north curl curl, dec 1
3 Points Challenge and Swim, North Curl Curl, Sat, Dec 1, 2012
Reasons why it's special, 1,2,3
The mob gets briefed.
We always enjoy our day down at North Curly. It's a different event, or combination of events, with a swim, followed by a biathlon, followed by a "skins", in which the top three boofhead and laydee swimmers from each of the main events race off over three elimination races, the winner taking the cash.
We're not normally impressed by events aimed solely at elites, but on this occasion, the style of the race and the way they run the swim-offs involves the crowd and can become very, very exciting. We were very proud last year, for example, when our cobber, Zucckearney (Sue Kearney) a pay clerk in local gummint, came second in the skins to a 16-year-old slip of a girl. How did Sue, in her early 50s, get so close? Because she can surf, and the skins event makes it possible for people who can surf to do well, provided the surf helps them. In the skins, the six swimmers in each division - boofheads and laydeees -- are rubber-duckied out behind the break to a pair of gate cans, where they jump into the water. They race in from there, probably only 75-100 metres, depending on the break. The last two are eliminated. And so it goes over three rounds, to find the winner. The three races are run hard on the heels of each other, so the competitors get minimal time to catch their breath, something which probably favours the younger ones.
But because the races are so quick, so short, so close to shore, and the commentary is informed, the punters can feel part of the action. Unlike plenty of other dashes for cash when all you can see are a loose collection of swim caps bouncing around in the sea, then coming in through the break, and unless you know someone well enough to identify their stroke, you don't have a clue who is in front or what's happening.
It's an exciting event, lots of fun, and very, very different. Surprising, then, to hear North Curly microphone man, Glenn Slater, remark to us afterwards: "Doesn't everyone (other swims) do something like that?" Well, er, no, Glenn. Indeed, not many swims even do dashes for cash any more. We used to take part in dashes for cash on the grounds that, if there's a swim on, then you do it. We liked particularly the dashes for cash -- such as at Whale Beach -- where there was $100 up for the winner, and $100 in a random draw of all swimmers, so every mug who went in the dash for cash had a chance of winning. They don't do that any more. Other dashes for cash have fallen off, too.
But the North Curly version, the skins, adds a dimension that no other event offers: a means of merging the excitement of the elite swimming with the altruistic interest of the rank and file.
Mrs Sparkle's route around the North Curl Curl swim... The os.c GPS-in-a-plastic-bag says it was 2.32km, but that probably includes chatting.
It's one dimension of several. Another is the 3 Points Challenge, the main event at North Curly, that offers three shortish, sharp swims at North Curly, South Curly and Freshwater, with runs between them. We did this event some years back. In a rush of blood to the head, we decided when we arrived at North Curly one day that we would like to have a go at the 3 Points Challenge, so we did. Deciding in such a rush of blood to the head meant that we had no shoes, so we did it in bare feet. The following year, they introduced a rule: that you couldn't do it in bare feet. We guess they figured they hadn't needed that rule, under the "bleeding' obvious" principle, until we came along. But we got through it, and here we are, watching this year's event from the pitcher window of the surf club, recovering from a hip replacement.
The 3 Points Challenge offers another unique dimension. Dee Why used to offer a biathlon, too, some years back: a swim followed by a run along the beach, up to the top of Long Reef headland and back to DY. Lorne, down in Victoria, offers its bush run -- a spectacular, dramatic, and enormously fun event -- on Fridee night prior to the Pier to Pub swim on the Sat'dee arvo. Evans Head offers a dash, but in the local pool the afternoon prior to the main swims in the sea, making a good weekend away. Do any other events offer variations such as these?
There are two other elements that make the North Curly event special: one is that they have become, over the past five years, one of the best clubs at making you feel as if they're delighted to have you there. Others include Bilgola, this coming Sundee (the Billie swim remains our favourite boutique event of the year), and Dawny, around Cockatoo Island, which ran two weeks ago.
We said to Killer, "Have you died your hair?", at which he dipped his lid. Not really. Killer says he walked down the road at home in Mur'bah to get his regular haircut from his cobber, Shark, only to find Shark entertaining his cobbers at a barbie. No problem, Shark says. Killer sits on the chair and Shark proceeds to cut, also continuing to cook on the barbie, drink, and groove to the music. Killer says he knew something was wrong when Shark muttered, "Oooh... I can fix that". And he did, but Killer still prefers to cover up.
And, of course, there's Killer. Killer has sort of adopted North Curly (he thinks North Curly has adopted him, which they have to some extent, they gush over him over the PA so much. Do they realise that this is what keeps bringing him back from his home at Murwillumbah?) This year was Killer's eighth 3 Points Challenge. Mrs Sparkle asked him beforehand, how had his training been going (Killer's training generally is more dramatic than his competing), and he said, "Today will be the first time I have lashed on the running shoes since this event last year." Not a wise thing for a bloke in his early 50s, especially one so taken with Red Bull and its ilk as Killer is. Killer and his cobbers from the Murwillumbah Brass Monkeys come down each year for North Curly. It's an annual "lads trip away", except one of them had the temerity this year to bring his girlfriend. Lots of cats bum mouths over that one. Last we heard from Killer this weekend, it was about 7pm and he and cobber, Marc, the real organiser of The Killer Swim (The Tweed River Swim), run the previous weekend in the river at Mur'bah, were about to alight from the Manly ferry, having been the last ones standing at the North Curly bar. From their point of view, it had been the perfect weekend.
The other thing we like about the North Curly event is that they're always asking how their event compares with other good events, what they can do to make it better, etc. Our first meeting with the North Curly people was over lunch in a pub in the city. Glenn Slater, microphone man, and Colin Moyes, came to tell us what they wanted to do and to seek advice in how to go about it. They're very open to advice and feedback. Plenty of organisers make out that they're keen for feedback; fewer actually listen.
A sight that will strike fear into the toughest masseur and masseuse: Killer, lumbering to the finish of the 3 Points Challenge. Once across the line, his habit is to head straight to the massage tent.
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One Challenge & A Dolphin
On a sticky warm cloudy overcast morning I make my way to 3 Points Challenge. The name sounds exciting! Contrary to the run & swim, a group of people like me will only be doing the 2km Ocean swim. Luckily Curly beach is just up the road. My hubby drops me of at the Surf club; in the distance I can see the buoys in the water showing the parkour. Though I hardly spot anything set up on the sand, I just assume I'm early which I'm not as it is past 8 O'clock! When hubby zooms away, and my mind is on coffee, I see in the distance a hub of activity. Stupid me I forgot Curl Curl has two surf clubs, North & South. Apparently I'm at the wrong one. So hurray for me for knowing my local area. At least I'm at the right spot for a cuppa as they have an awesome coffee shop here at South Curly LSC, right at the beach. Fifteen minutes later (lots of early coffee demands) with a cuppa in hand I stroll my way through the muddled sand towards the end of the beach. It feels like I'm hovering in the desert or have been stranded on a tropical island such high humidity. With a 500-meter walk, I decide I can now cross off my warm up!
Arriving at the right spot, the music is loudly pumping in the air. It feels like I have arrived at the aftermath of a techno beach party in Ibiza or something like that. Though the average crowd is a bit too old, on closer inspection. YES, this is definitely an ocean swim event! Up the stairs in the registrations area is a hub of activity according to the 3 Points Challenge face book page they expect around 1000 people! Later I discover the majority is for the run & swim and we ocean swimmers are with a small group of a 150 only. Said so, having this amount of people starting at the same time is not small at all! I'm excited about my free T-shirt which comes with the package today of a fluoro yellow cap and a timing chip. The tee looks a bit big for a small size. I'm sure I crossed size S on Oceans Swims registry (You didn't tick anything, Angela: os.c) but end up with an L, a nice volunteer is happy to swap it for my size. In the end it doesn't really matter as the event's tee's end up with all almost a 100 latex caps at the bottom of a cupboard anyway. So what's the fuzz...
I'm delighted to see Ocean Swims Paul happy stationed on a stool at the window. Knowing from the Ocean Swims newsletter, the 'boss' had announced his arrival today! It's good to see him and his very positive mind set about his new hip, soon to be hips! Ocean swimming without 'Ocean Swims' present is like the earth missing its axe. So lots of well wishes, to Paul and a great recovery!
By now it has started to drizzle, but most swimmers don't mind, it feels like a warm shower. Me, myself, I avoid the rain, as I'm afraid of getting cold. This is the first year I've been swimming so early in the season. My only worry for this swim is that I can't finish, as my body will be too cold. Some people don't understand this. Especially not reasoning that a majority of the week, most of the beaches had been closed along the Northern Beaches. Due to shark spotting and the red algae. A whale carcass at Whale Beach (really!) had attracted quite a few white pointers in the area. http://origin.manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/manly-and-pittwater-beaches-closed-after-shark-sightings/ So yesterday this beach was still closed now happily we all go in 1000 en masse! My friends overseas think we are one crazy bunch of ozzies! BUT chatting with one of the elite ocean swimmers he says it so nicely 'sharks are the last thing on my mind when I'm swimming out there, all I'm focused on is the next buoy. It's time for the debrief and then of for the start. Amazingly a dolphin crosses right in between the two buoys of the entry gate in the ocean. It's pure magic!! In such moments you know WHY you ocean swim! To my surprise there seems to be enough space for all of us for the start. A big fella is a bit annoyed when small people squeeze in front of him, I'm used to this natural pecking order by now. Under a loud musically notes of "I like to move it move it' we run of in the ocean. The only thing I can think of it's colder then I expected, but as with every start your mind is taken of anything as you are surrounded by an overdose of whacking feet and arms. The water feels refreshing and there are warm and cold patches and it divides my mind. Though on the Cockatoo Island swim an elderly swimmer (who swims all over winter in her cozzies) told me 'you just have to get over that'. So my mantra for the whole swim is 'just get over it' and when I start feeling cold again..I pump myself up by saying 'get over it, get over it, get over it, JUST get over it' AND for some reason it seems to work. At the turning buoy with a long stretch ahead, it 'turns' out to be the start of a roller coaster wave ride. I' m still amazed about how calm the ocean looks from the beach but how moving it is once inside. I just love those lifts there is something fascinating about it, the only minus is you can't see the next buoy and me and the little pack I'm in seem to be looking for direction. A loving paddler shows up and for the next 15 minutes he guides us to the next buoy. There are only a few paddlers out there, so I feel delighted with this. Not knowing that we must have been a troop towards the end. I guess that is what cold does to you, it 'messes with your brain. Above that because of the wavy section, my tummy starts to mix around. This morning I accused hubby of having gotten me the wrong yoghurt (peach and mango) as normally my ocean swim breakfast consist off vanilla yoghurt with fresh cut banana's and muesli. So now my tummy tries to mix peach, mango & banana with a taste of coffee, it feels like a special milkshake, further details will be spared to you all!
When the paddler leaves us at the buoy I know I'm over half way, and I'm convinced I can make it to the end. Thinking that the closer I will swim to the beach that the warmer it will get. This proves to be wrong! Cold patches start again to overwhelm me but by now I'm mixing up the song lines and the mantra
'GET I got to move it move it! OVER it' and on it goes! Me and my pack seem to have drift of and we have to swim back in to the get back through the 'dolphin gate' and finish our last part towards the beach. I start feeling proud of myself I've managed to overcome my cold challenge and swimming a (by navigation) 2,2km swim has turned out to be a really delightful swim. Running over the finish line, I can see a time for around 48 minutes! Yeah great I think, later to realize it's not that great at all (after now about 2 seasons of swimming I still don't know my times.. it turns out my best time for a 2 km has actually been 38 minutes! Really?! So that today I finish a neatly number ten in my age group! Not a bad spot, you would think, though as we had only 10 women swimming aged (40 - 49) I'm actually LAST! Though I was one of those ten out there and that makes me smile. WHAT does not make me smile are the gigantic stacks of bananas waiting for us at the finish, the only fruit available. They also carry a sticker 'banana's don't belong in pyjamas'. Right?!! AND add to that next time nor do they belong in peach mango yoghurt!
Time for the after cuppa coffee, and my stroll back to the South Curl Curl Surf Club! By now hundreds of people have gathered to get ready for the REAL 3 points challenge, the sun has come out and it's gonna be a stinky hot day. Good luck to them all! To my surprise when I'm settle with my coffee (and my Sunday Telegraph paper debating FRONTPAGE the loss of the budgy smuggler?!) at the other end of the beach, I discover I'm first row for this excitement as the actually parkour runs over the terrace of the coffee shop. Now you have to know that we swimmers look fun in our wet gear! Though seeing a guy in speedos, with sneakers and socks while having a cuppa makes me burst out loud! And I know now, there are no mistakes in life; if I were dropped of at the right Surf Life Saving Club I would have missed this special coffee with a view. Life is full of CHALLENGEs and a special cuppa brew with a view is not meant to be one of them, but I'm happy it is!!
Angela van Boxtel
Results... click here
Pics by oceanswims.com, Tacoma Jim and Angela van Boxtel.
oceanswims.com uses Olympus cameras, this time the Tough TG-1 and PEN E-P1.
Our thanks to our favourite ocean swimming brewer, Chuck Hahn, for the
James Squire Award.
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