Eden conquers George Bass

The George Bass Surfboat Marathon is being invaded by Edenites. 

A very tired real estate agent Grant Holman was one of three Eden men to compete aboard the Pambula Surf Life Saving Club boat and said Eden was “gradually taking over”.

Holman, Mark Spink and Leigh Hennessey all played their part during this year’s race in spite of a short training stint. 

“We had 10 weeks preparation which wasn’t nearly enough,” Holman said. 

The delay came when the club was unsure about entering a team Holman said. 

“It was a very different campaign for us this year at Pambula Beach.

“We still hadn’t decided if we were going to do it.

“As it was we used this year’s George Bass to kick us back off rowing, it was a kickboard to get going again.”

The exhausting 190km race, which is described as the world’s longest and hardest takes it’s toll and Holman was feeling it on Monday morning, but remained upbeat. 

“You actually do more damage on the Saturday night after the race,” he joked. 

It was a depleted Pambula team that took to the water this year. 

“We were missing a rower, but Kym O’Halloran stepped up and really helped us out,” Holman said. 

O’Halloran rowed with the men’s team to help out and then jumped in with the women’s team for the final two days. 

Being comfortable with your team was key for a number of competitors as they all faced some of most adverse conditions in the race’s history.  

“The first day was very tough, we got turned around which is an unusual situation, there was a really tough southerly so they turned us around about 7km into the race.

“The first day rowing was probably not the best way to start,” he said. 

Holman said it was a privilege to compete with friendly people and the race develops a strong camaraderie. 

“I think for us really, and for most teams, it’s about the group that you’re with for the week.

“The rowing is great, but for us it’s hanging with a great group of people.

“You are camping with your team and sharing stories for the seven days.”

Holman said the nature of the race developed an atmosphere almost like a brotherhood and it was actually felt bad to finish. 

“You actually feel a bit down at the end,” he said.

“They call it the George Bass blues, you’re used to having your team around you

“So you’re a bit low on Monday morning.”

Holman said no competitor would be able to take on the challenge without the support of people around them.

“Everyone who does this is very appreciative of family and friends for their support.

“Particularly our families who are there at the end of the day.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” he said.  

The general support from the community too, has been  overwhelming and really uplifting for crew members after finishing the marathon. 

“People stop you in the street and say well done or ask about the conditions.”

Meanwhile a number of shark sightings on the final days of the event caused quite a stir, but it’s all part and parcel of the race said Pambula competitor Jacqui Keogh. 

“It's really common, you just see them out there and the support boats spot them all the time," Keogh said.

"It is a little bit concerning when you have to swap crew out there, but there are so many other things on your mind that you just don't really think about it," she said.

Overall surf ski winner Michael Locke was concerned about shapes in the water he saw during the penultimate stage. 

“"I really thought it was a shark, but it turned out it was just three big seals chasing us," Locke said.

On the same day the third-placed ski paddler Paul Buttelle was sure he saw a shark. 

When asked if he could describe the size of it, he said it was "big enough to paddle quickly in the other direction".

"I really only saw the fin on it and that was enough for me to get away from it," Buttelle said.

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