Coastal Hero Tom Simonds talks Porthcawl, Powerboats and Skis

January 21, 2019

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Tom Simonds

Ever wondered what powerboating is all about? We spoke to Tom Simonds of the Porthcawl Powerboat and Ski Club to learn more about motorised watersports and how to enjoy them safely in Porthcawl. From safety first to qualifications around the coast, here's what we learned…

Tell us a bit about The Porthcawl Powerboat and Jet ski Club

The club offers a range of sea based watersports from jet-skiing and powerboating to kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing. It will have been around for 60 years next year!

Would you say the sport has grown in popularity since then?

In the 1970's waterskiing was far more popular and then later jet skiing got quite big. Unfortunately due to the cost and the credit crunch people cut back. People are choosing to spend their leisure time in different ways. We are hoping to change that.

What makes Porthcawl such a hotspot for watersports?

There's so much more coastline to explore than simply whizzing around in circles by the shoreline. There's a long history of watersports in Porthcawl and motorised sports have always been popular in Newton Bay. Newton is a lovely sheltered bay so it doesn't get the surf some of the others do - making it perfect for motor sports.

What does the club do around the coast?

Promoting safety is a big element and exploring the coast is another. The club members will arrange long rides out across the Bristol channel among themselves. We'll also travel up and down the South Wales coast along places like Barry and Cardiff, or to the Gower. We'll even travel further afield as a club to places like Torquay and Ilfracombe.

Jet skis often get a bad rep. How do you try to combat that?

Jet skis have had a poor reputation among the public. They assume a lot of it is just hooligans and polluting, but we are trying to change that perception locally. You do get people who can be unruly, so we encourage people to join the club and get more out of it - that way we can help manage people and reduce any problems.  

How is safety encouraged at the club?

Promoting safety for other water users is of paramount concern for the club. We cringe every time we hear reports of someone having to be rescued by the RNLI and just pray it's not one of our members! However, if it is, we can take comfort in knowing they should be fully equipped and know how to use their safety equipment.

Is there anyone who should avoid using power boats / jet skis ?

Everybody is welcome, from children to wheelchair users. We've got members up into their seventies. It's a sport that's accessible to anyone. The Royal Yachting Association offers a selection of training courses and competency certificates for powerboat and personal watercraft users. While it's not obligatory, we recommend our members take on these qualifications.

Lastly, what would be your top safety tips when using a power boat or jet ski in Bridgend?

  • Check your equipment before your enter the water
  • Make sure everyone has a buoyancy aid that fits
  • Check all equipment is well serviced and update if needed
  • Ensure you have a means of communicating with someone on shore, this could be a  VHF radio or mobile phone
  • Let someone know where your planning to go and when you'll be back
  • If you're enjoying your day and your plans change, always let somebody know

For more information visit http://www.pps-club.com/ Or search Porthcawl Powerboat and Ski Club on Facebook.

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