Thursday, 21 February 2008

Surf boats at Newquay

Rescue 2010, the Surf Lifesaving World Championship is coming to Newquay, Cornwall. It promises to be a spectacular event, with surf paddling races, running on the beach (on the sand - crippling!) and races hauling blowup 'drowning victims' in a temporary Olympic-size pool behind Fistral Beach.
But the most amazing bit of all is the surfboat racing.
Local photographer and Times contributor Andy Cox sent me these great pictures of surf boating on Fistral.
Boats with four oarsmen and a cox who also steers by oar start knee deep in the water, leap into their boats and row for the breakers. If they manage to build up enough speed, they break through and continue to a buoy.
Getting back involves teamwork that river rowers can only gasp at. When they crest the wave, the crew has to leap to the stern to hold the boat horizontal as it surfs down the wave.
The tiniest miscalculation can lead to disaster, as this picture shows.
If they really blow it, the bow can dig into the sandy bottom and come to a sudden stop, pitchpoling the boat over and throwing the crew into the drink. If the prang is really good, it ends up on U-tube, thus:

(The commentary on this is a bit strange. Either he was being extremely insensitive or it is in fact less dangerous than it looks).
What really appeals to me about surf lifesaving as a sport is that it is designed to hone the skills of volunteers who make our beaches safer rather than just provide a platform for people to expand their egos. More power to their elbow, say I.

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