Boambee passses first test for finals

BOAMBEE Beach has passed its first hurdle on the way to being anointed as the official beach for the 2010-2012 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, but there are plenty more ahead.

Surf Life Saving Australia's general manager in charge of competition, Grant Baldock and several other SLSA officials have inspected beach and talked to representatives of Coffs Harbour City Council and the NSW Government.

Mr Baldock said while the actual beach and water at Boambee met SLSA specification, this was not taking into consideration the back of the beach, from the sand landwards.

"There is definitely opportunity there, but it is a greenfields site there is nothing there at the moment and every issue would have to be addressed," Mr Baldock said.

Mr Baldock said to his knowledge no Australian surf life saving championship in the past 20 years had been held on a site developed from scratch for the event.

He said the next move was up to Coffs Harbour City Council, which had been invited to make a presentation on its plans for the beach to the next SLSA Board meeting in August, but he avoided identifying that meeting as a deadline.

Coffs Harbour City Council general manager Stephen Sawtell said the recent inspection meeting had been very positive but had highlighted a broad range of environmental and operational matters that council needed to address before August.

He said the meeting also gave council an indication of the operational matters they needed to consider to have Boambee officially sanctioned.

"SLSA told us that Boambee had the potential to be an exceptional location should the various environmental and logistical challenges be satisfactorily addressed," Mr Sawtell said.

The original agreement between council and SLSA, signed in 2004, has Park Beach as the site for the three-year running of this major national event.

Concerns about the cumulative effects of storms and long-term sand loss on Park Beach led council to propose the northern end of Boambee Beach as the site for the Championships.

The new site would require major investment in infrastructure to support what is the largest annual participant-based sporting event in Australia.

Coffs Harbour City Council's share of the cost involved, if supported by both the State and Federal governments, has been estimated at $6 million.

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