‘Gary doesn’t just row boats’: ‘Gazza’ christened in Torquay boat reveal

BOAT baptisms at Torquay Surf Life Saving Club can be an emotional but happy day and Sunday was no different.

Hundreds of members gathered in the club’s backyard to listen to speeches, take photos and christen the club’s new $30,000 crew boat sponsored by the Torquay Hotel.

Members of all ages were there for the unveiling of the newest addition to the boat ranks.

MC for the reveal, club captain Julian Sweeney, named the boat after member Gary “Gazza” Pettigrove for his long and successful tenure as a life member and vital role with the club since joining in 1969.

Mr Pettigrove is the son of SLSC Torquay founding members John and Wilma Pettigrove, and is also a recipient of the Wishart Medal, the highest individual honor that can be awarded to a Victorian lifeguard.

“It’s a huge honour,” Mr Pettigrove said after the revelation.

“My family has four boats named after them, it’s a big deal for one member to have one but to have four in our family is just a huge honour.

“My parents were the ‘Gold Stars’ of this club and I was just another member of Torquay, but I love this club and am very lucky to be a part of it.”

Gary Pettigrove alongside President Tiffany Quinlan and club captain Julian Sweeney.

Gary has rowed and been mentored by some of Torquay’s biggest SLSC legends including John ‘Moose’ Russell, John Heathcote and Ray Heathcote, the brothers of the club’s current men’s sweep, Neil ‘Hec’ Heathcote.

“Gary doesn’t just row boats,” said Torquay SLSC President Tiffany Quinlan.

“He contributed more than any of our other members to be brutally honest.

“He mentored me, he’s an incredible human being, he gave his life and his soul to this club and the baptism is well deserved.”

Gary’s wife, Jenny, did the honors of ‘christening’ the boat.

Another club figure to learn under Mr Pettigrove was Mr Sweeney.

“I won my bronze medal under Gary, so everything I’ve done in the last 30 years has been a result of Gary,” Sweeney said.

“I thank Gary for what he has done for the club and my family. My daughter is rowing now, she wouldn’t do this without Gary and like the Wishart Medal says, it goes to the champion lifesaver, and that’s a champion.

The Torquay Hotel’s new boat will cruise the waves at Vic State Champs in Warrnambool this weekend before heading to the Australian Championships in Queensland.

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