Training on Lake Burley Griffin proves secret to success for city slickers’ surf boat team



December 02, 2018 08:00:00

Huge swells and crashing waves are what you might expect from surf boat racing.

But for Canberra-based surf boat crews, training on the calm waters of Lake Burley Griffin has proved to deliver the winning formula.

At the world lifesaving championships in Adelaide last month, two Canberra masters teams defeated coastal teams from all over the world to win gold in their classes.

And while coastal teams might not like being beaten by their inland rivals, the Canberra crew has discovered their training base to be a secret weapon.

“The coast teams get large waves, storms and other things that they have to adjust to, so they’re slightly better in those sorts of conditions,” club coach and sweep Gary Pettigrove said.

“But we get to row good technique every single day.”

Two Canberra masters crews, the men’s over 45s and women’s over 30s, took home gold from the world championships.

“We do a lot of simulated races off the beach here,” women’s coach Jaymi Matthews said.

“But it’s also rowing in different conditions, so wind, rain and just getting the girls used to the different conditions they might experience without the surf.”

Coast trip once a month

Five mornings a week, the Broulee Capitals get up in the dark to train on the lake before work.

Just once a month they venture to the coast.

“We do try and get out here when it’s choppy, so unless it’s teeming rain and unsafe, we’re out here on the lake for training,” Mr Pettigrove said.

The conditions at the world championship had been similar to what they had been used to on the lake, Ms Matthews added.

“It was more choppy and windy rather than a giant ocean swell,” she said.

A close bond

The five-person crews, including the sweep, rely heavily on each other not to miss training.

“As a crew you get really close because in the ocean it can be quite dangerous,” Ms Mathews said.

“You have to be very close as a crew and you have to rely on each other, not just for training but also for survivability in the ocean.

“We’re all professionals in our work outside of this and we all have families, so balancing that and training requirements can be quite tough.”

For these Canberra crews the early starts and the hard slog are worth it when they finish in front.

“The buzz comes when you hit the line and you look around and you’re the first crew and it gets very emotional for me,” Mr Pettigrove said.





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