Superman’s life is the best result in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon

Wayne "Superman" Kent whose life was saving on day 1 of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Ian Campbell
Wayne “Superman” Kent whose life was saved on day 1 of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Ian Campbell

Perhaps the best result in the 2018 George Bass Surfboat Marathon is that Wayne “Superman” Kent is still alive.

The 66-year-old member of Pambula Surf Life Saving Club started the epic race in Batemans Bay on New Year’s Eve, 31km’s later as “Super” was helping pull his boat ashore at South Head, Moruya his heart stopped.

“The bloke was dead when he was brought up the sand,” Dr Steve Craig says.

“Through the excellent work and training of the surf life-saving members, they got the defibrillator on him very quickly, we were able to get his heart going again and he left the beach alive.”

Dr Craig who works out of Moruya and Nowra Hospitals was rowing as part of the Open Men’s crew from Mollymook Surf Life Saving Club and was quick to come to the aid of Super, as was Victorian firefighter Cassie Lee Field rowing for the Torquay Masters Women, nurse Lea Henry from the Grange crew out of South Australia, and Pambula clubies Andrew Holt and Matthew Harvey.

Lifesavers on patrol with Moruya Surf Club also played a critical role in beating away death until paramedics from NSW Ambulance arrived.

Super was taken to Moruya Hospital and shortly after flown to Canberra where a pacemaker was inserted in his chest.

Five days later Wayne Kent, who takes his nickname from Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent, was there at Pambula Beach to cheer his clubmates across the line on day six of the race. At the awards presentation that afternoon the crowd erupted as Super spoke of his experience.

“If it had happened out at sea god knows what would have happened, I would have hated to put the crew through that, they are a good bunch of blokes,” Super says.

“I am so lucky it happened on the beach because I had 240 odd rowers around me – all life-savers and if anyone was going to kick the bucket on that day they would have had to have been really gone.”

Scare tissue from previous heart bypass surgery is thought to have been a factor in Super’s heart failure.

Twenty-five surfboats and thirteen surf skis started the 7 day, 190km George Bass, the finish line at Snug Cove in Eden seemed a long way away when Super hit the sand at the end of day one, his brush with death pointing to the challenges ahead for the bodies taking part.

“My intention was just to drive the [boat] trailer around for them, but the boys couldn’t find a sweep, so the next thing you know I was in for another year,” Super laughs.

The 66-year-old can’t remember when he first took part in the Bass, sometime in the 1990’s is his best guess, over the years he has been a rower, sweep, and coach.

Dr Steve Craig, who helped save "Super's" life at Moruya Beach. Steve was also rowing for Mollymook in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Les Herstik
Dr Steve Craig, who helped save “Super’s” life at Moruya Beach. Steve was also rowing for Mollymook in the George Bass Surfboat Marathon. Photo: Les Herstik

Dr Steve Craig says he’ll be writing a letter of commendation to the volunteer surf life-savers from Moruya that stepped up when Super went down.

“They just clicked over into their training and by doing so within two or three minutes we had his heart started again,” Dr Craig says.

Life and death aside, in the overall point score presented after Saturday’s final leg from Pambula to Eden, the winning crews were the Bulli Open Men, North Cronulla Open Women, North Cronulla Masters Men, Pambula Masters Women, Tathra Vet Men, and Avalon Beach Vet Women.

In the ski paddle race, Wollongong’s Paul Buttle was the winner, while Narooma’s Nick Ziviani and Joe Halsey took out the double ski division.

Still keen to be apart of the George Bass community, Super says he’d like to support Pambula’s place in the race but only as part of the support crew on land.

“I am married to a great woman who has turned into a rottweiler, she is making sure I am following all the doctor’s instructions and I don’t think she’ll let me compete again,” Super says.

“I was gone, I am one of the luckiest men in Australia.”

The 21st George Bass Surfboat Marathon runs December 29, 2019, to January 4, 2020.

*About Regional content is supported by members, thank you to Tathra Beach House Apartments, Sprout Eden – cafe and local produce, Robyn Broughton, Kylie Dummer, Kaye Johnston, Geoffrey Grigg, Robyn Kesby, Amanda Fowler, and Kym Mogridge.

*Video above created by Dr Matthew Nott

*Ian Campbell travelled as a guest of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon

George Bass Surfboat Marathon – bluebottle tangles on day two

Paul Jones leading the Bulli Open Mens home. Photo: Les Herstik.
Paul Jones leading the Bulli Open Men home. Photo: Les Herstik.

Day two of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon was a slog, with the events 25 entries having to punch through a stiff southerly breeze and swell to make it to Coila Beach at Tuross.

The 18km leg started with a tribute to a stalwart of the Moruya Surf Club and the Bass, Lesley Pheeney.

Lesley was the race secretary for many years and worked side by side with her late husband, Dave in the Far South Coast Surf Lifesaving Association. Lesley and Dave have been reunited at sea, with a salute from Bass crews who raised their oars into the sky for one minute silence.

Fresh from New Year Eve celebrations, competitors in the George Bass Surf Ski Marathon were the first to set off. Pambula’s Jacqui Keogh, the only woman in the ski race was forced to retire with a broken rudder in the testing conditions.

Around one and a half hours later the ski fleet was returning to shore. Narooma’s Nick Ziviani and Joe Halsey in their duel ski the first home followed by Brendan Cowled and Tony Ireland.

Day two, single ski results:

First – Paul Buttle (1:33:24)
Second – John Pattison
Third – Nick Kirby
Fourth – Stephen Bunney
Fifth – Simon Stenhouse
Sixth – Gavin Granger
Seventh – David Schofield
Eighth – Craig Vipond
Ninth – Nathan Vipond
Tenth –  Warwick Ward
Eleventh – Jacqui Keough (DNF)

Nathan Vipond headed for the beach. Photo: Les Herstik
Nathan Vipond headed for the beach. Photo: Les Herstik

A large, supportive crowd packed the walkway and headland overlooking Coila Beach to welcome the surfboats home, locals and holidaymakers impressed with the ticker of competitors who over the course of seven days will row to Eden, 188km away.

The Bulli Open Mens crew put in another dominant performance overtaking the entire fleet. The club is vying for its forth consecutive overall win.

Paul Jones is Bulli sweep and is competing in his eighth Bass, “It was a tough day, the wind got up earlier than expected, luckily it was a shorter day,” he says.

Bluebottles added to the challenge, with rowers getting tangled in the stingers during their changeovers at seas. Fresh rowers in some boats forging on with blue tentacles wrapped around arms, legs, and necks.

Those changeovers at sea are a critical part of the race, how and when they happen is up to each crew.

“We try not to lose boat speed,” Paul says.

“We get two guys to jump out while the two guys left in the boat keep rowing, the other guys need to get in as best they can, but we don’t want the boat stopping dead.”

Day two, Open Men results:

First – Bulli (2:00:55)
Second – Coogee
Third – Mollymook
Fourth – Long Reef
Fifth – Pambula

Day two, Open Women results:

First – North Cronulla (2:08:45)
Second – Broulee
Third – Moruya
Fourth – Broulee Canberra Capital

Day two, Masters Men results:

First – North Cronulla (2:02:11)
Second – Narooma
Third – Wollongong City
Fourth – Grange SA
Fifth – Tathra
Sixth – Wanda
Seventh – Noosa Qls
Eighth – Broulee Canberra Capitals
Ninth – Bulli
Tenth  – Pambula
Eleventh – Warriewood

Day two, Masters Women results:

First – Pambula (2:23:48)
Second – Torquay Vic
Third – Avalon Beach
Fourth – Darwin NT
Fifth – Broulee

The Darwin Womens Master crew, rowing in a boat borrowed from Bermagui SLSC. Photo: Les Herstik.
The Darwin Womens Masters crew, rowing in a boat borrowed from Bermagui SLSC. Photo: Les Herstik.

The end of the race was a stark contrast to the drama of yesterday.

Marathon organiser Andrew Edmunds says crews are relieved to hear the the 66-year-old male sweep from Pambula who had a heart attack on the finish line at Moruya is improving in hospital.

“He is currently awaiting surgery and we hope he’ll be out of hospital in a few days,” Andrew says.

“The situation highlighted how everyone participating in this event are surf lifesavers first and competitors second, with the Pambula crew, a Grange competitor, a rower from Mollymook and Moruya lifesavers all clicking into action as soon as the emergency situation arose.”

Most crews took the opportunity to rest one or two members today,  as they will most days now ahead of the finish in Eden on January 6.

Day 3 starts off Coila Beach, with the skis setting off at 8:30am and 9am, followed by the surfboats at five-minute intervals. The finish line is 22km away in front of Narooma Surf Club, the first competitors are expected to arrive one to two hours after the start.

You can stay in touch with the field via the George Bass Live Tracker.

For more photos head to the George Bass Facebook page.

*Ian Campbell is traveling as a guest of the George Bass Surfboat Marathon.

George Bass Surfboat Marathon – man in hospital after day one

The crew from Wanda Surf Club near Cronulla, finished first in the Masters Men. Photo: Les Herstik
The crew from Wanda Surf Club near Cronulla, finished second in the Masters Men. Photo: Les Herstik

The first day of the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon took a twist at the Moruya finish line, one that points to the challenges of the great race.

The 66-year-old sweep of the Pambula Men’s Masters crew had a heart attack and was revived on the beach.

“Volunteers on patrol with Mourya Surf Club responded quickly and a doctor rowing for Mollymook all stepped up to look after the man before paramedics arrived,” Andrew Edmunds, Race Director says.

“He has since been flown to hospital and all those involved have been involved in a debriefing session, our people are the most important thing about the Bass.”

Jacqui Keogh from Pambula SLSC, the only woman competing in the surf ski marathon. Photo: Les Herstik
Jacqui Keogh from Pambula SLSC, the only woman competing in the surf ski marathon. Photo: Les Herstik

The medical emergency came on the back of what had been a successful day on the water, crews tackling the 31 kilometres of coastline between the Batemans Bay Bridge and Mourya Beach at South Head.

“NSW Maritime and Water Police gave competitors a gold star for safety,” Andrew says.

“Yes this is a race and everyone is keen to win, but safety comes first.”

Tony Ireland is one of thirteen entries in the Surf Ski Marathon, Tony is paddling as one of two duel surf ski entries and was among the first to hit the Moruya sand with his mate Brendan Cowled.

“It was quite challenging, especially the last bit from Broulee to home, it felt like we were pushing against the current the whole way,” Tony says.

The southerly winds at the start weren’t a problem for Tony and Brendan, who stuck close to the coast and enjoyed some helpful currents in close.

Single ski results:

First – John Pattinson
Second – Paul Buttle
Third – Nick Kirby
Fourth – Simon Steinhouse
Fifth – Warrick Ward
Sixth – Stephen Bunney
Seventh – Gavin Granger
Eighth – Craig Vipond
Ninth – Dave Schofield
Tenth –  Nathan Vipond
Eleventh – Jacqui Keough *Only women, go Jacqui!

Double ski results:

First –  Nick Ziviani and Joe Hasley
Second –  Brendan Cowled and Tony Island.

Today's office… The start of the George Bass Marathon in Batemans Bay.

Posted by Rebecca Henshaw on Saturday, 30 December 2017

 

There were big smiles from family, friends, and supporters when the surfboats started to pull in two to three hours after they started on the Clyde River.

Michelle from the Broulee Bluebottles is competing in her seventh Bass and was beaming despite being greeted by her crew’s namesake at the finish line.

“The feeling after is great and why I keep doing it, about 20 minutes into this morning I didn’t think so, but now it’s great, I love it,” Michelle says.

Masters Women results:

First – Pambula
Second – Broulee Bluebottles
Third – Darwin NT
Fourth – Torquay Vic
Fifth – Avalon Beach

Open Women results:

First – North Cronulla
Second – Broulee
Third – Broulee/Canberra Capitals
Fourth – Moruya

Open Men results:

First – Bulli
Second – Long Reef
Third – Coogee
Fourth – Mollymook
Fifth – Pambula

Masters Men results:

First – North Cronulla
Second – Wanda
Third – Tathra
Fourth – Narooma
Fifth – Wollongong City
Sixth – Broulee Capitals
Seventh – Pambula
Eighth – Bulli
Ninth – Grange SA
Tenth  – Noosa Qld
Eleventh – Warriewood

Four in four out, a crew change for Tathra SLSC. Photo: Les Herstik
Four in four out, a crew change for Tathra SLSC. Photo: Les Herstik

Headed into New Year’s Eve all crews seemed keen for an early night at their Moruya High School campground, day two starts back at Moruya Beach at 9am for the 18km run to Coila Beach at Tuross. The first competitors are expected to arrive between one and two hours later.

You can stay in touch with the field via the George Bass Live Tracker.

For more photos from day one head to the George Bass Facebook page.

Video above from Livefire – IT, Digital Media, Social Media Marketing

*Ian Campbell is traveling as a guest of the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon.

George Bass Surfboat Marathon ready to go – TOMORROW!

Coogee on the run south from Batemans Bay in 2016. Photo: GB Facebook
Coogee on the run south from Batemans Bay in 2015. Photo: GB Facebook

Rowers and ski paddlers ready to start their conquest of the mighty George Bass Surfboat Marathon are settling into their Moruya High campground ready for a start on the last day of 2017.

This one of a kind event starts at the Batemans Bay Bridge tomorrow (Dec 31) morning. For the seven days that follow crews and competitors from around Australia will make their way to the finish line in Eden 188km away.

After the Clyde River start, day 1 will see competitors sweep past Malau Bay, Tomakin, and Broulee finishing in front of Moruya Surf Club at South Head.

The surf ski paddlers will be the first to go at 9:30 followed by the first of the surf boats at 9:45.

The men’s surf boat record over the 31km’s is 2:20:44 set by Batemans Bay in 2008, the women’s record stands at 2:34:04 (Torquay 2012), while Tim Jacobs run in 2008 is still the benchmark for the surf skis – 2:15:20.

Gathering at Tomakin this afternoon for their first pre-race briefing, crews and paddlers looked fresh and ready to go after months of training.

Gary Pettigrove is sweeping for the Broulee Capitals Open Women, a Canberra based crew that rows under the banner of Broulee Surf Club.

“We’ve been training five mornings a week since May, a 5:30 start on Lake Burley Griffin, and every fortnight we’ve been coming down to have a row on the coast,'” Gary explains.

This will be Gary’s eighth Bass, for some of his rowers it will be their first.

“At the end, you’ve got a memory that lasts a lifetime, it’s a grueling event – seven days, 190k’s, busting your gut the whole way,” Gary says.

“We are a competitive group, but we are here to have fun, that’s the main thing.”

Gary Pettigrove from the Broulee Capitals. Photo: Ian Cambell
Gary Pettigrove from the Broulee Capitals. Photo: Ian Cambell

Fitzy is a member of Warriewood Surf Club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches these days but his connections with the other side of our continent has pulled together a masters crew that includes three rowers from Western Australia.

“I used to sweep at City of Perth back in the eighties,” Fitzy says.

“Garbo here was in my crew back in the eighties, he found out that we were doing the Bass and said – I want to have a crack at that.”

“Then he rang up and said I’ve got two mates that want to do it as well,” Fitzy says, and a trans-Australian team rowing under the Warriewood name was born.

Only one member of the Warriewood crew have taken part before, but all have a surf boat background. They range in age between 60 and 65 years and know what they are in for.

“We don’t have sliding seats in our boat, so our arses are in trouble,” Garbo laughs.

Given the distances they have traveled when Warriewood put their oars in the water at Batemans Bay tomorrow it will be the first time they have rowed together as a complete unit.

Crews have come from around Australia to take part, all competitive but with a sense of fun. Photo: Ian Campbell
Crews have come from around Australia to take part, all competitive but with a sense of fun. Photo: Ian Campbell

This will be the twentieth running of the great race, only two clubs have competed in every event – Moruya and Tathra. Tathra is represented this year in the men’s masters, Moruya in the open women’s.

Open Men, crews entered:

Bulli NSW, Coogee NSW, Long Reef NSW, Mollymook NSW, Pambula NSW.

Reigning champions are Bulli who are vying for their third straight overall win.

Open Women, crews entered:

Broulee Blue Bottles NSW, Broulee Canberra Capitals ACT/NSW, Moruya NSW, North Cronulla NSW, Torquay Victoria.

This will be a competitive race, North Cronulla are expected to do well. The three local crews are also up against one of the top teams from Victoria.

Masters Men, crews entered:

Broulee Canberra Capitals ACT/NSW, Bulli NSW, Grange SA, Narooma NSW, Noosa QLD, North Cronulla NSW, Pambula NSW, Tathra NSW, Wanda NSW, Warriewood NSW, Wollongong City NSW.

Narooma will be vying for their third straight overall win but will face stiff competition. With 11 crews entered from across the country it will be a close race.

Masters Women, crews entered:

Darwin NT, Pambula NSW, Broulee NSW, Avalon Beach NSW.

The women give their all and race with a commitment and dedication that is their own, this race is one to watch.

Surf Ski Marathon:

Gavin Granger, Pambula SLSC, NSW
Nathan Vipond, Maroochydore SLSC, QLD
Paul Buttel, Wanda SLSC, NSW
Stephen Bunney, Bermagui SLSC, NSW
John Pattison, Austinmer SLSC, NSW
Jacqui Keogh, Pambula SLSC, NSW
David Schofield, Shoalhaven Heads SLSC, NSW
Nicholas Kirby, North Cronulla SLSC, NSW
Craig Vipond, Maroochydore SLSC QLD
Warwick Ward, Wollongong City SLSC, NSW
Simon Stenhouse, Moruya SLSC, NSW
Dean Gardiner, City of Perth SLSC, WA
Nick Ziviani and Joseph Hasley, Narooma SLSC, NSW
Brendan Cowled and Tony Ireland, Mollymook SLSC, NSW

This year’s ski marathon is one of the largest in recent years and includes double ski competitors which will add to the spectacle.

Competitors will have a southeasterly breeze in their face tomorrow morning at 15 to 20 knots, swinging northeasterly in the afternoon. Seas will be running on a 1 to 2 metre swell under cloudy skies, a top temp of 23 degrees is forecast.

The outgoing tide will be a challenge at the start line, with referee Tony Haven keen to make sure everyone stays behind the line until the hooter sounds. Tony asking crews at this afternoon’s briefing to give each other plenty of room in the run south to avoid a “Wild Oats XI” type penalty.

Family, friends, and fans can follow the race via the George Bass Surfboat Marathon tracker.

*Ian Campbell is traveling with the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon as a guest.