Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rushing to Portsea and bumping at Mona Vale...

They loved the journey swim at Portsea again this year, and for the second week in a row there was a bump on along Sydney's northern beaches, this time from Warriewood to Mona Vale. But at Tathra, somewhere between the two on the NSW Far South Coast, we hear everything was just hunky dory.

Portsea used its journey course for the second year, after what is suspected to be the bay dredging of Port Phillip Bay robbed the town of its bay beach, eroded mysteriously to nothingness. But punters love the replacement course, this year extended to 1.5km, along the short of the Pt Nepean national park.

There was a bump on at Warriewood-Mona Vale, with many an inexperienced punter standing ashen on the beach as they watched the sets roll in. We reckon it was smaller than at Avalon the week before, but it was an ugly break, as it is so often at Warriewood. Uglier, certainly, than it was nasty. But that's not to discount the difficulty that many punters encountered as they attempted to get out either over the bank to the south, or through the slightly deeper water to the north.

The wind this year was from just south of east, the swell from the sou'-east, but the water was glorious - warm, clear, and no nasties. As you schlepped from south to north, every now and again you'd feel a following swell pick you up and thrust you forward amongst the bumps.

We heard only good reports from Tathra.

But tell us where you swam, what you experienced, and what you reckon about it all...


  1. Spurred on by Shayne's comments last week re the Avalon swim, which I missed, I was determined to do this week's Warriewood to Mona Vale swim, despite weather watchers predicting unsound swells and rain! And so glad I did - clear, warm water, friendly faces, fabulous fruit and the end and a raffle prize to boot! Thanks to all at Mona Vale for a great Sunday morning - I'm sure Don Jenkin is smiling over or down from somewhere! Annie P

  2. What a swim - and what a ride. So very well organised - at Mona Vale, at Warriewood, the bag transport, the start, the finish, and the fruit (seriously great spread).

    Starting at the beginning - and how easy to park at Mona Vale and then catch the shuttle to the start down south. That way I got to have a quick look at the finish before I contemplated the start. Windy day, looked choppy & turbulent, and it was.

    The start was mixed - watching that first wave go out, the group entered the surf and then seemed to split neatly into 2 - half drifting north and not making much headway and the rest battling forward. Not exactly straight to the buoy tho. So, armed with that knowledge, the next wave of swimmers moved as a loose pack a little bit more south along the beach, took up position and tried their luck. We watched again and it didn't seem to look much better - so again, the mass of swimmers seemed to shift further to the south on the beach and we tried again. Now I don't know what it looked like 'cause I was in that next wave - but I can only imagine it looked all over the place as that's how it felt. For once, I walked in, and took it easy - and maybe managed a straight-ish line to the can (when I could see it) - and got there without having used up all my energy. This paid off. Someone else can tell us what the next wave did - maybe they shifted north again, or further south, or maybe just went in to see what happened. I still think tho, that if we'd done a time-lapse video of this it would be comical.

    As for the swim - loved it - the water was warm, beautifully clear, and if you used the top of the big swell you could spot the cans and line 'em up with something higher - even that pesky last one. At one stage I had that thought that if you were prone to seasickness it wouldn't be so good as it was up / down / left / right and you just had to ride with it (although I don't think you can get seasick IN the sea). The challenge was trying not to 'ride' into someone else half the time - and I know I copped a few unintentional whacks and blows. I was on someone's feet at one stage - seriously, tried really hard to move away or around but he kept moving too thanks to the roll we were in, but the ocean helped in the end. Thanks for your patience whoever you were. A few moments later I was sandwiched between 2 swimmers who seemed to have rolled in from both sides. Then they rolled away. Such was the nature of the ocean this day.

    Almost missed that final can - the one before it that I could see in the near distance looked like the lead to the beach (it seemed out of line with the others but it was probably just the angle and the movement of the ocean) and then I caught sight of the last can a little further on in the distance whilst on the top of the swell - lucky. I think therefore my line was straighter than it otherwise might have been!

    Then came the finish. Not pretty, one bigger wave churned me like butter - and not straight - and I then ended up too far south, which mean I had to run (least favourite bit) up the beach, but I did it and I'd made it and I'd earned my reward. Time for coffee!

  3. Fantastic swim and fabulous organisation.
    I particularly like the way they looked after our gear at the other end. Well done. Top score.
    As for the start - I was a pink cap lady. I took my chances and went for the northern rip. It was about me and 4 others.
    We zipped straight out with very few waves to duck and met the front of the main pack at the first buoy (even though we had to perhaps swim an extra 50m back to it). It was a good decision -thanks to the mug standing beside me at the start who encouraged the this tactic.
    Thanks to all - loved the chop and interesting swim.

  4. As this was the first time I've done Portsea, I don't know what the old course was like, but with the time I did the 1,500 in I think with a bit more training I can get a ticket to the London Olympics. Before the race a friendly lifesaver had mentioned if I went out deep I'd get the faster current, there where lots of his mates out there making sure I didn't go to far into the shipping lanes but I did 1,500m in 17 minutes, watch out Grant Hackett. Unfortunately someone had finished the fruit by the time I finished a fun race.

  5. I really enjoyed the Mona Vale swim, but got smashed by the waves at the start! I think my lack of ocean-swimming pedigree hurt - I found this tougher than the Big Swim, even though it was shorter. That said, I enjoyed the challenge!

  6. I've just finished reading Jen's account of the Mona Vale swim and its scary how similarly her recollections of the swim compare with mine. However, unlike Jen I am prone to seasickness and at one stage I did think I felt the onset of nausea but I pushed on and it didn't come back so I was pleased. It certainly was a bumpy old ride up the coast to Mona Vale but isn't that part of the reason why we love Ocean Swimming. Its all part of the challenge and the thing that makes it so much more satisfying than pool swimming.

    I was pretty pleased with my time considering the conditions but just once I'd like to finish with a better time than my pesky younger brother. He always manages to find an extra couple of minutes and is always there grinning at the finish polishing off a piece of fruit when I stagger across the line.


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