This year's nuttiness was the cap on the number of swimmers. It meant a number of people missed out on swimming altogether or were forced to switch from the 2km main swim to the 800m event.
This is the first time in the seven-year history of the swim that the 700-swimmer limit has been reached. And that was despite a huge downpour the night before. People who were planning to come to Noosa swim did not come. They don’t want to do the mini-swim.
Furthermore, numbers won’t sit on the ‘rev limiter’ for long. If numbers can’t go up, they’ll go down. This isn’t nuttiness on the part of organisers USM who handle major events such as the Noosa and Mooloolaba Triathlons so a few hundred in an ocean swim is a doddle. Even the bike rides the day after the swim expected an overall peleton of 2500.
No this is general Noosa nuttiness, in this case the Noosa Parks folks. In the past, this has required swimmers wait up in the bush before moving down onto Ti-tree Beach for the race start. I can’t even take a guess at that one.
For a couple of years, swimmers had to walk from the bus drop-off point at the National Park carpark to Ti-tree by the fire trails rather than the regular footpaths, obviously so that ocean swimming hooligans did not crowd out the regular National Park-goers. At 7am.
Even this year, we were instructed to straggle along the National Park footpath in small groups.
This precious ‘Noosa’ attitude condemns this event to small-time status, never able to grow to a Byronesque 2000. What would Noosa do if 300-odd people turned up the day before the event for a walk-the-course social swim like they do in Byron?
Part of the attraction of ocean swimming is the social aspect, swapping tall tales of well-remembered disaster swims with people you may not have seen in the previous 12 months. This multi-day festival of ocean swimming could happen at Noosa because it as all the natural attractions of plenty of coffee shops and a stunning A-to-B style course which can range from flat track mill-pond conditions and bright sunshine like last weekend to three or four years ago when a howling westerly blew up a huge chop that must have been half a metre, no at least a metre, or more. Ask anyone.
I haven’t spoken to anyone at USM but it must be frustrating to have their swim capped at 700 when they see the explosion in ocean swimming in Queensland (and Byron) in the past couple of seasons with the three new Weekend Warrior events, Burleigh hitting 500 in their first year and Byron breaking 2000.
They (USM) ran their usual tight ship fronted by the cheerful and knowledgeable Benny Pike on the microphone.
The things they can control, USM do well. World champion Melissa Gorman is now a Noosa regular. Three weeks ago, she trailed men’s winner Ky Hurst home by just seven seconds at Byron. At the weekend, she blew the women away in the first few hundred metres for a comfortable win.
In the men’s race, Brendan Capell had to wait until the final few metres to score from Dev Lahey, the Grimsey brothers and Commonwealth Games butterfly hope Nick D’Arcy.
After a hectic couple of months, in fact the only two months that get hectic in Queensland, our season comes to an end with the new 3.8km Weekend Warriors event at Caloundra. As with the two previous ‘Dubya Dubya’ events, there are a couple of contentious points. First, there are only three age groups: under 17, 17 to 36 and over 36. Also suits are in. So if you are philosophically opposed to suits, do you stick to your conviction and battle the double handicap of swimmers almost 20 years younger with suits on, or get rubbered up in the best suit you can beg, borrow or buy. The temptation to join the dark side is strong since I do have a black beauty hanging in the wardrobe. No no no no – how could I wear a suit after all the ridicule I have handed out in the past. But it’s just a suit. It’s not as though it’s a burqua or something.
I’ll let you know.
Also, at the moment, we are going against the prevailing conditions. That is, check-in and briefing are at Kings Beach before the field is bussed to the start at Moffat’s to swim roughly south (i.e. against the sweep) back to Kings.
- Roger Muspratt
There were the usual nutty suspects of the café in Hastings Street with the chairs facing the footpath and more roundabouts per kilometre than in any OECD country.