Daily News - 7 February 2017

Clubs must honour the promises they made

Johnny Vassilaros (Save Vetch’s Association)

 

Having attended a presentation by the Point Yacht Club (PYC) on Thursday evening regarding the recent dispute that is brewing between the water sport clubs on Vetch’s Beach, has left me sad, dismayed and angry.

Sad to see these clubs squabbling over who is going to run the show after the amalgamation, dismayed at the level of ignorance that still exists amongst so many club members, and angry that the Durban Undersea (DUC) and Durban Ski Boat clubs (DSBC) are still trying to exclude the Durban Paddle Ski Club from being an equal party within the “combined” Point Watersports Club.

The Save Vetch’s Association was formed years ago for one purpose only – to save Vetch’s Beach and that is exactly what it did. It was funded most generously by the Durban Paddle Ski Club, while the other three clubs, not only contributed nothing, but continually criticized their stance and tried desperately to convince them to drop their legal challenge to the construction of a small craft harbour, which would have seen the entire Vetch’s Beach buried in concrete. While their members were sun tanning on the beach and eating and drinking in their pubs and restaurants, the members of the Durban Paddle Ski Club were fighting for their lives and spending millions to save the very beach that these other clubs are still able to enjoy. Their struggle resulted in an agreement with the developers, which eventually saw the scrapping of the small craft harbour leaving the beach and reef intact. This is an undisputed fact.

The reason the Paddle Ski Club is not being treated equally today is not hard to find. It has obviously put egg on the faces of its richer and more powerful neighbours, by saving the beach while the others sided with the developers and did nothing. Apart for a few individuals, no member of these clubs has had the decency to thank the Save Vetch’s Association or the paddle ski club for their efforts and should all hang their heads in shame. Fortunately, the new Commodore of the Point Yacht Club, Craig Millar, has seen the light and PYC is now supporting the paddle ski club in this regard.

Agreements were signed by all the clubs with the developers in 2008 and 2012, clearly setting out the structure of the new proposed amalgamated body, where all four clubs would retain their identities, have separate constitutions but exist under the “umbrella body” of Point Watersports. But now DUC and DSBC have deviated hugely from those terms they signed, without the knowledge and mandate from their members. They are trying to bulldoze through a business-type structure with one huge club and elected themselves as directors who are to be remunerated and control everybody. This is of course obscene and unacceptable to PYC and the paddle ski club, who have no desire of controlling anybody other than their own clubs. The result of this bickering is going to be further litigation, which may threaten this whole development once more.

At the end of the day whatever model the DUC and DSBC members support will be irrelevant as this will only be decided by a court of law. The developers have the authority to intervene and insist that the clubs keep their word and honour the signed agreements, thus diffusing the situation, but so far they have chosen not to become involved. In my opinion, that is going to be a costly mistake.

It is indeed sad to see these clubs bickering over such issues, instead of appreciating the beach that we saved for them and get on with one another as they have done for decades. I urge the members of DUC and DSBC to ask their chairmen to put the interest of their sports over and above their own dented egos and honour their agreements so this controversial and drawn-out development can proceed without any further unnecessary delays.