The world’s longest, toughest open sea surfboat marathon is coming down the coast in a dramatic seven-day race to Eden.
This Saturday, 24 boat crews and around 17 surf ski paddlers, a total of about 200 competitors from Victoria, NSW, ACT and Queensland will complete the gruelling 190 kilometre race across open ocean, that started in Batemans Bay last weekend.
During each leg, the surf boat rowers participate in water changes, where two or four rowers dive out of the boat while it is still moving, and the same number heave themselves back into the boat from the water and continue rowing. This allows some to rest while their teammates take their place.
The surf ski paddlers, however, go it alone every leg for the whole seven days.
All competitors are members of Surf Life Saving Australia, and regularly patrol their home beaches.
Weather conditions on Saturday will dictate exactly where the course will finish but at this stage, the plan is to cross the finish line at picturesque Aslings Beach, offering onlookers the perfect vantage point to cheer their teams home.
The Dial Before You Dig Surfboat Marathon commenced in 1975 and surf ski’s were added to the event in the 1990’s.
The race was the brainchild of Bega Newspaper editor Curly Annabel as he came up with the concept of tracing part of the journey of early explorer Surgeon Commander George Bass in 1797.
Surgeon Commander Bass with a crew of six naval oarsman, rowed a longboat not unlike surf’s original double-ended clinker from Port Phillip down the NSW coast and around the southern end on Victoria mapping the coastline as they went.
Annabel was at first thought mad and received no support, until then NSW State Secretary and Cronulla boat sweep, the legendary Nick Dixon, took up the cause and the rest, as they say, is history.
Dixon became the driving force behind recruiting initial entries and also trained and swept the Cronulla crew to a resounding victory. The level of professionalism shown by Cronulla in 1975 was the benchmark for all future races.
Head to Aslings Beach this Saturday for all the action from 9.30am.
Free parking is available at Eden sportsground.