The Evans Head-Casino 180 years boat crew takes on the turbulent Kurrawa surf.
The Evans Head-Casino 180 years boat crew takes on the turbulent Kurrawa surf.

Gold lining to Kurrawa cloud

KURRAWA Beach provided plenty of action in the surf boat arena during the recent Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, with Evans Head taking out gold in the 180 combined years event.

In the days before the tragic death of young Queenscliff ironman Saxon Bird, the boating arena at Kurrawa hosted a range of events including all masters races, and some of the under 23s and reserve grade.

Conditions were typical Kurrawa times five, with wind chop and angry seas on top of a chaotic swell that graduated from south-east to north-east over several days.

It wasn’t cyclonic, but it was certainly driven in part by Category 5 Uluei.

While many top crews found their boats back on their trailers well before the finals, it was the crews – and in particular the sweeps – that poked their bows into the surf with care and skill that survived.

The culling of crews was brutal from the start, with six starting and three taken through to the next round. So there was some temptation to push hard from the beginning.

But, as so many good crews discovered, those that didn’t rush tended to make the cut.

Kurrawa is a tough beach – much like South Ballina, being fully exposed with no offshore reefs to slow things down.

There is an inshore sand bar, which whipped up a guillotine-like dumping wave and an offshore bar that created mayhem for boats as they approached the turning cans.

The Evans Head-Casino 160 years crew were certain for silverware in their final, but met one of these waves just five strokes out from the turn, 400m offshore.

Sweep Peter Hickey described the wave as lipping well above the boat with two metres of foam towering above its face.

Amazingly the crew powered through and drove the 8.5 metre boat on top of the froth, but momentum took control and backwards they drove, capsizing and throwing the crew every which way before the boat righted and surfed down the wave, ending up 300m to the north.

Race finished

Byron Bay and Cudgen challenged the elements as did Yamba, but found the conditions just as challenging.

Reserve grade crews had a solid go on the first day but tragic circumstances intervened and all water events were called off.

A-grade women raced for one day at North Kirra, where a semi-predictable outer bank kept the race contestable.

For the A-grade men there was no outlet except the pub, and the Broadwater Tavern certainly copped some attention.

WEATHER: Thunderstorms, strong winds this afternoon

WEATHER: Thunderstorms, strong winds this afternoon

Rain and thunderstorms over the next few days.

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