Despite being the first day of summer, it was not quite the picture perfect Bondi Beach Babe day on Sunday. Overcast, but seemingly no chance of rain and somewhere around the 18 degree mark in the morning. Plenty of sunscreen required for those braving the UV and the waves, and lucky they were warmer than the air temp. The south easterly swell, or was it north easterly, brought the temps to about 21 degrees. They packed some punch at 3 or so feet and regular.
Suckers like me lined up at 830 for the 1km warm up “Bondi Bay” swim… due to conditions the markers were set wide and deep, with a small gate to go in and out behind the breakers. The combination made for a late start, a course a bit hard to sight, and definitely more than the stated distance. Some estimated that it was on the higher side of 1.5km; judging by the winning times that seems about right.
There wasn’t much of a gap between the bay swim and the main event; a quick recovery coffee (or two) followed by some more appropriate liquids and there was only just enough time to scoff down a banana before lining up for the aqua trek to Bronte, an estimated 2 point something kms around the famous headland into Bronte beach. The swell had settled, but only slightly, and the pink triangular buoys trailing off into the distance and around to the south seemed to be spaced much farther apart than suggested. The familiar set of Bondi Beach, the icon, conspired with your subconscious to provide an ominous optical illusion. How big is this bay again? It felt huge.
Then the whistle and we were into the water. Holding your breath is always a shock when your heart rate goes up, followed by the dipping and dropping coastline. Dizziness is common in these swells. Where is that next marker? Just follow the feet in front and hope they know what they’re up to. Just don’t lose your goggles. Our old blokes cohort was sent off a little way behind the flippers and family group, which made for some interesting obstacles in the water as we swam toward our final destination; wetsuits, a snorkel or two, families, the odd breast stroker. The whole spectacle a welcome distraction in the deep off the point, where the visibility in the water was clouded by the prevailing swell.
Soon enough, you find your rhythm and breathing comes easier (unless you’re racing to the finish). Not quite the story for me: steady-as she-goes until we sight that historic Bronte beach and surf club. You could have sworn it was 1975. Bronte isn’t the most protected beach at the best of times; you can feel yourself getting swept off to New Zealand if you stray too far outside the flags. Trying to see the finish line as you swing out around Tamarama is a different story. Landing a jet on an aircraft carrier is probably a bit of a long bow… but you get the picture.
As fate would have it, I missed every set and had to swim through white water to the shore break, which promptly sent me into the sand. That’s what showers are for I guess. From the looks of the faces on the beach, most were happy to be on dry land and to have that blasted timing chip taken off their left ankle. The volunteers genuflecting for those too buggered to deal with velcro. The sight of the Tattersalls tent on the hill was a very welcome one. The massage, snacks and coffee even more so.
In summary: highly recommended.
A big thanks to the Tattersalls team and see you all next year!