A Coleraine Olympic hero has criticised thieves who stole engines worth thousands of pounds from rescue boats.
Watersport enthusiasts have been left angered by the theft of the equipment which was paid for through funds raised by members of Coleraine Yacht Club.
The engines had been fitted to safety boats which are deployed during races and training courses organised by the club
The theft has jeopradised a series of events which had been planned in the coming weeks, the busiest period of the year for those involved in the sport.
There are over 200 members of the cross-community club which was formed over 50 years ago.
Olympic rower Alan Campbell, who won bronze in London, said he was angered by the theft.
“It’s shocking really and I’ve no idea what motivates people behind these things.
“They obviously don’t realise the impact this has on others and it ruins it for those looking forward to events.
“It’s not acceptable, they’ve no moral compass.”
Members of Coleraine Yacht Club discovered the theft on Friday evening.
Those responsible are believed to have used bolt-cutters to access the boats which were stored at the club’s facilities at a marina off the Portstewart Road in the Co Londonderry town.
Cables and wires were cut in order to remove the engines.
Denzyl Dinsmore, a committee member of the club, said it would have required two or three men to move the engines which each weight around 100kg.
“We are hoping we can cover some of the loss through insurance but the club will be out of pocket,” he said.
“We had been planning powerboat and sailing courses over the next few weeks which are aimed at helping members improve and encourage people to try the sport.
“This certainly won’t help.”
Mr Dinsmore said club members had offered the use of their boats for events and local charity, the Community Rescue Service, has promised the use of one of its vessels.
“We will be meeting with police tomorrow and we hope those responsible may have been picked up on CCTV,” he added.
“The offers we have received including that of the Community Rescue Service is very much appreciated.”
Coleraine Yacht Club was formed in 1962 and is based on the banks of the River Bann.
Rowing brothers Richard and Peter Chamblers, also from Coleraine, secured silver medals at the Games.