Surfboat rowing is very much a team sport, you have to rely on every one of your team mates, not only to get you back to the beach first in the race but to get you back there in one piece. One reason spectators love the boats is for the spectacular sights of boats going and to sea and returning in a big swell.
Surfboats generally weight around 200kgs, without the oars or crew in it. The crew is made up of four rowers and the sweep. He’s the guy who stands up the back and steers and usually doubles as the coach. So add together one boat, one crew and five oars for good luck and that’s a lot of weight heading down that wave towards you.
In the earlier days of surf lifesaving, the boats were used to rescue swimmers in trouble that the belt swimmers couldn’t reach. This is where the gung-ho image comes from, the boats would regularly brave big seas to rescue bathers in trouble and also patrol for sharks. When used for patrol duty, it was compulsory for many years for the boats to carry a harpoon. Since the advent of the IRBs (Inflatable Rescue Boats), the surfboats have been retired from active duty.
Terrigal currently fields 10 crews in the surfboat arena, Open Men, Open Women, Reserve Grade Men, Under twenty ones and under nineteens. Training is quite intense with 3-4 sessions in the boat each week as well as strength and cross training for fitness.