|The Passing Parade. ('grarph by Glistening Dave)|
The bloke stopped at the crossing that links the beach to the stairs heading up to Military Road while beautiful people crossed the road to and from the beach. Around him swirled the colour and the pageantry of Bondi on a summer Sundee: the pretty, delicate, sun-tanned girls in their evocative finery, less of it all the time; the aging butch body builders finding difficulty walking, their thighs rubbing uncomfortably together, setting out for a promenade along the beachfront, both shirtless, one of them shoeless, soon not chappless, either; the stylish yummy mummies and daddies with exhausted toddlers schlepping up the hill after a morning building sandcastles; the C-listers taking a break from the paps, or perhaps hoping the paps might still be looking; the tv stars and the fashionable chefs and vets; the leathery surf clubbers still doing it after a lifetime in the sun, filling in time between bouts of melanoma.
Farncy Fish and its environs were full of colourful people yesterday. Particularly notable was the surge in celebrity chefs taking up ocean swimming. We were there with our cobber, celebrity chef David Tsirekas, of the Greek persuasion, on his weekly morning off from Xanthi in the city. A few tables in was apparently recent convert to ocean swimming, Miguel Maestre, of the Spanish persuasion, whom we see on the telly on Fridee nights on the living room couch sitting next to celebrity vet Dr Chris, a regular ocean swimmer. And there he was, on Sundee at Farncy Fish, sitting next to celebrity vet Dr Chris.
|Once more unto the sea, dear chaps. ('grarph by Glistening Dave)|
North Bondi is a good swim venue for a range of reasons. The surf club there has been running ocean swims for decades, and they know how to do it. The template doesn't need to change that much; it's honed from years and years of swims, changing subtley as experience mellows. For example the water safety lads and lasses are much softer now than they were at North Bondi a few years back, when it was their way or no way.
The venue lends itself to mass swims. With Bondi facing a little east of south, North Bondi is protected in many conditions, such as yesterday's when the east-sou'-easterly swell ran into South Bondi, leaving North Bondi as the proverbial Lake Bondi. The Backpacker Express in the corner is an invaluable tool, matching Avalon for glory in swim starts, if the organisers allow its use. The start at North Bondi yesterday was a little farther sarth (west) of the runout than it usually is, making the run north (east) into the corner a little too far to make it worthwhile. The Almighty was watching over us, however, as the easterly sweep on the nadiring tide picked us up on entering the water and took us east, anyway, so the effect was pretty much the same. We can't recall a sweep that strong that far along the beach at North Bondi, but then we don't swim at Bondi more than a couple of times per season.
The water was coolish, perhaps 19C, and a bit lower than reports from the day before. Nothing like, what, four years back, when the day was similar, cloudless, warmer, hotter, and the mug punters dashed gaily into the surf only to find it had dropped from early 20sC the day before to 16C overnight. They danced on the water. No warning from Him upstairs about that one. We don't mind a bit of cool. As we've said before, we have our wettie built in. That gives us a luxury that some other ocean swimmers don't enjoy (although most ocean swimmers swim with built-in wettie). We find the cool invigorating, refreshing. You last longer in cooler water.
The water appeared to clarify between swims, too. It was noice during the 1km, albeit not the clearest we've seen it at Bondi. But by the time the 2km started at 10:30, the tide continuing to suck out over the shallowing bank, it was clearer.
|('grarph by Glistening Dave)|
The real joy, though, was the sea as you neared South Bondi, which really is West Bondi, or Sou'-Sou'-West-by-South Bondi (we're drawing this from our days in the Sea Scouts in the late '60s. 1st Swansea). We expected this, given the swell direction: east-sou'-east. We'd been hoping to find it wrapping noicely around Ben Buckler, leaving the corner calm with the run out into an increasingly undulating break over the rounded boulders that line the bottom off Bondi's northerly (easterly) point. But it wasn't. The direction and the size weren't quite right for that.
But as we approached the sarth (west), below the 'Bergs, we found the swell picking up, making this swim an absolute glory. Sitting on the verandah of Farncy Fish afterwards, we pointed out to a new American cobber -- in the knowledgeable way in which we all point out to recent arrivistes who, we assume, just don't know, only to find that he used to live in Sydney and probably knew more about Bondee than we did -- how the swell increased as your gaze drifted from north (east) to sarth (west) and the 'Bergs. Still gentle and benign in the northern (eastern) corner, it was pumping in the sarth (west).
|You'd think Lochie Hinds had never done an ocean swim in his life, judging by his colour. (Pic by Mark Ellis)|
|Bondi life. ('grarph not by Glistening Dave)|
Even better, it didn't stop when we rounded the far-out booee off the 'Bergs to head in towards the beach. More swell, bouncier now because of the backwash from the rocks along Mackenzies Point, but thrusting and undulating and rolling nonetheless.
Gee whiz, it was nice.
|Rozanne Green's 2km schlepp around Bondi.|
It was a noice day at Bondi.
North Bondi Classic 9/2/14 - Images by Paul Ellercamp