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.
- Co-sweep Rob Pollock said the group wanted a challenge and got it
- The men battled pain and sickness as they contended with Bass Strait’s notoriously tough conditions
- The money they raised will go to the Humor Foundation, a children’s charity
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.
The journey was divided into six legs, with the crew camping on islands along the way.
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.
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.
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.
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.