Cyclone Hale – Coromandel boating club could drop its building due to erosion. Video / Hayden Woodward
The Coromandel boating club behind New Zealand’s first bid to contest the America’s Cup is facing the possibility of losing its building tonight after a storm surge washed away a part of its waterfront boundary.
Mercury Bay Boating Club Commodore Jonathan Kline said the situation to save the building is dire, with the Whitianga coastal property now severely compromised by stormy seas over the past fortnight.
But after today’s earlier high tide that further washed away the coastline just metres from the clubhouse Kline said it was now a waiting game to see if the particular building could withstand any more erosion from tonight’s high tide in four hours’ time.
“The storm surge, typically the wave action, during this high tide today really caused significant further damage to an already dire situation.
“The edge of our club deck is now, probably at the next large tide, going to be undermined tonight.
“The situation is serious, the acceleration of often the erosion is fierce, your storm is strong and our little boating club is in a dire situation. ”
Kline said the exact volunteer committee had been working across the day with both the Waikato Regional and Thames Coromandel District Councils to initiate an emergency action that would allow concrete blocks or rocks to be used to minimise the impact at tonight’s high tide.
“Unfortunately even though we procured the blocks at our own expense and at great effort the councils have come back and said our emergency doesn’t fit within the legal framework of what constitutes an emergency. ”
Kline said the committee was left with the very difficult position of either abiding by the law or even making the decision to deploy the defences without council approval or endorsement and at their own risk.
“In the end we weighed up the unknowns – the risks that may or may not be there because we are not coastal engineers – about deploying these blocks and we’ve decided not really to do it.
“So the blocks are sitting next to the club but not in front of the golf club.
“We’re expecting a strong high tide tonight at 10pm and so time will tell whether the deck is undermined. ”
He stated the committee was right now examining how quickly the building could be lifted plus moved back from the freshly-eroded site.
“This has always been our own plan but the events of the last two weeks have rapidly accelerated the particular process of what’s going on in front of us. ”
He said the committee no longer had the time to apply for building consents in addition to work on funding applications that normally took up to two years.
“We now have to consider how we might lift the building in typically the next week or two and move it back, in order to then continue using the consent process. ”
They had already started contacting building movers to see how quickly they could lift the building to be able to save it.
In the meantime Kline, the vice-commodore and committee members planned to be at the site tonight to see how it fared.
Kline said the club rose to fame after Sir Michael Fay put forward a challenge for the America’s Cup in the 80s.
He said members joined the club from all over the world as a result of the David and even Goliath scenario that has been unfolding within the sporting clash.
“We didn’t have a clubhouse then but the history associated with this club is the strong one and it’s a club that actually set the tone for New Zealand sailors in the future to recognise that they too with their expertise can compete very successfully on the international stage.
“I think it is an important piece regarding New Zealand sailing history. ”