Sunday 9 April and, at last, nearly two weeks in, a perfect Yamba autumn day. Blue skies, half-horsepower sunshine (17 rising to 25), the sea mostly blue, except where the storms have ruffled the sea bed, and lovely big white-toothed waves crashing on to the beach. Perfect.
Why perfect? Well, it’s grand to look at, but today was An Occasion. The Yamba Surf Lifesaving Club was holding its senior championships and our Harry was coming down to take part. So I got rid of breakfast, the mail etcetera and, at 10.45, I waddled the 50 metres down the hill to Main Beach. The beach was practically empty a week ago, now it was thronged with people and surfboards and body boards and cricket players. Something like the dream beach of a century ago. With hardly a knotted hanky or a scarlet woman bulging out of a one-piece anywhere. Children playing, running … dream children … no screams and tantrums, just little ones having a fine time.
Lesson (1) buy a hat. I was the only person with no hair without one. I had to retire to the shady shelter of the surf club: only to find I’d plonked myself right in front of the board room.
Surprise (1) ‘Senior’ in surfing is 18 and over. So Harry was competing against … Big Joe! His Dad! Who seems to have trimmed marvellously since last year.
Lesson and surprise (2) Watching surf competition live, even from the clubhouse, is sooooo much more enjoyable and exciting than watching it on telly. I guess that’s the truth for most sports.
So: on to the racing. Heat One: the board. Out past the breakers round two buoys and back. Easy? Oh no. Predictable? Far from it! For safety reasons, the whole field wears the same cerise jacket, which is hell for picking out who’s leading, but three swimmers passed the buoy together. Joe seemed to have gone er … slightly wide. The three entered the home waves together, and one took the right wave. Come on Harry, 2nd! But disaster! The leader got into the shallows and splat! And while Joe was steaming home out wide, Harry mastered his remaining rival in the run up the beach: Harry1st, Joe fourth.
Next heat: 'ski'. Same course, this time with canoe paddles. The waves won this one. Joe capsised once, Harry twice. Some folk were still trying to get OUT through the breakers when the leaders were coming back.
Trying to identify the boys from their hairdos … I think Harry was second.
Third heat, another variation on the theme. Thrills and spills all over the place … and this time Joe waved the Fahey flag with a smooth second…
Finally, the fourth heat. The whole lot in succession. This was a race won at the start. Mr Whiteboard skittled straight over the outgoing waves and opened up a vast lead before his opponents had cleared the turbulent water. In the conditions, keeping to the rules was hard work, and there were a couple of DSQs, but our Harry, in spite of inevitable mishaps, made up much ground for 3rd. And Joe … oh, heck, where was Captain Joe? Well, blow me down, there he was holding the finish banner. I thought we had been one short at the start!
And to top it all, Harry took out the beach sprint and something called a ’snake race’. It was all such plain, unvarnished glorious fun!
A delicious and delightful two hours (Mia brought me a plastic chair, which added greatly to the grandstand comfort), I’m just sad that the Yamba Surf Carnival only takes place once a year. And I’m glad I saw it this year, in today’s conditions of sea, sun, wild surf and Sunday.
And, of course, it helps when the family is starring!
Sunset celebrations at Fusion on the Hill …