TALENTED SENIOR: Colin Verrall is a man actively engaged in life on the water and on the land.
TALENTED SENIOR: Colin Verrall is a man actively engaged in life on the water and on the land.

Colin Verrall: mastering his sport and community

WHEN Great Grand Master Colin Verrall isn't competitively sailing; not on big boats, but on a tiny one-man dinghy, the inspirational senior is doing his best to protect his local environment.

Colin's been sailing various big and small boats since he was 15, but it's only in the last five years that Colin has dragged his old 12-foot Laser dinghy out of the backyard, cleaned out the beehive in the stern and the leaves off the hull, given it a polish and headed to Brisbane to line up with his 40-year-old son Andrew.

The first foray back into the little boat was when Colin turned 65. He found during the first year of trying to get his body moving again using a specially designed frame shaped like the hull of the boat he damaged his back.

"I could sail around the course, but I couldn't walk up the ramp afterwards," Colin said. "I had three bulging discs and they wanted to operate on my back, but I knew there had to be a better way."

A the time his surgeon's wife was running a functional movement program which focuses on strengthening up and aligning the back. Colin completed a eight week program with her and hasn't looked back since.

Every day the Coolum resident is physically active. He swims with this red kelpie Nullah and is back to exercising on the boat frame.

"I am now racing in regattas as a Great Grand Master," Colin said.

Now at 70, he does club races in Brisbane every Saturday along with regional and State championships.

Racing out of Brisbane gives him the chance to sail with, and against Andrew. "Occasionally I beat him," Colin said.

"I am contemplating a world championship in Melbourne this summer.

"I hope to race to 75 and become a Legend; that's the next category. I expect to keep going to at least 80."

When he's not helming his own boat, Colin leads the organising team for the May long-weekend Bay to Bay Yacht Race which runs from Tin Can Bay via Garry's Anchorage to Urangan at Hervey Bay and attracts over 100 boats each year. Next year will be his 40th year at the helm.

"I enjoy the enjoyment people get from the race," Colin said. "It's more than just a sailing race. It's a passage through a fairly pristine area of the Great Sandy Strait with the heritage area of Fraser Island to the east. It's a magical place."

The former technical advisor to the mining and powerline construction industries other passion is his community wellbeing. "I am a member of Coolum and Northshore Coast Care Group, the Organisation of Sunshine Coast Residents Associations and Development Watch," Colin said.

He also attends reconcilliation meetings with traditional owners. "I have a sense of emphathy for other points of view other than my own and a desire to see equity between the different points of view," Colin said.

Out in conservation reserve behind Coolum where Colin does his daily fitness walks with Nullah and he finds a range of wildlife which he wants to see protected. "I'm not anti-development, but I just want to see enough space left for animals to still roam around here instead of just a couple of possums and lizards." he added.

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