‘Anything can happen’ on ski

Nearing home: Nathan Vipond was ready for a big finish as he prepares to set off for Eden on Saturday.
Nearing home: Nathan Vipond was ready for a big finish as he prepares to set off for Eden on Saturday.

There were more than just the weighty surfboats navigating the swell-drenched terrain of the George Bass Surf Marathon this year.

Twenty-seven-year-old ski paddler Nathan Vipond finished Thursday’s 36 kilometre leg of the Men’s Open Ski marathon in 6th place, and said the tough race can easily break the spirit of competitors.

“It’s been very tough pushing into the winds,” the Maroochydore local said ahead of the shorter, 27 kilometre Day 5 leg from Tathra to Pambula.

After a freak thunderstorm in Bermagui that saw a number of crews suffering hypothermia and exhaustion, Vipond said the later legs were spectacularly calm. 

Cruising into Tathra and Pambula were a breeze, while entrants were also expecting a calm row into Eden’s Snug Cove on Saturday. 

He said competing as a ski rower was a very different experience, rowing out on the ocean alone. 

“It can really break you as a person, anything can happen,” the former Tathra and Pambula Nipper said.

“It’s a good challenge for most people, and it pushes you as far as you can go.”

Vipond finished sixth of the 11 surf ski entrants on Friday, finishing two up from his brother Craig, but Craig had flipped the result on earlier legs.

With the George Bass closing out at Snug Cove on Saturday, Paul Buttel was declared the overall men’s ski winner, while Pambula’s Jacqui Keogh was the sole woman competing in the division. 

Second place went to Jack Pattinson and third was presented to Nic Kirby in the world’s toughest marathon.