It’s no 34 kilometre stint down the Bermagui coastline to Tathra, but rowers in the George Bass took on a 25 kilometre circuit off Bermagui on Thursday.
Race organisers said the loop off Bermagui included deceptively large swells and a 30-knot headwind as crews passed the headleand.
The Bermagui to Tathra leg is the longest of the race and despite the shortened loop would still prove the most challenging yet.
Crews hit the water just after 9am, but were expected to spend more than three hours on the water, while surf ski competitors were sent on an alternative route to avoid the swell and wind conditions.
“The skis won't be going out past the headline because they would just fall off,” a spokesman for the event said.
As the world’s longest and most gruelling surfboat races nears the final stages, there is stiff competition at the top of the open men’s ladder, but competitive rivalries are forming across the board.
Coogee took out top spot in the fourth day of competition to sit equal first with Bulli, while the Moruya Vikings sit in second and look to finish strongly.
However at the back of the open field, the Pambula and Tathra clubs are playing out a neighbourly competition on the ladder.
Pambula opens sweep Andrew Holt said times between the two squads had been as low as five seconds apart, but he was eager to level the odds with the northern crew.
“The Pambula Masters ladies also struggled to handle the conditions and withdrew around the halfway point,” Race Director Andrew Edmunds said.
“That’s a real shame for them as they had been undefeated to date, but the Warriewood ladies were deserving winners of the Masters ladies after a courageous effort.”
The Pambula crew had been undefeated until the day five leg and will look for redemption on the club’s homeward leg on Friday.
Conditions have improved since Wednesday, but organisers said further changes to the course might still be possible.
Tathra open men’s sweep Scott Meaker said it was disappointing any time the race didn’t follow “the true George Bass course”, but said safety concerns were paramount.
For the second event in a row, the crew will miss rowing in to its home beach at Tathra, unless a proposed reverse leg goes ahead on Friday.
GEORGE BASS MARATHON DAY 5 RESULTS
Skis: 6 – 1
6. Ed Gwynne DNF
5. Chris Ryan 1:22:27
4. Craig Vipond 1:12:28
3. Andrew Stone 1:12:26
2. Nik Ziviani 1:03:50
1. Stew O’Regan 1:02:53
4. Anglesea Lay Day
4. Broulee Bats Lay Day
2. Pambula DNF
1. Warriewood 2:34:54
4. Wollongong City Lay Day
3. Moruya/Long Reef 2:21:16
2. Met Caloundra 2:05:13
1. Broulee Capitals 2:00:23
7. Pambula/Tathra Jnrs 2:09:59
6. Yeppoon Slsc 1:50:38
5. Tathra 1:49:42
4. Bulli 1:48:07
3. Tallabudgera 1:43:46
2. Nth Cronulla 1:39:38
1. Narooma 1:38:46
5. Pambula 1:49:53
4. Long Reef 1:42:58
3. Coogee 1:37:29
2. Moruya Vikings 1:36:16
1. Bulli 1:35:04
Today's briefing will be held at event sponsors the Tathra Country Club at 4pm
More info, results and videos to come.