Crews left fuming
By JAMIE BROWN
THE last-minute cancellation of a surf boat carnival at Broadbeach last Saturday has highlighted poor organisation in this year’s Queensland Cup series.
For Far North Coast boat rowers, the competition is keenly anticipated as a way to build ‘match fitness’ before the State and national titles.
The only alternative locally is the North Coast Boat Series, highly regarded as a challenging competition but with events often too far away for most clubs.
On Saturday, after everyone had set up their day tents and boats, officials canned Saturday’s carnival leaving crews, including those from Brunswick Heads, Byron, Ballina and Evans Head, high and dry.
The reason was obvious: Massive sets on the outer bar would have caused carnage to gear and bodies.
Few disagreed with the verdict, but many are asking the question as to why was the call made so late? And where was the alternative venue promised last time the Queensland Cup was cancelled at Broadbeach in early January?
Turns out the paid IRB team, hired to support the event for its original January carnival date, had been contracted to the Iron Man competition at next door Kurrawa.
Only Broadbeach club IRB drivers were available on the day, so it was ‘unfeasible’ to move the carnival to the much more protected North Kirra – as happened the weekend before.
For Byron Bay sweep Neil Cameron, the disappointing cancellation has only added to a string of frustrations associated with the Perry Surfboats/AussieBum Queensland Cup this year.
For the first time, this year’s cup series have been condensed into a one-day event, whereas previously reserves, masters and junior crews competed on the Saturday and open men and women on the Sunday.
Under the new format reserves, masters and juniors no longer get three guaranteed races, but can be eliminated after just two rounds.
Travelling to the Sunshine Coast, setting up the tent and rowing just two races leaves a lot to be desired for amateur crews that depend on the cup series to build match experience.
“It can be a long day on the beach,” says Cameron. “We prefer more racing.”
Brunswick sweep Stuart White said he was concerned his crews were not getting ‘enough carnival time’ this season.
“Compared to last year when we contested the North Coast Boat Series, we have nowhere near the same level of match fitness in the lead up to the season’s final competitions,” he said.
“And costs are up too. We’ve only contested three Queensland Cup carnivals this year at a cost of $660 for the series, compared to $120 for the North Coast Boat Series.”
While all crews agree that cup officials deserve recognition for their difficult volunteer work, there needs to be some changes in the format if interest in this great sport is to grow.