Big day out at the beach
By RACHEL AFFLICK
BY THE time South Ballina surfer Rod Gray fought his way back to shore he could not%paddle any more and could barely lift his arms.
Surfers flocked to local beaches yesterday to experience 'the surf of the year'. An old cyclone off the coast was creating waves of up to three metres, but it also created dangerous conditions.
Rod spent three nearly hours surfing the 'big and clean' waves of Byron Bay's Clarks Beach, and was exhausted by the time he stepped out of the water.
"Every wave I got was good," he said. "The problem is the shore break's pretty rubbishy so getting out of the water is quite dangerous."
And the surfers weren't the only ones revelling in the conditions. Sydney body boarder Jack Cody was in his element when he got into a barrel.
"If you get out the back it's pretty good, but I was getting hammered trying to get out there," Jack said.
Across the region excessively high tides yesterday covered entire beaches, causing significant erosion.
Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator Stephen Leahy said most beaches were closed and he recommended only experienced surfers enter the water.
He said even walking on the beach was risky.
"It's possible a surge of%water could pull people out%into the deep water," he said.
Mr Leahy wasn't sure if the rough surf was responsible for the capsizing of a dive boat at Julian Rocks about 1.30pm on Monday.
The NSW Maritime Authority is investigating the incident, in which more than 20%people were thrown into the water.
Lifeguards at The Pass treated several people for cuts and lacerations, and a woman was treated for a possible head injury and suspected broken leg. At least four people were admitted to hospital, but later released.