Surf boat rowers 'just old blokes doing what they love’
WHEN you think of old people bonding you tend to think of tea and biscuits, but a group of rowers in their 60s and 70s have their sights set on something more rigorous.
After departing from the Crown Hotel at 9am on Saturday, the 27 men rowed down to Yamba, a trip more than 60km.
Warren Molloy, a 79-year-old former police officer from Nymboida who rowed during his time in Sydney, is one of the organisers of the group.
"Surf boat rowers create a sort of fraternity, we've all rowed with each other or against each other and we've all become friends," he said.
"We're too old for racing anymore, but we still row for exercise, so we got together and we've decided to row all the rivers on the north coast."
The group began their odyssey last year in the Mid North Coast, when they took to the water near Taree.
"Last year we rowed the Manning, and that was good fun, this year is the Clarence and next year will be the Hastings' turn," Mr Molloy said.
"We've always wanted to row the Clarence together; it's a great river for rowing."
Despite including veteran rowers from Woolgoolga, Hawks Nest and Sydney making the trip, it's two Grafton-born rowers, David Baldwin and Robert Burgess, with the most impressive records.
"I went to school with David and Robert, and after they left Grafton they ended up winning championships in surf boating," Mr Molloy said, "David has represented Australia in surf life saving contests in places like New Zealand, while Robert is in the Australian Surf Rower's League Hall of Fame.
"They've done very well for themselves over the years."
In April of this year Mr Baldwin and Mr Burgess werea part of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli, where they took part in a 50 surfboat commemorative row made up of crews from Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Great Britain and France.
The journey to Yamba is expected to take the group seven hours, with stops in Ulmarra and Maclean. Mr Malloy expects them to do 10kms an hour, but the group isn't looking to make record time.
"These trips are for camaraderie, its nice for old friends to get together and row with each other again," Mr Malloy said, "We get to keep the boys together and keep up our interest in the sport."
"Its just old blokes doing what they love."