Monday, December 14, 2009

Big day at Billy, history in Bay of Islands...

It was a big day at Bilgola, we hear, although we weren't there ourselves. We're told there were around 750 mugs there -- a big increase on last year. Well deserved, too, although as our antagonist, Glistening Dave, pointed out to us, "Billy is in danger of losing its status as a boutique swim."

We did hear disturbing reports, from two sources., of argy bargy in the laydees elites The reports put it that one elite laydee hit another over the head and ripped off her goggles. Not the kind of behaviour we expect of elite laydees, and very disappointing to hear . We reckon these races should be contests of swimming ability, not of wrestling or extra-curricular aggression. If you want to behave like that, we say, stay at home.

Anyway, tell us all about it... Click "Comments" below to leave your contribution.

We were in New Zealand at the Bay of Islands swim, the first of its kind from Russell, formerly known, in early colonial days, as "the hell hole of the Pacific", now as "Romantic Russell". Sounds like a marketer's tag line. But it certainly is a beautiful place. The swim ran across the bay to Paihia, which abuts Waitangi, where NZ nationhood was born in 1840. Such a beautiful place. And much more peaceful there now than when the oppressive Britishi imperialist colonialists were suppressing the Maori tribes.

We'll have more complete reports on both swims, but tell us what you thought in the meantime...


  1. Amazing Billygolah oceanswimm. Helpfull Officials, parking with a shuttlebus, fruit,water and a Lady to undo my ankle bracelet,all for $25.00 entry fee. Perhaps the Pirates of Cole should ask the Billygolah surf club to run the Cole at a reasonable entry fee. Full marks for delaying the start to get the stranded swimmers from porter's reserve as the shuttle bus was working overtime
    Thankyou Mr Bilgolah

  2. Methinks they'll doin well to keep the "boutique" tag goin on Billy. With so many punters, getting aroung the cans was like the foyer at Myer's for the opening of the post christmas sale. Nothin wrong with a bit of competitive argy bargy but one had to be well on ones guard for those deadly breaststrokers; they was everywhere.

    Along with the slightly challenging conditions of a brisk southeast chop, atop a low nor'east swell, the madding crowd made for a pretty scrappy race. But it I wasn't there for a haircut. It was one o those real ocean swims, but blessed with lovely sunny day.

    The shuttle bus was bit on the "mini" side so maybe a couple of buses next year. As usual the apre race Billy barbie was in top nic and 'twas a great day. Well done to the billy mob, especially considerin the record setting entries.

    Bilgola, you've come of age now, you belong to the world of oceanswimming; maybe "Big Billy" next year, but no longer "Boutique".



  3. I'm not sure I would want this event to get any bigger. Bilgola's beautiful location at a small beach between 2 headlands at the bottom of a hill means the course is restricted to a small circuit with tight turns at the markers. I didn't particularly enjoy yesterday's swim to be honest. The thick weed at the start and easterly chop was ok, it added to the challenge. However I did seem to be swimming really close to and boxed in with other competitors the whole way. I gave out and received an extraordinary amount of bumping and accidental hits to other swimmers. The organisers were welcoming and friendly as usual and water safety was great. I just got the feeling there were too many swimmers on the day. How about a journey swim next year, Newport to Bilgola, a little longer with more gentle turns around the buoys.

  4. I do agree with you Richard but keep it within Bilgola just increase the amount of waves from 4 to 6/7 with 3 minute intervals. I do enjoy the shorter faster races.....

  5. Help - this was my 3rd ocean swim but i really struggled to get out past the break and subsequently I didn't finish the swim. i was wondering how hard the swim was past the break and perhaps if I had persevered it would have been ok. Could use some tips to help me get back into it .....

  6. I agree with Richard and Juliet,
    I love Bilgola.

    However, stinky weed and choppy conditions made it hard going for this old duck (whinge whinge whinge).

    And the late start? Don't blame the small bus, blame the (let's register on the day if we're not too hungover) Gen Y newbies who think ocean swimming is the new cool and whose parents never taught them about being punctual. Like, guys, it's not a freakin' rave. Get there with time to spare.


  7. 3rd time around at Bilgola. Another great swim and you could see the bottom most of the way around. Ditto on the need for more waves of swimmers. Maybe have different start area from the finish area so you can split up into as many waves as you like.

  8. No longer a boutique swim indeed. Time to re-think those 15 year age-groups as well as increase the number of waves / time between waves. 11am start was pretty late (and then delayed), but it was also a beautiful day, so I personally didn't mind the extra time on the beach and a warm-up after a 45 minute wait to get on the shuttle bus. (Also good to have a late start on the most popular christmas party weekend of the month!)

    This was my 3rd year and I love this swim, but with the growing numbers, the organisation next year might need to be thought out a bit differently. Nonetheless, it was very well handled given all the manual entries on race day morning.

  9. My compliments to the Bilgola organisers for organising another top swim. Great to see such a big number of swimmers on the day. Yes there was weed in the break, and yes it was choppy, but that is part of ocean swimming. It adds to the flavour. Just think, some people pay loads of money to go to a spa for "sea mineral" and seaweed skin treatments. We had it for nothing but our entry fee on Sunday!

    Some suggestions to improve future swims: perhaps an earlier start so that we do not stand in the sun so long when UV is extreme. Could registrations on the day close, say, 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled start?

    And this is one that all ocean swims organisers might like to consider - because there are so many new and inexperienced swimmers coming into the sport, and many of them do a lot of breaststroke, why not have a back of the pack wave for those who like to breaststroke? Some of the fun runs I have done have a back of the pack start for those who like to walk some of the distance or push their strollers. That way they have fun and are not in the way of the runners.

    Thanks, Bilogola - I really enjoyed myself.
    Rosie Langley

  10. In defence of the 'Gen Y newbies' there were all sorts of people in the queue for late entries and pre-registered. i don't think age was a factor in the slightest.

    i think it's admirable that the organisers even allow on-the-day entries - most events on this scale no longer do it because of the logistics problems that ensue.

    As for the bus delays - the fact that someone blocked the route out of the car park with their car for half an hour may have something to do with it.

    the race itself was cracking - lots to think about with the swell and seaweed and so on.

    big shout out to the leaders of the green wave - one of whom punched me in the face as he swam (literally) through me!

  11. I agree with Rosie, 11 am is a late start, made even later by late arrivals. By my reckoning, I think there were about 430? on line entries yet over 700 swimmers? So that's around 40% of people who get up and decide to swim on the day. Are they scared of no refund with a cancellation? I don't know, but the swell/weather forecasts are quite accurate nowadays, so only takes a little nouse to work out conditions on the day, a few days ahead. Plus if you enter online, you are helping the organisers out by enabling them to plan better, get the race going on time, etc. For mugs like me, who have a 400 km round trip for ocean swimming entertainment each weekend, getting away on time is necessary, or I'll end up in the doghouse!

    Also agree with Rosie that a back of the pack swim would be a good idea for the flouncers.

  12. Loved it! Challenging to a older newbie who hadn't swum that far before and the chop made it hard going out the back, but being a slow swimmer, I suspect I missed a bit of the argy bargy everyone is referring to, though I did find myself getting wedged out by swimmers just ahead, more than once. Any tips on how to avoid this?

    Great day overall - thanks to all at the beach for making it a swim to remember.

  13. I really loved Billy.
    It was delightful. What a splendid day.
    So much weed I couldn't believe it wasn't the 70's.
    Can I still wear my bright blue pants next year?

    Michelle Heeks

  14. Whilst I enjoyed watching the Bilgola swim despite the less than perfect conditions and the club members put in a great as usual there are two areas of concern. Firstly the late start which was then further delayed as seems to happen every year. My boy is quite fair skinned and in these days of sun sense I think an earlier start would be more appropriate. I must have rubbed a litre of sunscreen into him during the morning. Secondly, I was even more concerned about the long soft sand run at either end of the swim. My boy is a healthy but solid lad built for swimming more so than running so it was quite sad to see him lumbering down the sand at the tail end of his wave and then struggling dejectedly up the beach at the end of the swim. Maybe next year organisers can move the start line a bit closer to the water......and hopefully in the meantime my boy can do some cross training.

    Doris O'Brien

  15. What no more fast skins next year!!! One only turns up to see the DOB crack, thats why the long run up the beach is so interesting, and "bluey" Heeks with those wonderful legs whilst getting redder and redder in the sun.

    DOB Fan Club

  16. I have to agree with you, Mrs O'Brien. Those long sand runs are unfair to BBS's (Big Beautiful Swimmers). Like the Whale and the Walrus, some of us have evolved an extra layer of body fat to cope with swimming in cold water and the demands of long endurance swims. In the water we move gracefully, in fact the extra buoyancy even helps a little. However, having to carry the topweight on land makes it an uneven contest in the sprint to the finish. I vote for an in-water start and finish at all open water events.

  17. Top swim - quite a challenge in the chop and the crowd.

    Didnt spot one breastroker wqhich makes a change but the experienced boofhead in the green cap who ran over, stopped and then stared down a first timer lady swimmer who was shoicked at being hit hard from behind at the farthest out buoy was a real shame. Why were there so many swimmers withpout caps ? got bored of queuing ? or couldnt afford the $25 ?

  18. Re some swimmers without caps - the organisers ran out of them. I was able to lend a friend one which I just happened to have floating around in my bag. So, it wasn't necessarily a case of people not paying, but goes back to the point made earlier in the blog about entering on line so that the organisers know how many people they are catering for.


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