Sydney When Captain Arthur Phillip, the commander of the first fleet of convicts to settle Australia, first set eyes on Sydney harbour in January 1788, he wrote in his journal: 'We had the satisfaction of finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand ships of the line may ride in the most perfect security.' Two centuries on, Phillip's imagined 1,000 battle ships would find it impossible to squeeze into Sydney's crowded waterways. Congestion on the roads is always a hot topic here, but the bays and inlets of the harbour are also choked with traffic. The latest battle over the city's most famous natural feature pitches motorised boat owners against the increasing number of dragon-boat clubs. Dragon-boat racing claims to be the fastest growing water sport in Australia, with about 5,000 serious paddlers - admittedly still tiny by Asian standards. For seven years the city's clubs have been based at Rozelle Bay, in the shadow of the Anzac Bridge. But they fear they will be forced out of the area by plans to build a new marina and boat storage complex. The development will provide berths for nearly 700 boats. Dragon-boat paddlers fear the risk of collisions will increase dramatically. 'Some of our teams train at night,' said Jon Taylor, the Sydney-based president of the Australian Dragon Boat Federation. 'There's a huge potential for disaster. It's a mismatch of water uses - we are a passive water sport, power boats are not.' More than 20 dragon boats use Rozelle with a dozen or more out on the water at any one time. For careless power-boat skippers, the elongated craft present a worryingly large target - they are 13 metres long and each carries 22 paddlers. National championships will be held in the bay in April and international championships in September. 'It won't be a good look, having overseas teams here with all these power boats buzzing around,' Mr Taylor said. But the backers of the marina say it is badly needed because of the huge number of power-boat owners in Sydney. Most have to keep their craft in their driveways or on the street and fight to launch them each weekend from crowded slipways. The proposed development will allow many of those boats to be tidily stored away. 'We want Joe Average to be able to get out onto the water,' said Michael Chapman, president of the Boat Owners' Association of New South Wales. A 4-knot limit and channels marked by buoys would keep powered vessels away from dragon boats, he said. The decision whether to allow the marina to go ahead rests with state Planning Minister Frank Sartor. Well aware of the passion on both sides, he is reportedly putting off a decision until after the state election in March. Sydney has changed beyond recognition in 200 years, but its harbour is as fiercely coveted as it was in Captain Phillip's day.