North Coast Surf Boat Series

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Teams of surf boat crews will contest Round 10 of the North Coast Surf Boat Series (NCSBS) at Coffs Harbour on February 16. Deane Crockett, Boat Captain from the Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving Club, shares some history about the Series, which promises a day of action on our local waves …


How long have you been involved with the club, and what is your role there?

I started with Coffs Harbour SLSC when I was 8 as a young nipper and have been a member for most years since. I became involved in surf boat rowing in 1980 and have been involved to some degree since. I became a sweep of surf boats in 1986, and over the last 2 years have been the Boat Captain of our club.

Where is your club based, and roughly how many members do you have?

Our club is located at Park Beach in Coffs Harbour, and at present we have 4 boat crews competing and another girls’ crew which competes on and off (depending on whether it’s a bad hair day or nails need to be done!)

We are lucky that all our rowers are a good bunch and it’s such a great environment to be in. I think this is a common feeling for most of the clubs in the North Coast Boat Series.

Apart from boats, we have approx. 30 board, ski and beach competitors in our club (who secretly want to be boat rowers).

What is the North Coast Surf Boat Series?

The North Coast Surf Boat Series is a round- robin competition of surf boat racing that generally runs over 9 – 10 rounds at various beaches on the North Coast of New South Wales. The series was the brainchild of Michael (Cactus) Moran from Scotts Head Surf Club and Greg (Whale) Coleman, both now have unfortunately passed on, in 1994-95 and now involves crews from Forster in the south to Cudgen in the north. In the past, clubs would have to travel to Sydney or the Gold Coast to get good competition in an attempt to have an idea of how competitive they were in preparation for state and Australian titles.

This series has provided good competition by getting all North Coast crews together and has resulted in lifting the level of competition in country crews.

Round 10 of the series will take place at Coffs Harbour on February 16. Where exactly will the event take place, and what time will it kick off?

The final round will be a great event with a lot of crews in contention to win their separate divisions. There is strong competition for the Open Men’s division between Coffs, Tacking Point and Woolgoolga, with a lot of other divisions also very keenly contested. The overall point score between Wauchope, Woolgoolga, Tacking Point and Crescent Head is also tight.

Come down and have a look! Racing starts at 10am, and it’s a great spectacle. Whatever the results, I’m sure we’ll all have a beer after.

How many entrants are you expecting will compete on the day, and what clubs will entrants be representing? 

Overall, we think there will be upwards of 40 – 50 crews competing at Coffs for the final of the series. As I said previously, most divisions will come down to the wire, and the final here in Coffs will decide the winners of each division. There are several divisions, Open Men and Women, Reserve Grade, Under 19 Men and Women, Under 23 Men and Women – and not forgetting the ‘Old Boys’ – the Masters.

The Masters is a section where a rower must be over 30 years of age to compete, and divisions are decided on an aggregate age. So, we have an over 180s (which means the 4 rowers’ ages must add up to over 180 years) and a 200 division. The Masters are an important part of this series. They keep it real and are there for the fun of it … how sport should still be, I feel. Bernard Tomic – take note, son! Don’t get me wrong: they are a competitive bunch … even if we have to leg them into the boat, eh Chiz?

We are expecting clubs from Pacific Palms, Cape Hawke, Forster, Tacking Point, Port Macquarie, Wauchope, Bonnie Hills, Taree Old Bar, Crescent Head, South West Rocks, Macksville, Scotts Head, Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga, and Minnie Water.

Being the finals and having the presentation and end of series party afterwards with sponsors Hoey Moey and Tooheys, we expect a large contingent of rowers. Other sponsors: Reilly and Sons from Sydney Northern Beaches, NBN, and Croker Oars are all great supporters.

What exactly is involved with each race … how many individuals will there be in each team, and over what distance will they have to row?

There are 4 rowers in a crew plus the ‘brains’ of the outfit, the sweep, who sets the course, calls the race and keeps the thing straight.

A regular boat race is approximately         400 m. Crews all start on the water’s edge and on the starter’s gun, race to the sea, turn round a buoy and back to the beach. Races are about 5 minutes in length and although this does not seem a long period of time, trust me – it is the hardest 5 minutes in any sport you will ever do.

On the day, each crew will race 3 – 4 times, and the points for all their races will be added to decide the winner.

Surf boats have long been involved in Australia’s surf life saving movement, being used in many ocean rescue missions. How much of a part do these craft play in our local waters – are they used extensively for rescue these days, or more for competition?

Originally they were a rescue craft, but these days with jet skis and rubber ducks being so efficient, surf boats are now solely for competition purpose only.

What do you see as being the main aim of the North Coast Surf Boat Series?

Our main aim in the series is to bolster the strength of our local crews and improve results at major carnivals. The series has created a better camaraderie between local crews, which has created a great support network at these major events; in the past, country crews were the regarded as the poorer brothers. As a result, a lot of North Coast crews have gone on to ‘kick some city butt’.

Who can readers contact if they’re interested in learning more about the event at Coffs Harbour, or the club? 

We are always on the lookout for new rowers or sweeps in our club. If anyone wants to be a part of this great club or row surf boats, they can contact our club for details on 6652 3245, or come to the event on Saturday Feb 16 and say hi to me, Deane, or any other Coffs Harbour boat rower and we can connect you with the club in your area.

For any Coffs Harbour membership queries, contact Rachel Smyth on 0488 577 546.

Come down and support your local Coffs Harbour guys. They’re lookin’ good!

Thanks Deane.

Interview by Jo Atkins.

This article was published in issue 29 of Coffs Coast Focus

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