Surf boats are an integral part of the Surf Life Saving culture, and each year the Boat area provides some of the greatest action on the beach at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
Elton Mackay is a true ‘boatie’, having competed in his first surf boats event at the 1988 Aussies.
“My first Aussies was 1988 on the Cronulla Sutherland beaches as a Junior Boat Rower, I was then lucky enough to be part of South Curl Curl team that won the Australian Junior Boat Championships at Burleigh Heads in 1989,” Mackay said.
“As a competitor, I only ever made one Australian Men’s Open Surf Boat final, and the starter put us under a wave,” he said.
“I thought…’bugger this I’m going to become a starter to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else!”
Mackay now finds himself on the other side of the line, and after making the transition to being a starter 10 years ago has never looked back.
“My first year of starting I was privileged to be able to start the Under 23 Men’s and Women’s surf boat finals,” Mackay said.
“It’s always great to watch the rivalry in surf boats, especially in the Open Women’s between South Curl Curl, Avoca and Mooloolaba,’ he said.
“We feel privileged as starters to do what we love and be able to stay involved in the sport, we always walk off the beach saying we have done the best jobs we can do for the competitors.”
Despite being a die-hard Boatie, Mackay said he just looks forward to being a part of the whole Surf Life Saving culture at Aussies each year.
“It is the pinnacle – the culmination of nine to 10 months of training, not only as a team but against each other,” Mackay said.
“But it’s always also good to catch up with lifelong friends, and people you might not have seen since Aussies in the previous year, but it always feels like you only just saw them yesterday.”
Mackay encouraged anyone thinking about getting involved as a surf boat starter to do so.
“We welcome anyone that is thinking of helping out on the beach, we are always looking for new starters.”