Houseboat capsize victims were brought to shore by police after being rescued yesterday. Eleven people were thrown into the water while watching the superboat races.
Houseboat capsize victims were brought to shore by police after being rescued yesterday. Eleven people were thrown into the water while watching the superboat races. Valerie Horton

Spectators rescued from the sea

SUPERBOATS visited Hervey Bay for its calm waters, ideal for speed and safety.

But that decision almost detonated in the faces of organisers after strong winds and rough seas caused a spectator vessel to capsize.

The incident happened just outside the racing arena, when an eight-metre-long houseboat overturned, throwing its 11 occupants into the ocean. None were seriously injured.

Owner and skipper of the boat Kevin Scougall said a mixture of bad luck, error in judgement, and freak occurrence were to blame.

"We had just lifted the anchor up and were turning around to go home and for some reason a freak wave hit us side on and rolled us over," Mr Scougall said.

"Retrospect is a wonderful thing, but we probably shouldn't have been out there ... yeah I don't know."

Thankfully for its occupants, rescuers were positioned only a short distance away monitoring Superboat action.

Mr Scougall praised the ability of both the Hervey Bay Water Police and Volunteer Marine Rescue, saying they arrived at the scene and pulled everyone from the water in about five minutes.

As for the aluminium houseboat, Hervey Bay VMR commodore Tom Hudson said it spent the night overturned in the ocean.

"We sent our second rescue vessel up there to have a look to see if they could assist and hopefully try and tow that upturned vessel back.

"But because it's so big on the top it has buried itself in the sand, and we couldn't even move it. So we had to bring our second vessel back.

He said the vessel would now need to be salvaged by its owner when weather permitted in the coming days.

It is understood the boat's insurance policy recently lapsed. Hervey Bay Police Sergeant Peter Bennet said investigations were continuing to find a cause.



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