Club boss Max Cardona is optimistic, but some hard work and planning remains

The fog is clearing over the Durban beachfront where three Durban watersport clubs are on track to move into new facilities within the next year.

So says Point Water Sports Club boss Max Cardona who reports a far more positive picture compared with this time last year when the air was thick with curses and legal action.  Certainly there is still plenty of muttering, but Cardona says the overall sentiment is much improved. “We had a meeting with the developer a few weeks ago and we should be into the permanent site in July or August next year,” Cardona told SABBEX. “It is progressing very fast. The new facility will basically be under the promenade – we will step out of the front door onto the sand.

The clubs’ relocation is to make way for a proposed massive new Point precinct development led by the Durban Point Development Company. Whereas previously the clubs all enjoyed their own facility, the proposed extension of the promenade necessitated a settlement agreement last year in terms of which the clubs would move. Under the new arrangement the Durban ski boat club and the Durban Underwater Club will share one roof, with Point Yacht Club next door.

Critics of the plan say the clubs have basically been strong-armed into accepting unfavourable terms. While the clubs are urgently working on layouts and designs to accommodate all water sports disciplines in future, there is no guarantee that the landowners will renew the clubs’ leases in perpetuity. There are also concerns about beach access and whether club members will be able to launch their vessels as freely as before.  Said one disgruntled stakeholder: “The launch site they (the developers) have drawn up is unusable — in the corner against the wall where there is high erosion. They keep on pumping sand there. Lots of backwash, rocks and rubble.”

Other concerns relate to potentially exorbitant rent – it is already steep – and the viability of the development project itself as South Africa slides into another recession. While the site itself has potential, the main tourist nexus has migrated north of the city.

But Cardona insists the proverbial glass is half full rather than half empty, and says the clubs would add value to any future development. He also stressed the need for a constructive working relationship between club leaders and the main project stakeholders.

“We will be accommodated at the promenade at the end of the day,” Cardona said.

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