5 January 2023

Close contest as the George Bass Surf Marathon approaches finish in tough conditions

| Karyn Starmer
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surf boats on beach

The seven-day race from Batemans Bay to Eden began in idyllic conditions. Photo: Nick Peters Photography.

Billed as the longest, toughest surfboat race in the world, the George Bass Surf Marathon is living up to its reputation in 2023.

Never an event to be underestimated, this year’s event is proving to be a tale of two weather systems, with crews experiencing the best and worst of weather in the seven-day, 190-kilometre surfboat and ski marathon from Batemans Bay to Eden.

Twelve boat crews and 10 ski paddlers left Corrigans Beach for Moruya on the first leg of the race on Sunday 1 January. Competitors experienced idyllic conditions with sunny skies, calm seas and light north-easterly winds to assist as they made their way south.

READ MORE George Bass Surfboat Marathon a goer for 2023, but entries are down on previous years

Excellent conditions continued for the second leg from Moruya to Tuross Head, and new course records were set by Nathan Haythorpe from Kiama Downs in the ski paddlers category.

On day three the southerly wind picked up earlier than predicted, making the Narooma Bar and outside waters unfavourable, forcing organisers to move the day’s course to Wagonga Inlet.

Race director Andrew Holt said good crowds had been in attendance for all the legs so far.

“Even though competitor numbers are down this year, the support from locals and visitors has been great,” he said.

“With fires and COVID-19 it has been five years since we have run a complete George Bass, so we are very happy to get to run the race this time and see the finish in sight.

“The 2025 event will be the 50th anniversary of the George Bass and we are already getting inquiries,” Mr Holt said.

READ ALSO The Raiders make a sentimental journey to Moruya

Due to continuing unfavourable conditions at Narooma beach and bar, the day four leg was launched from Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club to cover 23 km along the Bermagui coastline.

Today’s leg was centralised to Tathra waters with crews rowing a four buoy course.

“We have alternate courses for each leg to ensure we keep to the seven-day schedule,” Mr Holt said.

“At this stage it is looking like crews will be facing southerly winds for the rest of the week. They will not be looking forward to it.”

Despite the deteriorating wind conditions, the race remains tight in some categories.

After five days of competition, the Moruya Canberra Vikings crew have opened a narrow lead of just 12 minutes ahead of their rival Moruya crew in the Male Open Boat category. While only two minute separates the first two crews in the Male Super Vet category with North Cronulla leading Bulli. Tathra have built a solid lead ahead of Pambula in the Female Vet Boats leading by just 20 minutes after almost ten hours of rowing.

Male Spec Ski competitors Nathan Haythorpe and Peter Gallagher are leading the fleet with collective times of 7 hours 58 minutes and 8 hours 18 minutes.

The next leg is from Tathra SLSC to Pambula SLSC and the final leg starts at Merimbula Main Beach to Cocora Beach at Eden on Saturday 7 January.

Follow all the action via George Bass Marathon

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