Speedos and the Vatican don?t mix
By STEVE SPINKS
BALLINA Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Club rowers went to heaven, but could now be headed in the opposite direction, following their recent exploits in Italy.
The 'Tiresome Fivesome' ? Peter Rodziewicz, Kris Beavis, Steve Sparks, Dick Grant and Aaron Everett ? headed to Viareggio, Italy, late last month to compete in the World Masters Surf Lifesaving Championships.
The team won a silver medal in the 160s (rowers' combined ages add up more than 160) behind Sydney club Bondi, while fellow Far North Coast club Byron Bay picked up third.
After this magnificent performance the team was on cloud nine.
The intrepid quintet decided on some sightseeing in Rome following their athletic exploits.
Unfortunately, they found themselves in a tricky situation in the Vatican City.
While the facts remain unclear, Ballina club spokesman Paul Kelly shed some light on the trouble.
"I can't imagine what they did and the boys aren't too forthcoming," he said.
"But apparently Aussie Speedos and tank-tops don't go over too well in the Holy City."
Despite this obvious low point during their trip, a silver medal at the World Championships is something to remember.
According to Kelly, a five-hour train trip from Rome to Viareggio left the crew feeling a little low and may have impeded their performance.
"They were tired and emotional when they arrived," Kelly said. "And taxis were reluctant to pick them up."
However, they put this hardship behind them and competed in the Italy Plate series the day before the championship race, winning one round and finishing second in another.
However, it was the world title the Ballina boys were after.
Turning the cans third, the crew swept forward on the back of a brilliant turn.
They started gaining on Bondi and caught the same wave.
However, Bondi managed to stay on a bubble close to the line and that was enough to earn them victory.
Perhaps the surf god 'Huey' saw what was going to happen when the Ballina boys reached the Vatican City and decided to intervene.