Monday, July 11, 2011

A most succesful fund raising event took place this weekend at the Durban Paddle Si Club, to raise funds for the Save Vetch's Association. The SVA is a public body that has legally challenged the authorization of the small craft harbour at Vetch's Beach.
Over 100 padlllers entered the event, which was originally set for them to paddle from Salt Rock to Durban over 2 days. The high swell, however forced most of the paddlers to launch from the sheltered waters of Vetch's Beach, whilst the more experienced and competant anglers launched their skis from Umhloti Beach. Despite the heavy seas, many good catches were made.
The prize giving and weigh in took place at the Durban Paddle Ski Club on Sunday afternoon with hundreds of people flocking down to support this event. It was encouraging to have had so many members od the Durban Ski Boat Club, Durban Undersea Club and Point Yacht Club supporting and assisting the event, even though their chairmen have signed an agreement, that will ultimately destroy the beach at Vetch's. A yacht even anchored off Vetch's Beach, displaying a Save Vetch's Beach banner.

The event highlighted the value of this beach as, whilst most of the Kwazulu Natal coastline, was being battered by the heavy surf, Vetch's Beach resembled a millpond, allowing even the most inexperienced paddlers to launch their skis. This is the beach where most people learn to snorkel, launch ski boats, paddle skis, sail yachts and surf and the destruction of this beach will put an end to all these activities for most people.

Many great prizes (over R70 000 donated by various sponsors) were handed out to anglers and lucky draw winners with the moment of the day being when 75 year old Jimmy Rudd won the Pinacle fishing ski with a R20 ticket. Jimmy was elated as he had never won a thing in his life.

Business also supported the event by donating thousands of rands worth of goods, foods and drinks which were either sold or raffled off to the public.

The Save Vetch's Association and the Durban Paddle Ski Club would like to thank all sponsors and everyone who came down to the beach and supported our cause of preserving Vetch's Beach.

Johnny Vassilaros (SVA and Durban Paddle Ski Club)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Despite numerous objections from the citizens of Durban over a six year period, in August 2009 the KZN Department of Environmental Affairs authorized The Durban Point Development Company (DPDC) to construct a small craft harbour (SCH) in the Vetch’s Pier area on the Point. In essence, what this means, is that this popular beach will be buried under a pile of steel and concrete, robbing the man in the street of this truly family beach environment and turning it into a playground only for the super rich. We believe that this will not only forever change the lives of those who enjoy this natural watersports playground through the various clubs, but of all the people of Durban who use this area extensively for numerous recreational activities. The fact that our municipality is a 50% shareholder of DPDC makes this an even more bitter pill for the ratepayers to swallow. As this development is also funded by ratepayers’ money, it basically means that not only do we lose our beach, but pay to lose it too! Can we just sit back and allow our City Council to do that to us?
Vetch’s Beach, being the province’s most heavily-used and safest government-appointed launch site, has been the home of various water sports clubs since the mid 1950’s. These clubs were created by the public and are being run by the club members without ever receiving any financial assistance from the city or the government. They have provided wonderful recreational facilities for all the citizens and visitors to our city, taking care of all their safety issues and today contribute over R500 million annually to the city’s GDP. If this SCH goes ahead, these non-profit clubs will have to raise R25-R30 million just to be a part of this development. Repayment of such loan, levies, municipal rates and operational costs will no doubt take membership out of the reach of the man in the street. Subsequently, the clubs along with the safety and enjoyment they provide will crumble.
Vetch’s Pier has been in existence since the mid 19th century and is one of the largest sub-tidal mussel beds in the entire KZN Coastline hosting an estimated 85 tons of mussels. It is also the home of millions of other marine creatures, which help sustain the food-chain on our beachfront. This has made Vetch’s Pier an extremely popular snorkeling hot spot for all novice divers in the city as well as being used by recreational and subsistence fishermen. The sheltered waters of the beach also provide the ideal conditions for windsurfers, paddlers, learner surfers and various other water sport activities. The reef itself also provides a world-class right-hand surfing breaks under the right conditions. There can be no doubt that these activities will cease to exist, should the SCH go ahead.
In August 2009 all of the 14 appeals against the authorization of the SCH were, we believe without good reason, dismissed, thus paving the way for construction to commence. For many people this meant the end of the road for all the objectors. But a group of dedicated and passionate people decided not to accept what was being forced upon us and do something about it. Objectors, which include the Wildlife Society of South Africa, members of the ski boating, sailing, subsistence angling, paddle skiing, surfing communities and other private individuals, have formed a properly constituted “Public Interest Group” known as Save Vetch’s Association and intend taking the decision on review to the High Court, which is the final legal avenue open to the public. We believe that the original EIA findings, the Record of Decision and the MEC’s response to the appeals were seriously flawed, all of which will be revealed during the course of the legal process.
Unfortunately, justice does not come cheap in this country and costs for such court action will be substantial. The Durban Paddle Ski Club has pledged a considerable amount of money, but much more is needed, if we are to succeed in saving Vetch’s Beach. We appeal to all beach users such as ski boaters, divers, sailors, surfers, paddle skiers, windsurfers, beach strollers, swimmers, fishermen and other beach lovers to support our efforts to retain our natural environment for our children and future generations of all the people of South Africa. Whilst we are not objecting to the landside rejuvenation of the Point area, the loss of Vetch’s Beach is totally inappropriate and simply too big a sacrifice to make. We believe that the citizens of this city have the right to have access to our most valuable asset, the Indian Ocean, and the water sports users certainly deserve a better deal than what has been forced upon us by our municipality and their developer allies. We believe that the short-term financial interests of an elite few investors have been placed over and above the long-term social interests of the rate-paying public and our visitors.
If you agree with our sentiments, please join us in supporting the battle to stop the destruction of yet another important part of Durban’s social heart by contributing generously to our fund:
- Standard Bank - Branch: Gale Place - Branch Code 042526 - Account Name: Save Vetch’s Association - Account No: 25 172 8307
More information and updates will be made available on this website where you can register as a supporter of Save Vetch’s Association.
Facebook Group: save vetchs beach.
Should you wish to assist us in distributing information or in any other way, please contact Johnny Vassilaros on 083 458 6650 083 458 6650 or Mike Larmont on 076 823 7577 076 823 7577 .

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unedited version of Jean Lindsay's letter to the Editor ( The Mercury )


I write as a frequent user of Vetch’s beach for more than 30 years. Vetch’s beach and sea bring back many memories of sailing boats, boardsailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, walking and just relaxing on the beach.

Vetch’s is a world class sailing venue providing safe and ‘soft’ launching and landing for many competitors. I represented South Africa in 1980 sailing in the States, Canada and Denmark and Vetch’s provided me and many others with an excellent training area and equipped us to compete internationally in any waters in the world.

Snorkeling and scuba diving along Vetch’s reef has opened up for many the beauty and amazing ecology of life under the sea.

The new “Option S” has the following undesirable implications for water sport users :
The narrow 100m launch and landing area for sailing boats will be a nightmare in certain weather conditions.
The 50 m entrance with all hardened surfaces will be difficult and dangerous to negotiate under certain wind conditions.
Scuba divers will have to carry heavy equipment about 300m from the Club house to the diving area.
I question the super basement for parking with climate change and rising levels of sea water and storm surges.
‘Wind shadows’ from the proposed buildings below the High Water Mark will impact on the movement of sailing boats to exit and enter the harbour area.
Snorkeling and scuba diving on Vetch’s reef alongside the new proposed peer with resultant surges will often be a most unpleasant experience.

Vetch’s is a unique, affordable recreational facility. It is a child and family- friendly amenity, an excellent learner space for many water sport activities and has (or had until recently) easy public movement and access.

Once again our environment suffers as a result of greedy developers. Will this be another ‘white elephant’ that the rate payers will have to bail out in future ?

I strongly oppose this destruction of our precious natural heritage for man-made structures and propose that this special 500 m of Vetch’s beach be left as is for future enjoyment of all citizens of eThekwini.


Jean D Lindsay January 2008.
Passionate about Vetch’s.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Save ItSpeaking of South Africa, many Anarchists will have sailed off the coast of Durban, a city that boasts warm water and good sailing breeze. Classes that have held events here include 505's, Lasers, Hobie Cats, Finns, Fireballs, J22's and Mirrors. We even have a Flying Tiger here!
Since South Africa entered the Americas Cup with the Shosholoza Team, sailing is enjoying much greater publicity in the country. However, this great venue is under threat from a greedy bunch of property developers who are exploiting loopholes in the law, in order to grab land and evict the Watersports clubs that currently exist at the launch site known as Vetch's Beach. There is indeed a public outcry. If this is allowed to happen the development of sailing will take a huge knock; so much so that it is predicted that Hobie Cats will disappear from Durban forever. Sound good? We don't think so either. Send comments to
The Water Rat10/30/07

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Mercury today ( 29 October 2007 )

Vetch's Pier area will be lost to our children
October 29, 2007 Edition 1
The controversial proposed development of Vetch's Pier should be given continued prominence.
As a life member of the Point Yacht Club, I was involved in developing the club's beachsite at Vetch's Pier and enjoyed my sailing days off that beach, but the way things are going, no future generations will have the same pleasure.
Big money and the apparent complicity of the municipality are determined to make this so.
It is the intention to develop a small-craft marina at Vetch's Pier. Having been associated with the present well-protected yacht marina in the Bay from inception and observed the wear and tear, and occasional storm damage, I consider a marina in the more turbulent Vetch's Pier area is condemned to failure.
Heavy swells would rapidly create maintenance problems, not to mention storm damage.
Who is to bear the cost of maintaining this marina for the wealthy few?
No doubt the ratepayers would be expected to pick up the tab and by so doing, subsidise the property developers and owners who wish to deny the public the free use of Vetch's.
Ken Leigh