At least 20 wooden boats were expected at the Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club at Ballina on Sunday.
At least 20 wooden boats were expected at the Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club at Ballina on Sunday. Ross Kendall

Wooden Boat Regatta attracts hidden local talent

THE beauty and craftsmanship of vintage vessels was on show at yesterday's Wooden Boat regatta at Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club in Ballina.

The annual event, in its third year, gives wooden- boat owners a chance to gather and sail their often cherished vessels, club commodore Jenni Heuchmer said.

There were plenty of beautiful wooden boats hidden in the local region and a dedicated regatta gave people the chance to see them all in one place, Commodore Heuchmer said.

She said the event included judging, lunch and sailing.

Maurice Reynaud was busy rigging his classic VJ built more than 50 years ago.

"I got it as a wreck and restored it as part of a school project," Mr Reynaud said.

To make it seaworthy it needed holes repaired, revarnishing and other work, he said.

"There was a lot of fiddling to get it together. But I get a good feeling knowing we saved it from the tip," he said.

Robin Crosby was ready to sail a hand-crafted Northbridge Senior that was "beautifully balanced and responded like a lovely musical instrument".

Made in Grafton in the early 1970s by Malcolm Eggins, Tornado was "still a very fast boat", Mr Crosby said.

It was made from local hardwood timbers including red cedar and silver ash.

"Five years after this was made everything was built out of fibre glass," Mr Crosby said.

"It is all handmade, people just wouldn't do it now days," he said.

But Goonengary trio Paul Webb, Barry Kean and Val Hodgson did just that when they built Storm Bird, styled on a traditional working boat.

The boat was open-hulled and could easily take two people, Mr Kean said.

It was built using the traditional "clinker" form of construction where the planks of the hull overlap and are held together with copper nails.

The boat was made from hoop pine, Tasmanian blackwood, and silver ash, as well as cedar that was grown in Goonengary.

Mr Kean was a boat builder by trade and wanted to keep alive the traditional methods of building.

It certainly was not economical considering the amount of time and attention to detail required to get a quality finished product, he said.

"We have given up counting the cost," he said.

Ms Hodgson said the regatta was the second time Storm Bird had sailed.



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