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 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