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Rough seas cause boat collisions

Exhausting: Boats and competitors were pulled out of the water in Round Seven of the North Coast Surf Boat series at Woolgoolga Beach on Saturday.
Exhausting: Boats and competitors were pulled out of the water in Round Seven of the North Coast Surf Boat series at Woolgoolga Beach on Saturday. Leigh Jensen

WAVES which up-ended surf boats, hurled craft backwards and left ‘a tangled mess’ of rowers, oars and boats saw Saturday’s craft carnival at Woolgoolga abandoned after only three heats.

Round Seven of the North Coast Surf Boat Series attracted boats and crews from as far away as Old Bar, Bonny Hills and Yamba but many did not reach the water.

The rough conditions saw several collisions, with the most serious between the Red Rock and Coffs Harbour boats resulting in serious damage to the Red Rock craft.

Brook Down, the President of the North Coast Surf Boat Series said the carnival referee’s decision to abandon the round after the first three heats was made on the basis of damage to craft and the safety of crews.

“Considering the crews in the senior grade reserves were not getting out and the open men’s were getting out but there was a lot of damage to craft, we thought there was no chance the Colts (under 23 men), Fillies (under 23 women) and juniors (under 19) would get out,” Mr Down said.

Racing was suspended after three heats for the referee to get feedback from the sweeps.

“The size of the waves was not the problem, it was the depth of the water, with waves breaking in quite shallow water with reasonable speed, leading to a very powerful, very steep-faced wave, tubing and dumping,” Mr Down said.

“It is an extreme sport, it is man versus sea but there is a lot of pressure on the carnival referee to determine if it is safe, especially since the death of Justin Bird last year and we all support the ref.”

No injuries were reported.