Mollymook SLSC has completed its first George Bass Surfboat Marathon, placing fourth behind winners Bulli.
The crew finished the seven day event in Eden on January 6 – claiming one third and three fourth place finishes along the way.
“Preparation into the event ran smoothly, with the team receiving plenty of assistance from club members,” Steven Craig said.
“The hardest thing was keeping the excitement under wraps. Once the race started all the nerves settled and we got about racing.”
For the first five days crews battled strong southerly winds.
“It was extremely tough, day four the hardest, we had to row into 30-40 kilometre winds with only six people in the boat,” Craig said.
“The course record was close to 90 minutes, but it took everyone three hours.
“We got a reprieve on day six, with smoother conditions, with a north-easterly wind, blowing us right into Eden.”
Overall, Craig, who previously competed with Bulli, said the team enjoyed the event.
“Despite a gastro bug going through the camp and two guys suffering wrist injuries, we loved it,” Craig said.
“It was harder than expected, but one of the best things we’ve done. There’s already talk of entering a team in 2020, with interest in a womens and masters team.”
Making the journey even more incredible is the fact Craig, a doctor at Moruya and Nowra hospitals, saved the life of Pambula sweep, Wayne Kent, 66, on day one.
“Our team finished for the day and I was talking on the beach before the Pambula boat hit the sand,” Craig said.
“Their sweep lost all colour in his face and fell out of the boat – he was unconscious.
“We dragged him to the medical tent. His heart had completely stopped – he was as good as dead.
“Thankfully they had a defibrillator and we gave Wayne two shocks and two rounds of CPR – his heart started again.”
Wayne was taken to hospital, where a pacemaker was fitted.
“If his heart had stopped a minute earlier, the crew wouldn’t have got in to shore in time to save him,” Craig said.
“If it happened a minute later, I wouldn’t have been on hand. Everything happened at the right time.
“Imagine if he had passed away – the shadow it would have cast on not just this year’s event, but future ones.
“I know personally the experience took the wind out of my sails. The Pambula boat, were determined to finish the voyage for their fallen comrade. They even left his thongs in the boat, to feel as though he was out there rowing with them.”
On day six, Kent was on hand to welcome the crews to his hometown Pambula – where he received a warm reception at the day’s presentation.