George Bass Marathon in rough seas

The Tathra men's team headed up by sweep Buff Britten makes a landing at Pambula Beach during day six of last year's George Bass Marathon.
The Tathra men's team headed up by sweep Buff Britten makes a landing at Pambula Beach during day six of last year's George Bass Marathon.

THINGS are not looking up for the planned 2016 George Bass Surfboat Marathon, but all is not lost yet.

There have been difficulties coordinating an organising committee for the event and the Far South Coast branch of Lifesaving Australia was forced to make the difficult call to suspend preparations until next year.

Narooma-based surf lifesaver and four-time competitor of the George Bass Steve Dobson said there had been a show of support for the event, but nothing has been finalised.

“Due to a lack of organising staff the branch made a decision to postpone it, but since then we’ve had a few interested parties who are hoping to form a committee to actually run it,” Mr Dobson said.

The branch will meet in February to discuss whether hosting the event in 2016 as usual would be viable.

FSC branch president Tony Rettke said the 2016 event looks to be off for all intents and purposes, but declined to comment until after the February meeting.

“Nothing has been finalised,” Mr Rettke said.

A lifesaver at Tathra, Mr Rettke said the event is difficult to run, but had become iconic with the local club and Moruya including teams in each event of the Bass’s 40-year history.

Mr Dobson has managed two teams in the event and said despite the large costs involved in both entering and running the event, it is “money well spent”.

“We feed the camp and the crews, then there is petrol for the rubber duckies, petrol for the support boats and petrol for the cars to tow them all … it all adds up.”

However, he said the benefits of the event far outweigh any pitfalls and had also found huge support from the local community.

“We have tremendous support from businesses that offsets the costs involved.

“There is a real community supporting community atmosphere.”

There are flow-on effects for the wider community, too, as nearly 300 support crew travel with teams and up to 2000 supporters flock to beaches for the launch and finish of daily races.

Mr Dobson joked that club members were “far too busy” to run any barbecues or canteens during the event, but local cafes and kiosks benefitted greatly.

Rumours have abounded that if the race faces difficulty now, it could be difficult to get running again, which Mr Dobson said would be a huge shame.

“It would be very disappointing … our club has supported the event since it’s inception.

“It’s a real boost for our club when we organise our boat crews, we get about 45 people involved in the support and back up.

“It’s a huge bonding experience, you put 45 people in camp together for a week, you really get to know everyone,” he said.

Mr Dobson is one of a number of lifesavers hoping the next branch meeting has a positive outcome as the event remains in doubt until a committee could be formed.

“It would be the first thing on the agenda I think,” Mr Dobson said.


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