Surfboat rowers complete Bass Strait journey to raise money for Humor Foundation

After a 350-kilometer journey filled with rips, blisters, seasickness and sharks, a group of men has achieved a world-record feat of crossing Bass Strait in a surfboat.

The Miles for Smiles rowers sailed from Port Albert in Victoria on January 24 with the aim of arriving at Musselroe Bay in Tasmania within 14 days.

It was never a race but the crew exceeded their own expectations by completing the crossing in eight days.

“We’re super, super excited about what we’ve been able to achieve,” co-sweep Rob Pollock said.

“It ain’t been easy – this ain’t smooth water, this ain’t just rainbows and lollipops, and that’s what these guys wanted.

Iceland hopping

The journey was divided into six legs, with the crew camping on islands along the way.

A map of Bass Strait.
The rowers are over the moon after completing the challenging journey.(Supplied: Humor Foundation)

The group consisted of experienced rowers aged between 40 and 60 from Sydney, the Gold Coast, Narooma and Moruya.

Ten men rotated shifts in the surfboat, which could only fit four rowers and one sweep at a time.

They rowed for four to seven hours a day.

A man in a green kayak in the middle of the ocean.
Jack Patison accompanied the robbers in his ski paddler.(Supplied: Rob Pollock)

The robbers were Andrew Lawson, Beau Dredge, Wes Dredge, Braden Fleming, Joe Isaacs, Travis Latter, Rod Patmore and Phil Vial, while Brendon Constable and Robert “Polly” Pollock interchanged as co-sweeps.

Jack Patison accompanied the surfboat in his own surf ski and completed the route on his own.

A chartered catamaran was also present to carry supplies and the crew’s videographer, Kai Latter.

‘Everything and more’

Bass Strait has a reputation of being tumultuous and unpredictable.

The crew was prepared for a tough slog, but at times struggled to row to islands because the swell or currents were so fierce.

A hand with bloodied blisters on the fingers.
The robbers experienced seasickness, exhaustion, hypothermia and blisters.(Supplied: Karen Latter)

On the first day many succumbed to seasickness and along the way suffered from blisters, exhaustion and even hypothermia.

“It’s everything and more of what we thought it would be,” Mr Pollock said.

“Bass Strait’s amazing, but there’s so many variables out here that you would not believe.

A surfboat rowing past a huge rock face.
The rowers completed the 350-kilometer journey from Victoria to Tasmania in six legs.(Supplied: Rob Pollock)

Although they are delighted with their achievement, rowers are quick to remember the real reason why they decided to take on Bass Strait – to raise money for the Humor Foundation.

“These guys do a fantastic job to put a smile on kids faces… and take their minds off things,” co-sweep Brendan Constable said.


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