|Froth and bubble.|
And that was about it, really: the story of The Big Swim. It was a bit of a chunderous start at Palm Beach, heavier sets dropping onto a bank as the tide reached its nadir, then a glorious, rolling sea, smooth at times, sometimes glassy, occasionally bumpy, carpets of froth off the point, a head current rounding Little Head into the bay, rocking and rolling back into Whale Beach, then a chunderous finish through heavier sets dropping chunderously onto a shallow bank as you come in through a break that most haven't seen onto Whale Beach.
What more can one say: it was what an ocean swim is supposed to be about.
We've often admired the judgment of The Big Swim organisers, because they'll run their swim in conditions from which many other organisers recoil. But most people, those who think about it, head to Palm Beach knowing that conditions can be difficult, and that's what happens when you swim in the ocean. The Big Swim organisers are themselves swimmers and have been doing this swim, themselves, since its inauguration in 1974. They know the sea and the breaks here reasonably well.
Mind you, the organisers can't claim credit for a sea that was fresh, invigorating, sometimes glassy smooth, rolling, bluey-free (we heard reports later of masses of blueys on the Eastern Suburbs beaches), and a swell that was sometimes dangerous, but always interesting.
|Looking down on the great washed.|
But, hey! We survived. You have to stay relaxed in these situations. And you must never, ever -- and this is a message to all those CanTooers who probably completed their toughest ocean challenge at The Big Swim -- you must never turn your back on the surf without knowing exactly what is coming. When you're approaching the break from sea, and when you're coming in through it, you must keep turning around and watching. You must always know what's there behind you.
We proffer this gratuitous advice because we saw more than a few CanTooers -- we can identify them from their cossies, of course -- grateful to be almost finished, simply heading in through the break oblivious to what was coming behind. Disinterested, even. Focussed only on getting to the beach. Most of them time, you can get away with it. But Whale Beach will keep you honest on a day like this.
|Isn't it terrific to see all these older gents out and getting stuck into it! Some of them try so hard, although their faculties aren't what they used to be.|
(We declare an interest: knowing that individual surf clubs can't afford to buy a full set of booees for one day per year, we have a full set (11) of big, bright marker booees (up to 2m high and 1.5m thick) which we rent out to interested organisers. Whale Beach have used our booees sometimes, but generally they use the yacht club's booees. Ours are yellow and fluoro orange, which, in our experience, are the only two colours that can be seen reliably. And they're cylindrical, which means the bit you need to see, if you're a swimmer, the bit at the top, can be seen clearly. Other clubs use pink booees, conical booees, purple booees, blue booees, all of which are shite for our purposes, conical booees, especially. You can always tell a swim whose course has been set by someone who is not a swimmer, when they use conical booees. The only fat bit with conical booees is at the bottom, and swimmers can't see the bit at the bottom. We'd have thought insurers, at least, would have a word to organisers about this.
Our booees are available to the Pittwater clubs, but if they don't wish to use them, band together and buy a set that can be seen by swimmers. And memo to organisers: just because you can see them from the beach, or a boat, or from a board, doesn't mean you can see them when you're in the water as a swimmer. This is a matter of safety; it's more important than saving a few bucks.
|The product of a chunderous break: we spot some very, very good gogs here in the arms of the lost property chaps at Whale Beach, including a pair of near-new Fully Sicks and several pairs of the world's best all 'round goggle, the Selene.|
Now, have your say... click the comments button and vent your spleen...