Leon Thomas

He then moved to Sydney after he left the shipping company and founded a business with a partner that was to become Lynx Engineering in Croydon. At first mainly specialising in wrecking/building/ racing/ repairing/ MGTC sports cars, the business grew and branched out to cover modifying and 'hotting up' all types of cars. In the early 70's Lynx branched out into boatbuilding, making 16 and 18 foot “Sidewinder” speed boats under license from a company in California, these were popular and in the mid 70's Leon sold out of Lynx taking as part of the payout the Sidewinder moulds and rights to build them. During this period Leon always owned a boat, ranging from a 24 foot Savage Ranger, 24 foot Mustang which he finished from lock-up stage and a 28 Bertram which were all used as fishing platforms, mainly for bottom fishing. He also always had a ski boat and loved weekends away on the Hawkesbury River water skiing.

Leon married Patricia in the mid 60's, had a son, Brett in 1969 and a daughter, Lyndel and 1971 all loved boating and were always out on the harbour or at sea fishing on weekends.

He sold Sidewinder Marine in '78, sold the Bertram 28 then bought his first charter boat- a 52 foot concrete constructed bottom fishing charter boat renamed Sidewinder, taking out up to 20 punters drift fishing for reef fish out of Sydney Harbor. He sold Sidewinder a few years later and bought a smaller commercial (LFB) and charter fishing boat called Hapuku, a 38 foot fibreglass Randell cray boat style vessel which was also a half reasonable game-fishing boat. Leon was doing bottom-fishing charters, commercial fishing which included tuna long-lining, trap fishing for crays and reef fish and bottom set long-lining. At this stage he also doing the occasional charter chasing Marlin, Tuna and sharks on the continental shelf off Sydney.

In around 1981 Leon moved the family from Cabarita on Sydney Harbour to Newport on the northern beaches and based Hapuku out of Pittwater, basically doing the same sort of fishing trips when weather permitted.

While operating out of Newport Leon became friendly with other local commercial fishermen and found himself working as crew on several of the local deep sea trawlers. One of these trips ended in near disaster when the trawler 'Pequod' sank in 110 fathoms off Terrigal at 11 o'clock at night in July. Leon and the skipper ended up in a 12 foot tinnie for 36 hours, constantly being blown further out to sea by the westerly winds. Leon spent all the time suffering from a dislocated shoulder he received when getting out of the wheelhouse of the trawler as it rolled over on its side. They were eventually spotted and picked up 50 nautical miles to sea by a NZ navy frigate that was doing exercises with an RAN submarine.

After the ordeal Leon kept fishing the Hapuku slowly but surely getting more involved in the local gamefishing scene, becoming a member of Broken Bay Game Fishing Club in 1984. Brett started as a junior angler with the club at the same time and Gamefishing became more and more the focus of  their charter efforts. Some of the better captures in those Hapuku days were a 176kg Blue Marlin, (caught in 1986 when the actual practice of Blue Marlin fishing was in its infancy) Yellowfin Tuna of 188 pounds cleaned, Y/fin Tuna 88kg, Mako sharks up to 240kg and Tiger sharks up to 410kg.