Driving down the hill into Bondi, white horses on ominous blue grey ocean. No flat, benign waterway in the mode of Coogee last weekend.
Shite, thinks surfmuppet, replay of last year’s B2B coming up when the weather trolls launch a southerly ambush and the water safety are trawling punters out in droves and wrapping them up in silver paper like great big raw turkeys getting ready for the Christmas ovens.
Don’t check willyweather yesterday or this morning, just fall out of bed, jam the gear into a backpack, sling it into the silver bullet and roar off over the hill and far away, direction Bondi.
List of forgets:
- Daylight saving started weeks ago and it’s not as late as it seems
Normally don’t like to disturb the wetsuit mouldering away in an old metal locker in the garage but the good folks organising the B2B have offering a wetsuit amnesty on the following conditions:
- Air temperature drops below 40 degrees C
- Water temperature drops below core body temperature of 37 degrees C
- Tony Abbot’s popularity rises above 2% of the voting public
The reader detects perhaps a testy, petulant tone in the above?
Is surfmuppet embittered through watching all his erstwhile comrades-in-arms laughing, joking and cheering the announcement over the loudspeakers that Santa had arrived early and that all can wetsuit up.
Does a hidden snarl cross his face as they all happily dig into their packs and unfurl their wetsuits which they didn’t leave a-mouldering in metal lockers in their garages.
Say what you like about the B2B but the organisation is great, efficient, friendly, considerate – wetsuits all around save for a miserable looking bastard taking it out on Banana Boat man, haranguing him for more sunblock, getting the poor sod to “do my back for me” trying all the different types 10, 20, 30 and 50spf – can’t have too much sunblock, can you?
Surfmuppet Technical Tip – sunblock and goggles don’t go well together – how to de-sunblock your goggles 200 metres off the beach in a howling southerly while gulping down prodigious amounts of the Pacific ocean.
The Bondi Fit crowd are there near the registration stand up on the grassy knoll. Rumpole addresses the jury on the wetsuit question and finds in the affirmative. Donkey is having love hearts drawn on his cheeks (face) in fluoro green zinc. Loch Ness Gordy is taking a leaf from Rumpole and Flipper is gearing up for his first B2B – first anything over 1km.
As the numbers swell more of the naked make their appearance and the sting goes out of surfmuppet feeling such a clown – Longey, Sea Nymph, Dolphin Boy, the Journo and more take to the brine sans rubberskin and there’s Piano Paul in the same mode emerging from the bay after a bracing warm-up.
Run into Sunshine Sarah at the pavilion ready to dish it out to all the ladies in her category and the race.
No sign of Spot – rumoured to be running back from Kurnell where he led the Tri legions earlier in the morning and will be joining one of the later waves.
The race gets going with the elites and a couple of waves after the yellow hats of the 50+ and the trinkets and toys brigade. It’s bumpy from the start and the wind is blowing hard from the south/ southeast. Technical hitch number one with everything a blur through the generosity of the Banana Boat man and it’s threading water trying to clear the goggles while not drowning or getting run over by the hordes in yellow hats.
The Journo slides past and it’s on goggles to try to catch up.
Have to stop again after getting belted around by the chop while leering through the smeared lenses. Spit and a polish and then leave enough seawater in them to act as a kind of burn-your-eyes-out set of improvised windscreen wipers. Feeling like the half wit of the Tasman Sea but there you go.
Traffic coming the other way! Some poor bastards have had enough by the first buoy and have turned back, striking out back for Bondi like a horde of banshees from hell were after them.
A dark thought looms up from the subconscious that perchance they are swimming from something nasty which surfmuppet can’t see because of his bollixed goggles.
Don’t think. One stroke at a time. Keep going.
Trying to find the best side to breathe on and discover neither working too well. Thankful now for the hypoxic training Piano Paul dishes out on a regular basis as now having to go a few strokes on one breath – oxygen scavenger of Bondi Bay.
Mackenzies Point floats past in languid slow motion. The pink witch’s hats buoys are reached and breached. Somewhere off Tamarama surfmuppet realises spending Sunday morning in the B2B washing machine is actually fun, relaxes and starts enjoying the experience.
Now it becomes a race of two halves. The technique has degenerated into a parody of a drunken squid having an epileptic fit. Start fixing it up by lifting the elbows and shortening the stroke, pulling back shoulder wide, trying to get the arse higher up in the water.
All the things told a thousand and one times to do. In one ear, swirl around in the synaptic mists for a few microseconds, then out the other ear. Breathing starts to come good and hooray! Off to Bronte we go! Start catching up with a few other backmarkers and pass one or two.
The run in to Bronte is a surprise as the ocean takes a smoko break and has a cup of tea with the wind. Not much of a surf and before you know it, we’re all legging it up the sand and over the blue matt under the white blow up arch. One of the SLSC girls takes off the timing chip as the surfmuppet will fall on his arse with the bloodrush to the head if he bends over to remove it.
There’s the Journo ahead for the second time this season. She’s too much of a lady to go scooting and hollering around the sand in a victory dance but the slightest lift of the right eyebrow and an almost imperceptible glint in the eye signal the protocol of victory.
Photos. Back slapping. Finding bags. Vacuuming up the free stuff – water, Gatorade, drink bottles, sunblock, health food bars, newspapers – filling up the swag with loot of every description. BF tent set up and war stories swapped. Already talk of the next one.
Walk back to Bondi with Loch Ness Gordy. Watch the last waves coming through along the course and the swarm of water safety people shadowing them. We talk of the swim, business, aging relatives in northern lands and the high calibre of the ladies on the walk along the cliffs.
All signs of the swim have evaporated from Bondi by the time we’ve hoofed it there. A few discarded tee shirts, water bottles and the like are all that remain of the excitement and nervous tension of the cadres of swimmers who lined the beach a thousand strong and more only a few hours before. The wind whips up the sand and for some reason brings to mind a variation on Shelley’s “Ozymandias” as an epilogue for the adventures of the morning.
“I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in Bronte Beach. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is surfmuppet, king of eejits:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Hope this isn’t copywrited and Shelley decides to reach out from beyond the grave and sue. He can have the mouldy wetsuit as compensation if he likes.