Monday, January 12, 2009

Third Umpire?

I had a particularly good stage Mckenzie's Headland to Icebergs in yesterday's Rough Water because of the "third umpire". Wondering where the heck to go to find the next mark after turning at McKenzie's, I heard a board paddler say: "Head for the tall building - the hotel". Which I did and sailed straight to the mark while those ahead went south.

The North Bondi Surf Club boys were on the job throughout, directing traffic and creating a relatively narrow corridor for swimmers. It meant even the navigational drongos got it right. Is this a good thing? I think not. Spot Anderson babbles on ad nauseam trying to convince us trainees to navigate: swim straight to the buoys. He goes on and on and on about it. And he's right: you can transform your day with a bit of navigation.

The thing is, when you're busting for air, aching all over and suffering spears of shark-attack terror, it takes something to assemble your mind to really navigate. It's a wonderful part of the mental struggle of ocean swimming and it should be left to competitors to sort it out, not the "third umpire".

Bill Macartney


  1. Sorry but, unfortunately we do need the "Third Umpire".

    I "t-boned" a swimmer earlier in the season, who had missed a bouy. Then he refused to go back and round the bouy despite my pleasant request. He simply stopped, looked at me then continued swimming.

  2. Yeah Bill,

    I'm with you. I don't often applaud the mistakes of others but I do derive a modest degree of satisfaction to see faster swimmers than me heading of on a wild goose chase, and then meeting up with them at the next mark knowing that they've just spent a lot more energy getting there than I did. I suppose the only concern is that the clubbies have to keep such wayward swimmers away from the rocks and beach break (if there is one on the day), or indeed New Zealand, and it would be a lot harder to manage them if they were spreadout all over the place like Brown's cows.

    However I reckon you are right in that half the job of ocean swimming is being able to hold a good course in the rough and tumble of the field and the sea, and indeed turn the latter to your advantage wherever possible by such means as tracking for swell or foxing for a wave.

    And for those who like me are a little optically challenged (and I don't mean just plain ugly), I can thoroughly recommend investing in a pair of those you beaut View goggles with the prescription lenses. They've made a massive improvement in my seeing the bouys and landfall alike.

    I hope I haven't given away too many tricks. I suppose if you know what I'm talking about then you're probably doing it already, and if you don't, then don't worry yourself with such weighty matters.

    Happy navigating


  3. Hi Bill,
    I consider that you took advantage of the third umpire, as would I. However, the irony is that many people new to beach swims, don't/can't (due to tiredness etc..).

    Keep the third umpire, they are essential, for everyone of all abilities and lens prescription.

    However, maybe I could have been 10th instead of 12th if I had only cut in a little sooner for that last bouy......or ran a bit faster up the beach.... or stopped a bit sooner as I floundered in the waves... No bloody third umpire at the finish! Other than "run faster he's beating you", from a great crowd of supporters.

    Another year another story....

    Jeremy Whitehurst

  4. Apology from North Bondi SLSC Roughwater Swim organiser

    Dear All
    Very Sorry we ran out of drinks! At least we got the weather right at' Lake Bondi Resort'.

    As a keen ocean swimmer myself I know how important it is to have water or sports drinks available to drink after a swim. We received an extra 350 entries on the Saturday and Sunday taking our total entries to 1050.

    Unfortunately we only had 800 Powerade bottles. We gave out bottles to 1km finishers before it was realised "Houston, we have a problem..." So we decanted the remaining bottles into cups as quickly as we could and handed cups out to 2km finishers.

    Again we ran out, so we ran a hose from the gear shed and poured water into cups to take care of as many thirsty customers as we could.

    However, I know there were some people we missed so on behalf of North Bondi, I am really sorry. Please be assured we will do our best to ensure this doesnt happen again. Don't worry there will be plenty of Powerade and water at the Classic.

    There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the drink shortage was a deliberate strategy to increase the Club's Bar sales!.

    Thank you to all this seasons Roughwater swimmers - hope you enjoyed it! And good luck in the North Bondi Classic on the 8th of February.


  5. Agree with Davo - the view prescription goggles available from are UNREAL! Highly commend them to all (visually impaired) fine ocean swimmers.


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