Aussie Bum finals face rough seas
THE most challenging surf boat conditions seen in local competition for years tested a range of dedicated crews at Tugun on the weekend.
In the Saturday rounds, the finals in this year’s Aussie Bum series, the reserves, masters and Under-19s battled a powerful ocean and a shallow inner bank that claimed more than a few boats.
Casino resident and sweep for the Evans Head-Casino Surf Life Saving Club, Peter Hickey, hung on for dear life during one spectacular wipe-out that tested the mettle of reserve crew John Lisetto of Rock Valley, Stuart Thomson of Lismore, Brett Farmer of Casino and Simon Hyder of Evans Head.
A tropical storm north of New Zealand earlier in the week pushed an easterly swell to 3m which combined with a subsiding south-easterly swell of more than 1.5 metres.
The races proved a good warm-up for crews preparing to contest Queensland State and national titles at Kurrawa Beach, located at the northern end of the Gold Coast.
“It was a good day; a good warm-up,” Hickey said.
“It got our brains switched on to big surf. But I’ve never seen a shore break quite like that one on Saturday.
“I thought we had more time than we did. We flipped pretty quick.”
Evans Head-Casino masters crew won their division while two reserve crews were knocked out by towering waves during their quarter-finals.
Byron Bay sweep Neil Cameron delivered his crew of Dan Andrews, Shannon Eberhard, Michael Stevens and Nick Hornery to the semi-finals before suffering a similar fate.
Andrews, a bowman, punched a hole through the foredeck of the boat with his buttocks during competition, earning a scratch but nothing serious.
“It wasn’t bad. It was a good warm-up for the Aussies,” Cameron said.
“But I don’t think Kurrawa will be as subtle as Tugun was on Saturday.”
For the past three years the Australian titles have been held on Perth’s northern beaches, where conditions are generally flatter.