Committee members Vivian Lockhart, Mark Knowles and Tommy Thompson can be seen after they inspected the PM Thunderbird (background).
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE majority of a five-member inspection committee by the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources have deemed the newly reconstructed PM Thunderbird seaworthy and should be eligible to sail in the various regattas.
Three members of the committee, inclusive of Vivian Lockhart, Mark Knowles and Tommy Thompson were commissioned along with Sheldon Gibson and Clyde Rolle who were asked to examine the A class boat owned by the Rev Dr Philip McPhee to establish the legitimacy to participate in the regattas sponsored by the Ministry.
On Saturday, Lockhart, Knowles and Thompson met and re-examined the boat. However, Gibson and Rolle were not present.
The three in attendance made the recommendation that they don't see why the boat should not be allowed to sail because it meets the requirements of the overall length, depth of keel, continuous flow of keel, no movable mast and was locally built.
"It's ready to go," Lockhart stated emphatically.
"Whatever the problem was, we are satisfied that Rev McPhee has already fixed it. He corrected the problem with the keel and she's ready to go."
Thompson, a long-time boat builder, said when compared to the other A class boats, the PM Thunderbird has conformed to the standards and he "doesn't see anything different" from the other boats.
Lockhart, who has had a long history with the original Courageous and the Unca Boss, said when Dr McPhee brought the boat, which was the old Tanqueray boat that was banned more than 30 years ago, he was one of the many persons who was contacted on how to transform the boat.
"I advised Rev McPhee what should be done and after he got it done, he invited me and the others to come back and inspect the work," Lockhart stated.
"We did that and we felt then as we do now that the boat is eligible to sail in our regattas.
"For some unknown reason, there are two men in this country, as long as the Tida Wave and the Lady M is not on top, they will dispute every boat in this country and it needs to stop and I will continue to say that unless the government changes it or this sport will continue to die."
Knowles, a prominent boat builder from Long Island, said he has seen a number of boats that were at fault with some of the same rules that the PM Thunderbird has been accused of violating and they were allowed to sail.
He said he's confident that Rev. McPhee has made all of the necessary adjustments to the boat and should be allowed to sail.
Keith Carroll, who sails with the Rupert's Legend, said he was in the meeting when the decision was made for the committee to inspect the boat. He said he came out because he was curious of what decision they would make.
"What they are trying to do to Rev McPhee is bad," he said. "The man put in a lot of money to remodel the boat and this is only for fun. The money they pay you isn't enough for you to take care of your whole crew. This is for fun.
"To try to keep him out of competing in this boat is unfair. The government really need to do something about this because he did everything that he was asked to do to change the boat."
Carroll said he doesn't see anything different from the other boats. He said he believe it is something more personal against Rev. McPhee than it is about principal.
Rev. McPhee is now awaiting on the final verdict from the Ministry of Agriculture on whether or not the boat will be given the green light to sail. He's still hoping that it will be done in time to compete in the Sir Durward Knowles 100 Regatta this weekend in Montagu Bay.
The regatta, which will feature a large fleet of work-class and Olympic-style boats, will compete in a series of races from Thursday to Sunday in a free-for-all competition as they help to celebrate the upcoming 100th birthday of legendary sailor and philanthropist Sir Durward Knowles, who will become the oldest living Olympic gold medal centenarian on November 2.