballina Alive joined forces with the Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club to encourage members of the public to get their feet wet in what he described as 'highly addictive fun'.

Ballina Alive president Mike Dean said the event aimed to encourage locals to give sailing a go and enjoy the Richmond River.

“We want to celebrate what Ballina's river has to offer, this is one of the best locations to sail in the region and many people are not aware of this,” Mr Dean said.

“Sailing is such a social and addictive activity and you don't have to be an expert to join the club.”

Mr Dean said sailing, rowing and model boat racing were becoming popular in the region but needed more local exposure.

Radio Yacht Club president John McGuiness was also there to promote remote-controlled small boats which were becoming highly competitive.

“It is such a fun activity for people of all ages, some of our members build their own model boats and others buy them to race them competitively,” Mr McGuiness said.

The day which featured races for the motorised sailing and motor boats, which gave locals the chance to learn a few tricks of the 'trade'.

“It isn't an expensive hobby,” Mr McGuiness said.

“Members do not need to own a boat and there is only a small start-up fee.”

A model racing yacht valued at $1000 was also given away in a competition and trophies were presented to the club's race winners.

Jon Wilson travelled from Redcliff to the event with his 11-year-old son Scott for their Fathers Day outing.

Mr Wilson has made his living making model boats and sells them while travelling the world to sail the boats competitively.

“It amazes me how diverse the range of people are that buy my boats - from fathers and sons to rocket engineers and concreters,” Mr Wilson said.

He has been sailing since he was eight and started making model boats five years ago.

“It is the best job I could ever have and I'll be doing it until the day I die,” he said.

The Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club is located next to the waterslide on River Street, Ballina.

Anyone interested in rowing is welcome to sign up for the upcoming rowing season. For more information phone 0448 878 317.

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