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The Rock-itt : January 2012
Carnage, carnage ... and worse carnage! The annual 20 Beaches surf ski race on 17 December was tough enough in its trip up the coast from Harbord to Palm Beach but when the paddlers tried to com e in through the huge surf to the finish, well, that was when it got chaotic. Breakers 2 metres high spat expensive ocean racing skis out like champagne corks, spearing them high into the air. Competitors were flung away like discarded dolls, rolled and pumm elled in the boiling surf. The air was filled with “ooohs”and aaahs” from spectators lining the beach as the attrition rate worsened. The sight of a ski hanging precariously at the crest of a big wave, its nose dipped at an alarming angle as its paddler sensed impending doom, had everyone holding their breath. Then came the crash, with everything disappearing into a mass of foam before the ski was hurled skywards. It was a scene repeated over and over as exhausted racers fought desperately to find a way through the tormenting surf to the security of the beach. Some were able to guide their craft safely through the waves, others were thrown into the water but able to hang on to their skis as they bounced their way to the beach. Many abandoned their craft and swam through the nasty shore break to run up the beach and through the finishing arch. The iconic race, one of the oldest on the Australian calendar, is run by Surf Life Saving Sydney Northern Beaches and was sponsored by Vajda Surf Skis. It is the most popular race of its kind on the east coast and is held each year just before Christmas. It is a downwind race between Harbord and Palm Beach, with the direction being dictated by the wind on the day. This year it featured a head-to-head clash Winner Clint Robinson carries his ski up the beach to the finish Tim Jacobs glides in to take second place Double skis finishing in style A paddler abandons his ski and swims for the finish