PHOTOS: Thundercats collide, man knocked unconscious
SPECTATORS at the King of Coolum Thundercats Race were shocked when two of the high-speed surf rescue boats collided, knocking a man unconscious and calling a temporary halt to the event.
"He was filling up with water and he was laying there, looking lifeless, with his mate trying to help him," spectator Daniel Toney said.
Mr Toney said that after about five minutes, the man seemed to regain consciousness and sat up, much to the relief of onlookers.
A sporting photography enthusiast, Mr Toney was "snapping away" when the mishap occurred at Coolum Beach yesterday.
Thundercat racing is a high-speed extreme water sport, featuring catamaran-style surf boats that can reach speeds of up to 90kmh and jump up to six metres in the air.
The inflated, motorised rubber Thundercat vessels had been manoeuvring around one of the markers on the course when they collided, Mr Toney said.
"Another boat's come on the inside of him," he said.
"The first boat has taken off again and launched himself on top of the other boat."
Mr Toney said he had seen the motor of the accelerating boat hit the driver of the other boat, knocking the man down.
"The boats were stuck together and then they broke free of each other," he said.
Mr Toney praised the efforts of organisers, who immediately deployed surf-lifesaving rescuers and first-aid teams.
"The passenger of the boat yelled out for help and people have just come running from everywhere," he said.
He said everyone on the beach - about a hundred people - had run to offer help.
"They're a pretty close, tight-knit kind of group," he said.
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman confirmed two men had been taken to Nambour General Hospital with minor injuries.
One of the men was 35 and had been treated for spinal injuries as a precaution, she said. The age of the second man was unknown.
Brisbane Coast Thundercats president and race director John Kerrisk said the race had been called to a halt for half-an-hour.
"There was a bit of a mishap but everyone's good," he said. "We've got safety procedures in place."
Organisers thanked six members of Coolum Surf Life Saving Club's water safety crew as well as competing clubs' first-aid officers for taking swift action.
Mr Kerrisk said the "great atmosphere" at the event hadn't been dampened.
"We're just hoping to get off the beach before the cold front comes through and we all end up freezing," he said.
"I think we've been lucky and dodged that."