Which for the first time, is the first leg of the os.com Fine Ocean Swimmers series. But it seems most people have missed the opportunity to grab early points. Except Killer, who chanced his arm on a limited preparation to pull off third place in the over 50s narrowly in front of fellow Tweed River swim organiser Marc Vining (without putting the shoulder in). A few years ago, Killer announced proudly he felt he had arrived as an ocean swimmer because someone had dragged off him. Now he has the final brick in the wall ‑ a podium finish. I imagine his hard-won drink bottle prize is going straight to the pool room.
And it was a tough day despite a relatively short course by ocean swimming standards. A howling north westerly in the morning hard turned into a tough north easterly by the 1pm start time for the swims, coinciding with the bottom of the tide. The course is like a giant surf race: out, along and back to shore. In these conditions, the toughest part of the race is the leg out to sea into the teeth of the wind-blown swell. The key is to be very aggressive and lift your head just about every stroke so that you can see the oncoming swell and adjust your stroke – shorter to get under a chop or longer when you can. You can afford to push hard on the first leg because when you turn at the first can and head downwind, it’s all a little easier.
The final homeward leg is also with the conditions but it gets tough. You increase your stroke rate to maximise the lift from each swell. Then you get dropped off the back and have to work hard to pick up speed again. It’s a relief to finally hit the wave area and properly catch a wave.
In terms of overall numbers, even with all the craft competitors, it’s not a very big day despite boards and skis being up for grabs in the random draws as well as the Fine Ocean Swimmers series underwater camera. But be warned. Parking is a nightmare. Northcliffe has only a very small parking area at the clubhouse which is reserved for gear trailers. The rest have to make do with the narrow streets and a fairly long walk. In the past, I’ve ridden my push bike over from Broadbeach but if you have to bring a car, I don’t really have a solution.
Northcliffe run a barbecue all day and there’s plenty of shade tents. But upstairs in the club is pretty swish with recent renovations.