Monday, 10 January 2011

Gerringong Surf Club's Captain Christie Ocean Classic Surf Swim plus Save the NSW south coast from rampant overdevelopment

Are we as mad as cut snakes or what? On Sunday morning The Hiss and I jumped in our very old car and followed Davo in his snazzy car from Mollymook to Gerringong for the Captain Christie Ocean Classic Surf Swim. We left at 7am to give ourselves enough time to beat the registration cut-off of 9am.

During the drive north the weather went from bad (drizzle) to worse (torrential rain). I spent most of the trip with white-knuckled fingers gripped around the steering wheel. Driving rain lashed the windscreen and created mini-lakes on the road that had the potential to send the car into an aquaplane.

Most of the way, I kept the peddle to the metal as Davo stuck steadfastly to the 100 kilometre per hour freeway speed limit. It was hairy and I was buggered by the time we turned off at Gerringong. Also, having barely any fuel left in the tank didn't help my stress levels.

Those levels quadrupled after we trudged onto the balcony of the Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club to view the four to five-foot waves plunging onto Werri Beach, opposite.

The 1.8 km swim traditionally starts at the Gerringong Harbour boat ramp, runs parallel to the coastal rock platform and finishes at Werri Beach.

But yesterday's surf was so powerful that surfers, rather than paddle out through the steaming foam, chose to walk out almost to the edge of the rock platform where they hurled themselves and their boards into the surf. It's a game of skill and chance to get the timing right.  

I was relieved when the organisers decided to move the swim about 2 km south to the calmer waters of Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa. They did this after several of their experienced ocean swimming members had struggled in the tough conditions at Werri Beach earlier that morning.

I was happy and didn't see anyone else complaining, though I'm sure some of the die-hards were disappointed.

At Seven Mile Beach, the course was an anti-clockwise rectangle marked by two cans - one orange and the other yellow.

As there were only around 200 swimmers, we all started together. We had to run quite a distance (dunno, maybe 100 metres) across a shallow sandbar before we could dive in and swim. I can't run (long boring story) so doddled in like an old woman as my peers sprinted ahead.

The rest of the swim was brilliant, though it seemed to take forever to reach that first can, which was supposed to be 600 metres out from the shore.

On the way in, Davo caught a wave just ahead of me. I was relieved I wasn't the last swimmer home!

The swim was well worth the effort it took to get there, though I think the course was shorter than the advertised 1.8 km. Possibly 1.5km? 

*On another topic: Gerringong/Gerroa is a beautiful part of the world that is threatened with overdevelopment as the old dairy farms are sold off and subdivided into (often) butt-ugly housing developments. It's a sad sight. The countryside is fast disappearing with towns like Gerringong becoming suburbs of the big towns of Kiama and Nowra.

Kiama Municipal Council wants to save some of the rural land in Gerringong that the State Government plans to develop into 528 building blocks. If you know and love this area and are keen to stop this (the cynic in me says it's already too late, but I don't think it hurts to try) contact Kiama Municipal Council and ask for a copy of the submission form, which must be completed and returned to the council before January 31, 2011.

Everyone in Australia wants to live on the coast and nobody seems to care that this is destroying its beauty. We all want a piece of it.

Photos: pic at top is the surf at Werri Beach in Gerringong; pic in middle is prior to swim at Seven Mile Beach; pic 3 is after the swim. It all looks so miserable!


Anita Joy said...

That's how it has looked up here for weeks now. Move to Queensland and you wouldn't have any white-knuckled drives - just walk out the door, lol.

Shayne said...

Hi Anita,
Sorry about that. I really shouldn't whinge, but it's habitual.