While most of Australia slept off a big night on New Year's Eve, some of the toughest surf lifesavers in the country began a 190km race from Batemans Bay to Eden.
From 1st til 7th January, these surf lifesavers competed in the 2012 Navy George Bass Surfboat Marathon – the longest, toughest open sea surfboat event in the world. It's an event so tough, that it takes place biannually, giving competitors enough time to recover from (or forget?) the physical strain involved.This year's event was a mixed bag, with some perfect sunny days that even the dolphins came out to enjoy. Others days tested both the physical and mental strength of the crews, with vicious surf and strong winds causing a considerable amount of carnage out at sea.
Twenty three elite male and female surf boat crews and 18 surf ski paddlers from Sydney clubs, the Illawarra, ACT, Victoria and NSW completed the event on the Far South Coast of NSW over seven consecutive hard fought days.
The George Bass Marathon was first held in 1975, with twelve crews. It was the brainchild of then Bega Newspaper editor Curly Annabel, who wanted to recreate part of the journey in December 1797 of early explorer Surgeon Commander George Bass. Surf skis were added to the event for the first time during the 1990s.
Now in it's 37th year, the event fosters teamwork, courage and competitiveness in a race for glory, along some of the best coastline in Australia.Final Surf boat placings:
- OPEN MEN: Moruya (Canberra) Vikings clear leaders by 11 points (winning each of the seven days for the second consecutive race). 2nd - Wollongong City, 3rd - Torquay.
- VETERAN MEN: 1st place Bulli, 2nd Tathra, 3rd Narooma.
- OPEN WOMEN: 1st Torquay (winning each of the seven days), 2nd Broulee Coasties, 3rd Moruya (Canberra) Vikings.
- VETERAN WOMEN: 1st place to Pambula Power, 2nd Tathra, 3rd Pambula PearlsA.
Final surf ski placings:
1st - Michael Locke, 2nd - Dean Gardiner, 3rd - Craig Vipond.