Young get to steering own course

Illawarra-founded national business Boab Boat Hire is stepping up a junior boating program that is helping children as young as 12 get a special boating licence.

Boab Boats franchisee and Wollongong Powerboat Training Centre principal John Lane has trained people of all ages to get their boat licence for years, but during the last school holidays he did a pilot with primary school students.

When Minnamurra Public School told its students about the training, 14 year 5 and 6 students completed the day-long program.

Mr Lane and Boab Boat Hire co-founder Anthony Gelfius used the program as a pilot and are keen to offer more opportunities.

"From 12 to 16 they can get the young adult's licence. That entitles them to drive a boat up to 20 knots with an adult on board who holds a licence. They get a certificate for completing the course and then they take those to the RMS, where they pay their money and they get their boat licence," Mr Lane said.

"When they turn 16 it automatically converts to an adult licence. The course is done over one day.

"The theory part is done online ... and then it is a full day on the water doing boat handling and safety."

Mr Gelfius said Boab saw the training as a community education initiative.

"John had started teaching a few more ladies and children so we thought we really should aim at the younger generation."

Mr Gelfius said that he told the Minnamurra school about it because his son, Travis, in year 6, was very interested in it.

"Travis had come to the age where he wanted to get his licence so I spoke to the principal, Warren Grosse, about running it outside the school as a holiday program," he said.

The pilot was so successful Boab may look at offering some more advanced clinics.

Mr Grosse was happy to tell his students about it because so many of them lived near water.

A YouTube link from the pilot course can be viewed at http://youtu.be/8uoFaFyMmOA and further information on 1300 002 622.

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