George Bass MarathonLongest, Toughest Surfboat Race in the World
This January from 1-7, the George Bass Marathon will be held. It is the longest open surf boat marathon in the world. The event is run every two years. Surf Boats row from Batemans Bay to Eden over seven gruelling days. Tathra will continue its unbroken record of being the only surf club to have entered and completed the George Bass Marathon since its inception in 1975. Our 'Boaties' are a force to be reckoned with in what is one of the toughest surf boat marathons. In 2012, Tathra will be entering two crews - a Men's Veteran and a Women's Open crew. This is the first time Tathra has entered a women's crew.
The George Bass Marathon will start in Bateman's Bay on Sunday 1st January , come into Tathra Beach on Thursday 5th January, and finish in Eden on Saturday 7th January. Tathra Surf Club invites the community to come along and welcome the crews into Tathra Beach on Thursday. They will be expected in from around 11am. Lunch and refreshments will be available on the beach.
This is the Longest, Toughest Surfboat Race in the world. The Navy George Bass Surfboat Marathon commenced in 1975 and surf ski's were added to the event in the 1990's. It is a truly unique experience for all competitors, friendships are made for life once you become part of the Bass family.
Over the 35 Bass years we have had competitors representing around 100 surf clubs from every State in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain & Wales. In the early races some crews entered with only 4 rowers and completed the whole course. The great vet’s crew from Wollongong City typifies the spirit of what this race has been built on.
During a race in the eighties one of their members was too crook to row a leg so the remaining 3 rowed the leg themselves. During a recent Bass the ladies crew from Parigian Surf Club, found themselves down several rowers with hyperthermia etc when the fleet ran into a horrific southerly blow on the longest (35Km) leg. Race officials tried to convince the remaining rowers to pull out but in a show of total determination the girls said “we came here to row the course and by hell that’s what we are going to do”. The girls were on the water with no back up for 6 hours and finished the race to a wonderful reception from several thousand spectators who had stayed to cheer them home. Without exception every crew that has ever rowed this race goes away saying that it has been a fantastic week. You will make Bass friends for life, because we all camp together, race hard and play together.
How is the race run?
For those that have never experienced the “Great Race” here is a brief overview of what you should expect. Future newsletters can go further into the actual race and tactics but this should give some insight into what you’re in for.
every day is in deep water between markers at the back of the surf. Under no conditions do we race off a beach. Remember you will have sliding seats fitted and the straight line start will set you on a course directly down the coast.
During the Race
You may steer whatever course you wish and many crews do just that. Some stay close to shore while others can be found kilometers out to sea. One of the classic ocean racing quotes was made during the 1981 marathon when a cagey old sweep of the young Corrimal crew was heard to yell at the crew from Moruya “move over Moruya and let us through”. Remember these crews were racing kilometers out to sea with nothing but ocean all around.
will always be fair and square to the racing course between markers beyond the break. You will never be asked to complete a race in through the surf. This is a rowing race not a race of chance and the last thing we want to do is place tired crews at risk by asking then to crack waves at the end of a marathon under race conditions. Crew changes are entirely your call. Many races have been won and lost by the timing of that call, both in terms of the stage of the race and how long it takes to complete the change. Remember you will need a powerboat as back up. Your extra crew rowers start the race in that powerboat and you may change your crew around as many times as you wish during the course of each day’s racing.