Saturday, August 13, 2011

HOFFs Winter Wonderland

6th August

Albeit a winter’s day – several HOFFs swimmers gathered for a journey swim from Nobbys to Merewether – a fair distance (4.5km) to swim in the Winter waters. The swim developed from a Tweet, as many do for the HOFFs who use Twitter as their prime tribal drum to announce plans.

And on this day, the HOFFs were blessed with a visitation from the Siderney Big Smoke in the form of @oceanswims and @sparkleocean. Several souls gathered on the sands of Nobbys, some in neoprene, others newd. Jenni was there with camera taking the images that will immortalise the HOFFs adventures in the Hunter Ocean FF Swimming Hall of Fame. So the start consisted of Steve, Liz , Michael, Simon, Paul and Suanne, and Damien, who planned to join in at Bar Beach.

John (ie moi) paddled up from Merewether to escort the crew back. Air temp was slightly cool, but water was a pleasant 17-18 degrees. Nobbys is renowned for shallow reefs and rock ledges, which makes for an interesting swim. The swimmers casually took off from outside the iconic surf club – no rush here, no sound of the hooter, no argy bargy, just a bunch of ocean loving swimmers out for a winter’s stroll. Past the reef, we turned south around the rocky maze of reefs. It’s not a direct course, yet for some, who thought they were on a trans Tasman crossing to New Zealand, most stayed together, waiting for the slower swimmers to regroup. A small swell was running, but making it bouncy enough for a bit of entertainment and the odd bit of queeziness.

Around from Newcastle Baths, Simon departed, and we were left with five. Past the Bogey Hole, time to regroup and Paul educated us on interview etiquette and a brief history of WWII fortifications. Stinky has announced on 1233 that there was good fishing, so many tinnies were out and about presenting a hazard for swimmers. However, it was not only fisherman after a feed. Off Susan Gilmore, squeals of delight were heard as a pod of dolphins, on cue, swam past the HOFFs. The HOFFS and dolphins have a very special connection and through means of a services supply contract, will make a guest appearance when the HOFFs introduce special guests to their waters.

So for the last stretch, Damien joined the group and they trailed in towards the Swell CafĂ©. Another section of coast “ticked”. What a winter wonderland.. see the link below to view HOFFs and dolphins


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

HOFFS Rug Up for Winter

Star Date: 8th May

A rip swept beach met the HOFFs for their Saturday weekly swim. This isn’t so unusual for Merewether, which is renown for its express rip around the rocks at the south of the beach. It's a welcome feature for surfers and swimmers alike wanting a quick ride out the back. However, on Saturday it was a boiling surf and the rip was pulling from as far north as Pogo's.

Ahhhh....but I am distracted by the rip!

For, even more exciting than the boiling roiling ocean was the arrival of a red lipstick wearing Liz who produced from her bag, two snugly HOFF beanies for @wojobungo HOFF and @merfalyn HOFF who quickly became the envy of HOFFs and onlookers alike (you will understand this when you look at the picture)! Orders poured in for more HOFF beanies and the winter 'uniform' decision was made!

Due to the dangerous surf conditions a baths swim was decided upon and the HOFFs strolled south in the sun to the baths. A leisurely 500 warm up and then Michael, Liz and Kate teaming up against John, Jenny and Andrew in an evenly matched relay before being driven out of the baths by sea lice, cold (that happens when you spend too much time talking rather than swimming), a need to get back into the red beanie, and a yearning for coffee ...... Ahhhh...some things never change.

Stay tuned for more details of the HOFF handicap swim on May 21st followed by a BYO breakfast at Dixon Park!!

And's all about that feeling you get when you swim in the ocean....oh, ...and the coffee!!!

Photos courtesy Jenni Kaye; words by Kate

Monday, April 25, 2011

HOFFs World Record

Come Easter Saturday, and fresh from the reminder of the beautiful conditions of Friday - see Easter Treats - not one, not two but 19 Hoffs formed a pod at Merewether for another autumn swim. However, unlike the day before, the wind and swell had picked up and the boats were facing to the south-east.

We kicked off into the swell and did our compulsory gathering at the "steps in front of Dixon". There Kate (time for Coffee) rounded two-thirds of the crew up and lead them back to Swells. That left 5 of us slogging it out northwards - it soon became apparent that there was a strong southerly sweep. Outside Bar Beach SLSC, myself, Damien and Greg, turned around to head back only to find ourselves battling a strong rip on the return. This was a gentle reminder that we dealing with the sea and that it's not always a friendly ocean. Steve and Liz had decided to turn around, having noted the rip and make the hard run back. Once we broke free of the rip's grip, we were making some progress but having taken double the time to get to the small headland north of Dixon, we (3) decided to pull out to shore. We then watched out for Liz and Steve who bravely battled out the back and made the distance.

Then with the after swims tradition, we were treated to a display of dolphins surfing the break in front of the Swells Cafe, as if to say, well done, but we are the experts. Respect..

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Treats

Good Friday and there are choices. One can follow some bloke dragging a wooden cross through the streets while throwing rose petals ... or one can go ocean swimming with the HOFFs. On a bright sunny day with barely a swell, and a slight off shore breeze, the HOFFs gathered at their (coffee) watering hole to enjoy the autumn festivities.

10 Hoffs and 2 paddlers gathered. Like lemmings to the fold, they jumped from the Merewether Baths into the torquoise waters (omg, who writes this stuff??). Then on and on, they swam on, and stopped for a chat, then swam on, chat, swim, chat, swim, turn around, swim, chat, then coffee and chat.

Glorious weather conditions; dolphins out the back, great company and an expanding crowd, and yes, there's video...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Super Sunday - Terrigal Edition

Four swims on offer for Sunday 17th April – the choice was made easier for this HOFF with the postponement of Bondi.

Maitland Swimmer had already signed up for it, I was happy to be able to “have cake and eat it too” and participate as well.

Terrigal’s a great choice for a day when the conditions are rough elsewhere. Not saying it was easy and flat – there was still a bit of swell around, causing organizers to change the 2km course to a two lapper.

We met up with a few familiar faces – Cat McAlister (RealDealCat) up from the big smoke, and Col Booth – central coast local heading for a top 20 finish in the end-of-season swim tally. Also got chatting to John from Avoca, who swims with a group called The Lizards – they swim at Avoca every morning.

1km swim was the usual diamond-shaped course. A bit of swell heading north made sighting slightly tricky. Got caught in a battle of wills against a brick-shaped being in a black two-piece with the same coloured cap as me (ie, competition). Some punters are pretty rough to swim next to, and she was no exception. Got her on the run to the finish.

2km swim was changed from the usual oblong to 2 laps of a longer version of the 1km swim (hence not really 2km but a bargain nonetheless). On finishing my first lap I noticed a flash in a yellow cap to my right – it was Don Boland finishing the swim and winning overall.

Maitland Swimmer podiumed – given “equal third” at ceremony but we think he might have done a bit better than this. RealDealCat and I were robbed for a podium but enjoyed it anyway.

Celebrations continued on at the Cool Rock ice-cream bar for some, others found Terrigal to be a “Magnum-free-zone” and left, stopping at first petrol station in sight to fuel up.

And so, armed with an extra large pepsi max (to keep micro-sleeps at bay) and a choc bickie magnum (I swam for it), I headed back home for a nap.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hoffs Go Clubbin 2

(the picture I forgot; WJB :))

HOFFS Go Clubbin"

Sunday - April 10, Forster.

The HOFFs were well represented at the Club to Club swim held in Forster on Sunday. Present were...Warren, Robyn, Courtney, Steve and Liz (oh yeah, and me Kate!!).

For this HOFF, it was the first swim with no 'escape route'. Swims with 'Escape routes' are always reassuring - its nice to think, if I get tired, I'll just swim to the shore! NO such option for most of the Club to Club Swim!

The Club to Club swim is a near 4km swim from Cape Hawke SLSC to Forster Main Beach SLSC. The first part of the swim is along the white sand of One Mile beach and then its out around the headland for the long haul along the cliff faces, past Pebbly Beach out around a smaller headland to the waiting sausage sandwich at Main Beach.

The entry and exit to the swim were ideal; there was no big surf or shore dump to contend with. However, the swim along the cliffs meant a slog into a NE rolling swell with a bit of wind chop. Buoys were big, and well placed, but I'll be blowed if I could site them well as the rolling swell meant that they, along with the swimmers only 10m away disappeared behinds walls of water. Water safety was abundant with numerous paddlers, a reported 3 ducks and 7 jet skis (don't you love the smell of petrol fumes in the middle of a swim), so I think all swimmers felt pretty secure.

It was a long swim for all HOFFs except for Warren Smith HOFF who managed to win his age group in a speedy time. Special mention to 'The Platt HOFFs', with Courtney completing this swim in fine form - her second ever ocean swim and only on a couple of months of training, and Robyn 'I take my camera with me everywhere' HOFF completing her second camera laden swim (the first being Sydney Harbour). It's the first time I've watched someone finishing reaching down into their togs and pulling out a camera to shoot the finish line from 'the other side'!

HOFFs had approached this swim with trepidation....ringing in their ears were the words of WojoBungo HOFF..... 'Beware the things in the deep with sharp pointy teeth'......To WojoBungo we reply....TOUGHEN UP!!!! J

Photo's courtesy of Robyn Platt (aka camera girl HOFF) and Tom (Honorary HOFF and chief bag minder)