Royal Australian Navy Hits the Waves amid Australian Surf Rowers League

 Royal Australian Navy Hits the Waves amid Australian Surf Rowers League

More than 400 surf rowers and 55 surfboats hit the waves at Surfers Paradise Beach on November 3-4 for the official launch of the 2012-13 Navy Australian Surf Rowers League season.

A major supporter of the Australian Surf Rowers League (ASRL) for the past five years, Navy heightened the excitement at the launch by providing musical performances by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Band Queensland Detachment and numerous flypasts by 723 SQN’s new Bell 429 helicopter.

Weather conditions during the weekend were partly overcast with moderate 10-knot Easterly winds, which generated choppy one-metre waves for the surf rowers to compete in.

Races in surfboat divisions including Open Men, Open Women, Under 23 Men, Under 23 Women, Under 19 Men and Reserve started on Saturday at 8am and wrapped up with interstate finals on Sunday at 2pm.

Sweep for the Mooloolaba Women Surfboat Crew, Brenden Western, said it was a great weekend with plenty of challenging competition from interstate crews.

“I’m pretty happy with our performance this weekend. On Saturday we were undefeated and won the Open Women’s division. We’re really pumped and looking forward to the upcoming surfboat season,” Mr Western said.

“This weekend was a particularly good warm up for us as we’ll be competing in the World Series at Christies Beach in South Australia in two weeks.”

Highlights for the Gold Coast locals during the weekend included Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club marching in review order with the RAN Band, numerous flypasts by 723 SQN’s Bell 429 helicopter and the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Search and Rescue helicopter. As an added surprise, spectators were also treated to a spectacular acrobatic aerial display by the RAAF’s renowned Roulettes.

Spokesman for the Navy ASRL alliance, CDRE David Letts, said the event was extremely successful as more than 85 crews from Surf Life Saving Clubs across Australia participated.

“There are more than 550 male and female surf rowing crews around Australia from more than 320 surf clubs, so it’s great that so many crews made it along to compete at this season’s launch,” CDRE Letts said.

He said the alliance between Navy and the ASRL was a perfect fit because both comprised fit, healthy Australians in boats who provide a community service for Australia.

“As in Navy, teamwork is essential in surf rowing and a lifestyle of fitness defines the people of both Navy and the ASRL.

“Navy’s alliance with the ASRL means it can hold events all around Australia and garner support from local communities. By nurturing the sport, Navy provides the ASRL with the necessary resources to assist in recruiting lifesavers. The more lifesavers in the water, the more lives are saved.”

The weekend culminated in an interstate competition between New South Wales and Queensland after Victoria and South Australia were eliminated in the semi-final. After a fierce afternoon of racing, New South Wales defeated Queensland.

The Navy ASRL series will consist of 26 events around Australia from November 2012 to February 2013 held on some of the country’s premier beaches. The ASRL was born in New South Wales in 1992 as the International League of Australian Surfboat Rowers Inc. and currently has more than 3000 members from more than 260 clubs, which make up more than 450 crews.

Naval Today Staff, November 6, 2012; Image: RAN