20 Beaches organizer responds to complaints

Brett Greenwood, Event Organizer for the 20 Beaches Surfski race took the time to respond to complaints regarding the recent issues involving the December 15th, event.

20 Beaches 2015

As the Event Manager, I regret the way things panned out at the start of the 20 Beaches on Saturday 12th December. We can understand that it was disappointing for many of the paddlers. But it was as disappointing to us having put so much effort into the planning and running of the race. Rest assured, any lessons we can take out of this we will. There is a Risk Management Plan in place relating to the event and it was largely successful given that there was no loss or injury. That is our first priority. Other parties not under our control also affected the outcome as you will see below. I have listed the unfolding of events to illustrate to you the factors which contributed to the outcome. I do this with humility, not trying to lay blame or deny responsibility. I just want you to understand what happened on Saturday. Shortly after briefing paddlers started heading towards the beach and making their way past the break. Approximately 80 to 100 skis had successfully done this via a channel on the north end of Freshwater Beach. Large waves and possibly a lack of experience resulted in a ski against the rocks and several skis drifting south into the patrol area. The council lifeguard and patrol captain stopped all skis from entering the water as there was extreme concern for the safety of other beach users. We instructed our IRB’s that were loaded with the starting buoys to abandon the buoys and give all possible assistance to any skis that remained in the surf zone. The council lifeguard made it quite clear that if we did not employ all assets to control the wave zone he would deny access and stop the race. After negotiations with the council lifeguard it was agreed that 10 skis at a time could enter the water together and make their way out through the surf. All our IRB’s were then utilised to ensure this was carried out as safely as possible. Whilst this delay was happening the initial paddlers that left the beach earlier took it upon themselves to start a race. I believe these paddlers were fully aware there was no start boat but chose to start anyway. Once all paddlers were cleared off the beach a start line was established with the remaining paddlers and a start gun fired. Following that a start was also given for the Doubles and OC6. There was to be 3 distinct start waves for this race. Wave 1: SUP and All women on single skis Wave 2: All Men on single skis Wave 3: All Doubles and OC6 This was made clear via a newsletter on Friday evening to all online registrations and at briefing on the day. It is clear from the race photos we have been given that SUP’s, Women and some of the Men on single skis all left at the same time. We have no possible way of reliably establishing what time the initial group started or who was in this group so therefore a true winner cannot be established. As race organisers we cannot justify awarding paddlers who do the wrong thing, knowing it is wrong, so to be fair to everyone involved we will not be issuing prize money or results for the men on single skis. The prize money for these categories will be held by Paddle NSW for use at next year’s event. We believe the results for the Women, SUP’s Doubles and OC6 race to be correct, so prize money and results will be awarded to these categories. We will be in discussions over the next couple of months with the view of the start/ finish to return to the sheltered waters of Shelley Beach although this will incur additional cost due to the large council fees involved. Other alternatives will also be looked at. The major thing we believe compounded the problems on Saturday was starting the race on a surf break and the problems associated with it. I apologise to you, the paddlers who paddled the event on Saturday but especially those whose results were affected through no fault of their own.


Brett Greenwood Race Director