|A Scottish lad with an Irish legend at Stanwell Park|
I remember last year at Stanwell Park when a mother of a wave attempted to brutalise me. After it had done its best, I managed to suck in two seconds of sky before another mother of a mother punched me in the head and took me down for round 2. I thought I was a goner. I think there might have been a round 3 but I've blocked it from memory.
So, dear readers, it was with some trepidation that I signed up for this year's CoalCliff to Stanwell Park massacre.
I was lucky enough to con Mr Very Big into driving me down the coast and through The Shire to this lovely part of the world. He brought along his beautiful wife, who sat like a bloody saint in the front seat while I squawked over her shoulder for a good hour until we arrived at the beach via a picturesque winding road.
The surf surged in to the shore at a manageable height and with at least 10 seconds between each wave. Time to breathe.
It was such a beautiful day, and the heat of the sun warmed our backs as we waited for the shuttle bus to take us up and over the hill to CoalCliff.
CoalCliff has a pretty beach with brown granular sand. It's different from the city beaches, with their fine golden grains. The organisers warned us about avoiding the boulders in the shallows at the swim's start.
I guess Mr VB and I were a little nervous considering yet another poor bloke was killed by a shark off the Western Australian coast 130 km south of Perth yesterday. His is the fourth shark-related death in WA waters in seven months.
Here's a link to a story: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/west-australian-shark-victims-brother-saw-dark-shape/story-e6frg6nf-1226315592658
Already the shark haters are screaming out for great white cull. What a bunch of moronic dickheads.
"Let's teach that f****** shark a lesson."
"Kill his f****** mother, brother, kids, wife... that'll show him."
The shark plane, which resembles Snoopy's Red Baron, flew over just before the swim started. I guess the pilot gave the thumbs up, his red scarf streaming behind him in the wind, because minutes later the first wave was in and racing.
I was in the last wave (blah).
The course is supposedly 2.3 km long (it felt longer) and follows the cliffside - hence the name CoalCliff - in a northerly direction before heading back in to the surf club at Stanwell Park.
I started out feeling pretty damn good (might have had something to do with the coffee I'd gulped down earlier).Then Mr VB arrived and we went stroke for stroke for around a kilometre before he peeled off and sprinted away. I was breathing left and had a chance to admire the scenery - cliff mostly - before I started to peter out and asked myself: "Are we there yet?"
I think Mr VB led me in the wrong direction because I followed him for a while and noticed we were both off course. I'd missed sighting the second-last buoy and had to swim back out to sea to get around it.
Coming in was a joy compared to last year's swim, except I got stuck in a rip that had me going nowhere. And when I tried to get out I was pulled down the beach and away from the finish.
I muttered more than a few choice words when I finally made it on to firm sand and then had to run back up the beach to get across the line.
It was tiring but worth it. Afterwards another swimmer started chatting to me about her awful experience last year - very similar to mine. It was like we were old war veterans sharing stories of struggle, hardship, survival and courage.
A rare breed indeed.
Next week it's back to Bondi.