Yacht club's reclamation serves public need

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 1:28am

I refer to Winston Chu Ka-sun's letter ("Concern over yacht club's plan for harbour reclamation", December 3).

The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) is a staunch supporter of the Society for the Protection of the Harbour [of which Mr Chu is an adviser] and its work, as well as other bodies relating to the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance.

We have considered the principles outlined in Mr Chu's paper to the Harbourfront Commission in September 2011 on proportionality and reclamation. It recognises that the prime function of a harbour is to provide shelter for boats and also that reclamation for things such as a breakwater "are necessary for the use and enjoyment of the harbour as a harbour".

The reclamation in question is for a small breakwater which could be as little as 250 square metres in area. The sole function of this breakwater is to provide protection from wave action for the former Wan Chai cargo working area so that small craft can berth safely.

Without these minimal marine works, we believe it would not be possible for the basin to be developed into the "vibrant marine facility" as has already been planned for in a 2007 Civil Engineering and Development Department report on the Wan Chai waterfront.

Our proposal, which can be viewed at the Harbourfront Commission's website www.hfc.org.hk focuses on the provision of public facilities such as a sail training centre, water taxis, a permanent home for the Hong Kong Maritime Museum together with water displays, a venue for international boat shows, temporary berthing facilities and al fresco dining.

Additionally, the land and water space could be used as a venue for a temporary "race village", with the potential to host major events such as America's Cup World Series, Extreme 40 racing or a Volvo Ocean Race stopover.

Such a facility may not only satisfy a clear public need but would serve to enhance the vibrancy of Victoria Harbour.

To safely achieve this goal, minimal reclamation in the form of a permanent breakwater is required.

The harbour protection ordinance requires that public engagement be undertaken, and this has commenced by presenting the proposal to the commission, and it will continue with other bodies.

The discussion, planning and programming for these facilities should start now if they are to be provided at the end of the current phase of construction at the Wan Chai waterfront. We welcome Mr Chu's views and those of other members of the public.

Joachim Isler, commodore, RHKYC