Spectators flock to craft carnival
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
THERE was barely a spare grain of sand to find at Park Beach on the weekend as huge numbers flocked to Coffs Harbour Surf Club's 33rd annual Surfcraft Carnival.
With boats for 210 crews and countless surf skis strewn along the shoreline, more than 1000 competitors plus support crew, officials and an estimated 1000 spectators over the course of the weekend, it was almost a case of standing room only.
Windy conditions on Saturday made life difficult for rowers but when the finals came around at lunchtime yesterday, conditions were ideal.
According to carnival co-ordinator Tony Mutkins, it was a perfect finish to what he thought was a perfect event.
"It's been a fantastic weekend," he said.
"It's been so well run and it has been a credit to the officials and all the people who helped.
"We got off the beach in good time, the racing was very close in the finals and it was extremely good to watch."
The local teams that competed in the spectacular boat races didn't walk away with any of the spoils that were on offer over the course of the carnival.
Woolgoolga were the pre-race favourites in the Masters section having won the title for eight of the last nine years but surprisingly, this year the crew failed to even reach the final.
North Cronulla took out that event.
The Coffs Harbour girls in the Open women's section didn't get the glory they were hoping for on their home beach but there was enormous satisfaction among many of the of the Coffs Surf Life Saving Club members about the crew reaching the final.
At next year's carnival, Mutkins has promised that the crowds will be even bigger.
"The Victorian crews didn't come up this year because the national titles are going to be in Western Australia and that's too much travel for them," he explained.
"They'll be back next year to make it even bigger again and we've had a very positive response from everyone who has been here over the weekend."