Tents frantically rose up from the sand last Saturday the 10th of February as many crews prepared for the annual Sydney Northern Beaches Branch Championship. Most of South Curly, however, was seemingly still asleep. Upon our arrival, seeing absolutely no signs of anyone from our club, peering through the masses of people whom had already set up, Owen, Brady and myself were baffled.

Jenny came running over to us and desperately pleaded that we sign in before 7 otherwise South Curly would not be able to compete. We did as we were told and as we dripped in sweat after running like a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck to the small beach shack that housed the officials, the clock ticked over to 7, our hearts stopped, could this be the end?

Brady calmly paced towards the shack, disappeared for about five minutes and then returned with news that would save the 5 crews of South Curly’s hopes of medals on this blisteringly hot day,
“Sign in is before 7:30, we still had half an hour”.

Relieved, we returned to the frenzied commotion of early morning tent construction and waited for some of our comrades to arrive. Finally, the blue and yellow bow of the Chicka majestically rose up over the dunes, brought by the Sneakys, finally some of our own people. The Slickers, Girlies and Indians followed, our army finally took shape as our other two boats arrived and the tent was set up quicker than I have seen before.

The Indians rowed first, followed by the Juniors and then the Girlies, in small conditions, still conditions.

The Straw Hats decided not to row in Open Women and only row in the relay, as Emma had a sore back.

Lamp’s first race featured neither of the other South Curly crews, whom faced each other in the second heat. Lamp came in with a first and the Sneaky Nuts jagged a win over the Slickers by pulling down a last minute wave from behind.

The Indians, coming from a recent block of intense training and many ‘Ocean Thunder’s’, found it hard to crack the top end of the competition, exiting the competition by the end of the round robin format.

The Girlies also didn’t make it to the finals because of injury, but must be commended for their efforts.

All three Junior crews from South Curly made it through to the final of the Junior division. Lamp chose alley 5, the Slickers chose 1 and the Sneakys chose 3. The crack of the gun signalled the beginning of the final and Ribsy’s choice of alley number 1 gave the Slickers a bit of a head start as they edged through the breaking waves relatively untouched. Behind, Lamp began to edge their way towards the Slickers out to sea, ending up on the same wave returning to shore. The Slickers were given first, a token of their consistent training, Lamp second and the Sneakys, in their first proper year of rowing, were given sixth.

Moving onto the last event of the day, the Relay, The Straw Hats, Indians and Lamp prepared for a tough heat, matched up against the very strong crew of Mona Vale. The Indians boasted a great row, setting up Lamp, whom held the lead, the Straw Hats strongly finished the race in first and South Curly had made the final.

We knew that the final would be tough, and with an amazing row by the Indians, beating the Palm Beach A crew that had just won the Branch Carnival in Open Men, Lamp held first placed, and in a situation similar to our heat, gave the Straw Hats the lead and they strongly finished their leg, with South Curly winning convincingly and being crowned the 2017 Relay champions of Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

All in all, it was a successful day, with our crews getting a glimpse at some of the competition, where they are at with their own training and fitness, and a taste test of what is to come this rowing season. Things are looking bright for our yellow and blue army, with ASRL, Pacific Palms, State and Aussies not too far away, big things should be expected from every crew this year.

Kris Martyn