Ski dilemma for Emma

Four-time world water ski champion Emma Sheers wants to build a world-class water ski facility at Coolum Beach.

Ms Sheers announced her ambitious plan at last week’s networking breakfast meeting run by Coolum Business and Tourism (formerly known as Coolum Commerce).

“My vision is for a facility that attracts water skiers from all over the world here to the Sunshine Coast to learn to ski, train, holiday and compete,” she told the meeting.

“This facility will also provide the residents of the Sunshine Coast with a safe venue to ski and give aspiring local kids the ability to reach a level to compete for their country.”

The proposed Sunshine Coast Water Ski Academy would be built on the site of an old sand mine at the Coolum industrial estate, off Quanda Road, with the water course about 750 meters long and 120 metres wide.

Local residents would have the opportunity to join a club at the facility.

“Having a club membership will open the sport up to many more people,” Ms Sheers said.

“With members not having to own their own boats, the sport of water skiing will become a much more affordable option for families who want to spend their leisure time together.”

She said only top-of-the-range, tournament-accredited ski boats would be used at the proposed multi-million dollar facility.

“The boats are tested on very low noise levels, handling, small wash, low-emission engines and general build quality,” she said.

As well as her four world championships, Ms Sheers holds four world records and has won 89 professional titles.

She said the sport had been good to her, allowing her to represent her country and compete against the best in the world.

“I believe that it is my responsibility to promote my sport and to use my knowledge to develop Australia’s next world champions,” she said.

“The academy will host state, national and international competitions in all forms of towed water sports for able and disabled skiers in all age groups.”

Ms Sheers’ husband and business partner Rick Habermann said he was hopeful of public support because of the benefits the facility would bring to the region.

He said local residents would not only have a professionally-run, safe water sport facility at their back door, but visitors from all over the world would come to the area, injecting money into the local economy through accommodation, shopping, dining and entertainment.

“It’s really important that we educate people on the benefits of sporting tourism, which the Sunshine Coast is the perfect spot for,” he said.

The couple believes the academy has the potential to generate more than $600,000 in international sales and more than $560,000 in domestic sales over three years, as well as 6000 extra overnight stays for domestic and international visitors.

“Council has shown they are serious about helping hard-to-locate sports find a home on the Sunshine Coast and I look forward to moving this project ahead with council in coming months,” Ms Sheers said.

Sunshine Coast councillor Vivien Griffin, who met with Ms Sheers at the proposed site, said she had two major concerns about the plan.

“The first is that I really would want to make sure there is no noise impact on residents in adjacent residential areas,” she said.

“The other is a more fundamental issue. I think Emma’s proposal has overtaken what should be a proper master planning process for this community resource.”

Ms Griffin said the council should first “have some discussion with the community” about what is the best use for the site.

“That could be passive recreation that’s based on a community model or it could be an alternative such as Emma’s, which adds another dimension to the Coast and has the opportunity to create much-needed employment as well,” she said.

Ms Griffin will attend a public meeting hosted by the Yandina Creek Progress Association and concerning the council’s Sunshine Coast Noisy and Hard-to-Locate Sports Study next Tuesday.

The meeting starts at 6pm at the Coolum Christian College on the corner of Arcoona and Yandina-Coolum Roads.

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