Crews take on best from Queensland
By JAMIE BROWN
NORTH Coast surf boat crews wet their oars with the best of Queensland's clubs during the second round of the highly acclaimed Ocean Assault last Saturday on the Sunshine Coast.
Cudgen and Brunswick finished fourth and fifth in the tough reserve grade final, in which five boats finished at the beach less than one metre apart. Thirty-five crews contested that event.
Byron's reserve grade crew finished in the semi-finals, still a fair effort, and its under-23 women's crew finished fourth in their final behind Yamba, which came third.
Ballina and Evans Head failed to show due to work commitments.
Conditions at Marcoola Beach, just south of Coolum, were flat and nearly windless, making for tough aerobic racing.
But Cudgen sweep Buckman said there were enough small waves that experienced crews milked some momentum on the way back to the beach from the buoy turn.
Buckman said the event was a 'test of endurance and skill' and he was pleased that Stewart White's Brunswick crew appeared to have 'hardened up' after spending the night out under the stars, when their expected cabin accommodation pulled up short on bed space.
Cudgen's crew of bowman Jim Blakeney, second bow Doug Fewtrell, second stroke Rob Blyth and stroke Peter Quinlan have excelled well this year, with a second in the masters division at the Coffs Craft Carnival and a second at Cudgen's home carnival against an in-form Coolangatta.
The same crew raced against rowers many years their junior at Marcoola last weekend.
Buckman says his engine room Fewtrell and Blyth are both man giants who learned the art of harden up while playing rugby with the first-grade Warringah Rats in a past life.
"We're training twice a week and we're rowing smart," Buckman said of his crew.