Two teams from Narooma entered the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon this year: Nick Ziviani and Joe Halsey entered in the double ski category for the first time and our veteran surf boat crew entered the Masters Men’s division.
The seven-day marathon ran from Batemans Bay to Eden, and covered more than 190 kilometres of the most challenging coastal waters.
The race is widely recognised as the toughest surf boat race in the world.
Competitors came from around Australia to race, and Narooma has been an entrant in this event since its inception in 1975.
The Double Ski category was taken out by Narooma in a clean sweep, with Ziviani and Halsey winning every leg.
The Boat Crew also gained a place on the podium, coming third out of a field of 11 after gaining two second places, two third place, and three fourth places.
Considering they were competing in a tougher class, this was a result that was not only unexpected, but has spurred them on to train even harder and improve their results in two years time.
As with all activities in the club, there are many people who work behind the scenes to help the crew: family, friends, officials, catering crew and support crews on privately owned boats.
It was a real team effort and the club and Narooma are very proud of our teams.
Special leg for Narooma Masters Men’s crew
The third leg of the George Bass Marathon began at Coila Beach, with 13 surf skis and 25 surf boats on the water.
The course took the crews around Potato Point and Dalmeny before pulling into the beach near Narooma Surf Club, a 22 kilometre trek.
The crews were greeted by fantastic rowing conditions, with the only negative a slight south-easterly wind.
That didn’t stop the boats from flying down the coast, however, as the winning time of one hour, 46 minutes, and 45 seconds was more than 15 minutes faster than day two’s 18-kilometre leg.
Narooma’s Masters Men’s sweep Brendan Constable said day three’s leg was important to his crew.
“Hopefully it gives those boys a little extra to come home as quick as we can,” he said.
“It’s probably one of the most important legs to us, and I think it’ll spur them on a bit.”
Bulli’s Open Men’s crew won on all three days, and had a solid lead in the competition heading into day four.
Crew member Adam Barlow admitted day three’s leg was the toughest so far.
“Today was the big test,” he said yesterday. “We burnt a lot of energy yesterday (Monday).”
“We figured this would be the day that everyone would come out and have a crack at us.
“It took us a little while to shake them, and Long Reef just kept coming at us all day.”
North Cronulla’s Open Women’s crew copied the feats of Bulli, taking home their third successive leg win in a time of 1:53:09.
North Cronulla also entered a Men’s Masters crew in the competition, and spokesperson Steve Swane says the mix helped their preparation.
“We’ve got a good group of blokes and girls who have been training well together,” he said.
“Our men finished fourth today which was a bit of a bummer, but it was one of those off days.
“We’d like a big downhill skid tomorrow; we’d love a big north-easter to come in.”
Barlow believes the key to the rest of the competition is tactics.
“There’s a temptation to keep your best four going and really thrash them, but you can fall apart at the back end,” he said.
Swane echoed these sentiments, and said recovery was also key.
“Whoever can recover the best will do the best tomorrow,” he said.
“Even when you get out of the boat to get in the support boat to recover, you’ve still got to do it right.”
Not always smooth sailing
There was drama at Mystery Bay on Wednesday, January 3, as the support crew for Wanda’s Masters Men’s boat faced some mechanical issues.
Wanda’s support boat broke down during the grueling leg from Narooma to Bermagui, leaving them down a couple of rowers for a period of time.
They were soon back on the water in a borrowed inflatable rescue boat (IRB), adding to the challenge of the tough leg.
This was the second time a support boat had broken down during the George Bass Marathon, after Noosa’s support boat broke down on day three.
There was no replacement boat for Noosa, meaning the same four men rowed the entire leg from Tuross Head to Narooma.
They weren’t complete marooned however, as a number of other crews helped out with water and snacks during the leg.
Noosa was the last boat to arrive at Narooma Beach.