Late lifesaver to ride waves again aboard new boat

A STRAND of talented lifesaver Robert "Bongo" Thomasson's hair will ride the waves aboard a new surf boat launched in his honour at Maroochydore.

Nearly 21 years has passed since the champion lifesaver's life was cut short in a crash while he was driving to work.

He was only a month away from turning 21.

His parents Cyril and Diane Thomasson travelled from Rockhampton to be at Maroochydore beach on Sunday for the launch of Robbie T.

It was a drive they knew well, having done the same commute countless times so their son could compete as a nipper and cadet at Maroochydore.

Robert Thomasson competed for Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club before he was killed in a car crash in 1996.
Robert Thomasson competed for Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club before he was killed in a car crash in 1996. Contributed

The launch was only the second surf boat named in honour of a Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club nipper.

The first was named after the late Matt Barclay.

Mrs Thomasson christened the boat with some sparkling white wine before producing a lock of her son's hair and dropping it in.

She was emotional and extremely proud.

"He was such a fierce competitor and trained hard, that's what the crew and sweep will do," Mrs Thomasson said.

Cyril and Diane Thomasson celebrate the launch of a new surf boat named in honour of their late son Robert.
Cyril and Diane Thomasson celebrate the launch of a new surf boat named in honour of their late son Robert. Stuart Cumming

Maroochydore club life governor Ralph Devlin said the idea of naming the state-of-the-art boat after Robert came up while he was having a beer with Cyril.

He recalled watching Robert catch a wave in "mountainous" seas at Kurrawa on the Gold Coast to become Australian Open Surf Race champion in 1996.

"He caught a wave from the cans, (it was) magnificent," Mr Devlin said.

Robert had also been a Australian junior ironman champion and been a member of a winning Taplin relay team.

"He loved a big sea and was a magnificent waterman," Mr Devlin said.

Cyril and Diane Thomasson celebrate the launch of a new surf boat named in honour of their late son Robert.
Cyril and Diane Thomasson celebrate the launch of a new surf boat named in honour of their late son Robert. Stuart Cumming

The boat will be used by men and women, with its first run scheduled for the Queensland titles next week.

Cyril said he considered the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club as a part of his extended family.

"We see the movement (surf lifesaving) as one of the greatest if not the greatest movements in Australia," Cyril said.



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