Surfboating is a shore thing for this dentist

Photography: Max Polley (portrait), Robert Kaldor (surfboat)

The siren call of surfboating sees Dr David Farrington of Pymble Dental Practice in NSWat the beach and ready to compete every summer weekend. By Frank Leggett

“While at dental school, I moved to the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, became a lifesaver and joined the Bronte surfboat crew. I was at Bronte for about three years then moved to North Bondi where I rowed for about five years. Last year, I moved to the Northern Beaches and changed to Newport.

“Surfboat rowing is a very competitive sport. Just about every beach in Australia has at least one or two surfboat teams. There’s a carnival and competition most Saturdays between December and April. It requires a lot of travel up and down the coast, and sometimes even a trip to Perth.

surfboating“We train three or four times a week on the water and a couple of times a week in the gym. The boats are big and heavy but very ergonomically designed. It can take a very short amount of time to finish a race if the conditions are right.

“The race starts on the beach and we jump into the boat when the gun goes off. There are six boats per race and they must turn around designated buoys about 500 metres out to sea. Once the boat is around the buoy, it’s a race back to the shore. You can compete in up to eight races per day.

“The ideal situation is to catch a wave soon after the turn but that’s a fairly tricky thing to do. If the boat rolls over, spins or is swamped then the team is disqualified.

“I’m mildly competitive and have won and placed in various carnivals over the years. However, a medal from the Australian titles has eluded me.

“Surfboating brings out a philosophical side in many competitors as it’s very common for good crews to get knocked out early in competitions. The vast majority of surfboat rowers have a story of how an important race just slipped through their fingers.

“I’ve been rowing for nine years now and at the start of every season, I wonder if the previous season was my last. And every year, there’s something that draws me back into it. I guess it’s the camaraderie and the fact you
spend time in a healthy environment while getting fit at the same time.

“This year, my wife and I have just had a baby so I’m a little more uncertain whether I’m going to go again. But if I’m really honest, I’ll probably be roped in for one more season. I just can’t seem to give it up.”

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