Team Navy surf boat series strengthens community links

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Dave Devlin (author)

Location(s): Mollymook Beach, NSW

Topic(s): Team Navy, Australian Surf Rowers League (ASRL), Surf Rowing

L-R: Sub Lieutenant Barton Heeney, Commander Brad Mackay and Sub Lieutenant Thomas Goodwin of HMAS Albatross prepare to take part in the Team Navy Australian Surf Rowers League Open at Mollymook Beach on the NSW South Coast. (photo: )
L-R: Sub Lieutenant Barton Heeney, Commander Brad Mackay and Sub Lieutenant Thomas Goodwin of HMAS Albatross prepare to take part in the Team Navy Australian Surf Rowers League Open at Mollymook Beach on the NSW South Coast.

Navy’s ongoing partnership with the Australian Surf Rowers League (ASRL) has continued for a 12th year with support to Australia’s premier surf boat event.

The 2020 Team Navy Australian Surf Rowers League Open was recently held at Mollymook Beach.

The event, the largest stand-alone surf boat racing event in Australia, attracted almost 348 surfboat crews from 86 surf lifesaving clubs and thousands of surf lifesavers from across the country and across the Tasman, competing in three days of exhilarating racing across nine different categories.

Team Navy support to this event started with humble beginnings in 2008 with only 300 surf rowers and 60 crews and has grown in size each year.

Surf Boat racing in Australia is in its 100th year, with this year’s series consisting of 24 events at some of Australia’s premier beaches, ending on the NSW South Coast.

Director of Navy Reputation Management, Commander Christina Ween said Navy’s association with the ASRL allows surf lifesaving clubs to compete all across Australia and also boosts Navy’s profile, helping to gain community support for both Navy and Surf Lifesaving.

“By nurturing the sport, Navy provides the Australian Surf Rowers League with the necessary resources to assist them in recruiting and training lifesavers, both male and female,” Commander Ween said.

“Just like our Navy helps to protect Australia’s maritime approaches and our coastline, the Australian Surf Rowers League and Surf Lifesavers protect the shores and fabulous beaches of every state and territory around the country.”

President of the ASRL, Mr Michael Brooks, said the importance of the relationship could not be underestimated.

“The more lifesavers we have patrolling the water, the more lives that are saved,” Mr Brooks said.

“The partnership we have with Team Navy directly contributes to the continuing growth of the sport.

“The ASRL has more than 3000 volunteer members from across 260 clubs competing in surf boat competitions throughout Australia.

“This event helps to bring thousands of visitors to the region whether they are competing, supporting or spectating.

“The exciting three day event has brought much needed economy and tourism to the beautiful South Coast of NSW after the ravaging fires in recent months,” he said.

Commander Brad Mackay from HMAS Albatross has been competing in the Surf Rowing League for more than 10 years. He said it’s a truly exhilarating sport that requires every ounce of your leg and core strengths. 

“I’m also a surf lifesaver and often patrol the Gerringong and North Bondi beach areas,” Commander Mackay said.

“To compete in surf boat racing you need to be fit - it’s fast and intense and a ton of fun.

“Just like serving in the Navy, it requires teamwork and good communication skills. It teaches you to handle pressure and build resilience,” he said.

Team Navy is set to continue the partnership with the ASRL for the foreseeable future and build on the community links events like this has created.