Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coogee shows what it can do...

We have fond memories of Coogee. At a surf carnival there in 1974, we saw the duty boat at the end of the day catch the wave of the day, with a crew all drunk, and a boat sweep steering them down the biggest wave of the day with one hand on the sweep oar, the other holding a can of beer. The boat did a magnificent bottom turn in front of the wave, which then rolled it over. When it came up again, the crew was gone, but the sweep was still there, one arm over the quarter bar, the other still holding the can of beer.
The sweep's name was Sticks. He was the most unathletic-looking boatie: pallid complection, withered arms and legs, no definition, and a pit belly. But he was a very good sweep. And he got the biggest cheer of the day. Ah, boaties!

And we used to call the steps of the Oceanic Hotel Lourdes, because miracles happened there. After eastern suburbs surf carnivals, we'd head for the Oceanic, now replaced by the Crowne Plaza, and we'd re-row all the races we'd rowed that day. But, this time, we'd win them! So we called the steps, Lourdes.
Ah, boaties!
At the end of a simply perfect day today, Clovelly swimmer Graham Brewer said to us, "At last, Coogee shows what it has to offer..." It was just the perfect day. Gentle breeze at the outset, turning direction during the 1km swim to come from the nor'-west, so we're into it coming back from the island. But the swells, what swells there were, still picked us up, threw us forward into the breeze, and we kept coming. There was a little current out the back, not much, and not much compared with what Coogee can turn on out the back of the island.
And what about those jelly blubbers behind the island! Like swimming through half-set jelly. Surreal. It was a Dali swim. But they gave you something to grab.
A vignette from Mrs Sparkle, who spent the day seated on the steps above the presentation area, and who witnessed a woman in her 30s walk by the prize table and casually take one of the prize Coogee towels. Then, a few seconds later, three blokes did the same thing, but this time they were caught. All put the towels back, although one of them had wiped his face with it in the meantime. But the woman got away. Some people are grubs, and smart arses.
Our only complaint, and we make it every year: we hate conical booeys. When you're a swimmer, you need to see the fat part of the booeys. But with conical booeys, the fat part is at the bottom, and from the water, you just can't see it. The rest of the booeys, all the way up to the fine sharpened tips, are useless completely. At least they're better than the Bondi-Bronte booeys, which not only are conical, but also coloured either white or mauve. Go figure.
And the booeys were set a long way out from the island. We know the Coogee people have an eye for safety, and they otherwise run a very good swim. But it would be nice to get closer to the island.
But what a luvverly day. And we got home, tired but...

PS: Late Sunday, early Monday, we received an email from Sabine Braun, a German photographer, sojourning in Sydney. Check out Sabine's photo gallery from Coogee... (click here)

PPS BTW, don't be fooled: the next oceans swim in Sydney is not Bondi-Bronte, it's North Curl Curl on Saturday which, if conditions permit, offers a beautiful journey along the cliff towards Dee Why and back again. Water in which you'd never otherwise get to swim in the warmer months. It is a truly beautiful swim. Get down to North Curly. See for entry and info.


  1. The world is a beautiful place when one swims in the ocean. Coogee was bloody unreal. I reckon Neptune owes me some flat ones - and today I could see the bottom, breathe on both sides and revel in the magnificence of being (oh, except for those 'type A' people who kicked, punched and swam over me - what's an extra minute, ya losers? And this is 50+. Smell the friggin' roses).

    PS Agree, the buoys were way out. What island?

  2. Brillant swim except for the over keen racers who felt it was ok to elbow you in the stomach or swim right over you. Its a fun swim not a flipping race!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Compared to last year, weather perfect, flat, with a little roll behind the island and surreal swimming with all those jelly blubbers. Am sure I swallowed a few of those!! Looking forward to Bondi to Bronte next week!

  3. I don't mean to alarm anyone, but if they reckon they had 2000 swimmers the results show that about 350 have gone missing. I'm sure they'll turn up.....

  4. Proud parent who does not wish to be seen as pushyNovember 30, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    On Sunday, Kelly McCrae was randomly interviewed by Channel 7 reporter at Coogee before the main race, and ended up on the cutting room floor. When Kelly won Balmoral, she was interviewed and again ended on the cutting room floor.
    In both events, the male first swimmer was shown and no females. Yesterday, Luane Rowe should have been interviewed after the race. Yesterday, the race for the girls would have made a great report -- 2.5 k separated by 2 seconds.
    I would like to post this or something similar but I would be seen as the pushy Parent.
    The media ignores the female half of the population, the dipsticks.
    The best sporting match I have watched recently was the last Netball match for Liz Ellis against New Zealand.

  5. A lovely morning and good conditions for a challenging ocean swim.
    The colouring of the race caps almost outsmarted me. After I removed my specs to gear up for the swim, my very pale blue cap was looking similar to the white caps in the wave before me. A call by the starter for blue caps (not pale blue) had me hurrying to that start early. And some swimmers in other waves had been given white caps because the colours had run out.
    In the end I started correctly with my age group.
    My recorded time for the main swim was quite different to what I expected, given race pace & conditions. I didn't wear a watch, so just a feeling.
    Does anyone else think there may have been inconsistencies with some of the electronic recorded times ?

  6. What a brilliant day for ocean swim no.2! I didn't get stung, bitten, or rescued, the seas were flat, I managed to overtake some of the wave ahead (and get overtaken by some of the wave behind), the g/f won her age division, and I didn't get an expected parking ticket. Magic.

    As far as contact with other swimmers is concerned, yes there was a fair bit over the first 500 metres, but I don't think any of it was malicious - no elbows, fists, or fingernails involved. The only slightly dodgy moment was an ankle grab not far from the last yellow buoy which stopped as soon as it started, fortunately for both parties.

    Food was good, I was happy with the buoy placement once they moved the first orange one 50 metres south of where it started, and the general vibe was very positive. If I could make one small change, it would be to start the event an hour/hour and a half earlier to avoid the worst of the sun.

    Next weekend - Bondi to Bronte!

  7. Was it just me or was there an unusually high number of buoy-breast-strokers? I had to avoid the feet into my face manoeuvre at every buoy after the first couple, all different offenders too. Thanks too to the pink capped chick who gouged my leg at the last black and white buoy as she decided to cut across me and swim to the wrong side of the buoy.

    I hope the organisers got all their prize winning towels back after thieving members of the hoi-polloi nicked off with a couple of them the bastards.

    All told though it was a nice day for it and a lovely swim. I really should learn to breath on the right so I can see the view. Oh well!

  8. Absolutely Awesome. My first ocean swim, and was stood at the start terrified of cramps and sharks (that order) - wishing i'd gone in for the 1km event instead.
    Settled into it after the first km, amazing visibility when i dared look, perfect water, and am almost overwhelming sense of achievement after crossing the line.
    Was only trying to make it round in one piece, but was more then happy with my time in the end.
    Many thanks to Coogee, community and SLSC, for putting on such a great event.
    Apologies to the fellow whitecap who received an entirely accidental, but fairly swift, blow to the head in the final 3rd. Was neither being competitive not aggressive - just didn't see you.

    Hooked (as long as they're all like that!)

  9. I think there should be changing of the guard at, Sabrine to take the pitchers and Glenn Muir to write the stories.
    David Helsham

  10. Agreed, it's time to spill the leadership.
    I vote for Glenn to write all the race reports. And Sabine to take the photos. Although I didn't see any pics this week of the clouds and sky?

  11. I'd like to state, for the record, that Mr Os.c has my full support and undivided loyalty, and should be free to appoint an oceanswimming cabinet of his choice, and thus be allowed to get on with the business of oceanswimming, which has been made all the more difficult by those milign and disloyal factional figures within the oceanswimming community who have sought to undermine his authority, only to serve their own interests. There will be no challenge and I expect, come Monday, this will have all blown over and we'll all be able to get back on with the business of oceanswimming, something that all oceanswimming Australians rightly expect and deserve.

    Unequivocally yours,

    David Love.
    The member for my place.

  12. P.S. Huey turned on a crackerjack day at Coog on Sundy and the good folk of Coog put on yet another great race to boot. Congrats and thanks to all those involved. Youz are a credit to yerselves and yer cummunity.

    However I must say the comic paradox of the Member for Midnight Oil, The Federal minister for the'viroment, a former North Shore surfie, standing on an Eastern Suburbs beach, fully clothed, discharging a firearm (well, a relpica at least) in a built up area, on a Sundy (which used to be illegal in it's own right) gives me a cheap pre-christmas giggle every year.

    I hope he can see the mirth in it too.




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