Any Given Sunday in Sydney
When most of us think of surfing, sailing, and water sports Sydney, Australia, comes to mind. With its expansive beaches, constant ocean swells, and Tasmanian sea breezes. The real question is which came first - the Australian surf or the Australian surfer. A perfect match - the gutsy Aussie and no-worries attitude matched against rip-tides that sometimes spit back the captives and sharks that seem to be seeking revenge for all those years of shark'n'taters. So with word of the Australian Open of Surfing contest being held on Sunday, we thought to add to our Australian experience and take in Surf City (Manly Beach).
As well, a few others decided to join us (rock up) complete with every complement of food, skin screen test, Maui Jim sunglasses, and maybe a spot to park your frame on the expansive beach. We were taken aback by the sheer numbers of people and, in our minds, it looked more like a rock concert than a surf contest. Now, at the beach in Australia, 90% of everyone looks fit and trim. One might think there could easily be distractions from the surfing, but Australians are such dedicated sports enthusiasts that when a surf contestant pulls a smart move, everyone notices and hoots and howls (yeew!).
As you can see, Laura has picked her board prior to ripping it up. We managed some pretty good shots of living-legends surfers, representing our generation with lots of gray hair and some easy-living muscle tone. Truth of the matter, they just call us 'oldies'.
So it's a quick jump on the ferry from Manly to downtown Sydney, then off to Taronga Zoo. When we first sailed into Sydney we quickly became aware that ferries have the right of way. In other words, you had better stay out of their way! They move fast and are so numerous (heaps) that there always seems to be one bearing down on you. Now paint that picture with about 200 sailboats participating in various sailing regattas, booze cruises and general cooler (esky) diving. So here it is, flat out, boats everywhere! We counted at least four different regattas with probably twice as many courses, with the main tactical skill being avoiding other floating objects.
Probably the most impressive sailing fleet here is the Sydney 18 (ft) skiffs. These boat are likely the most athletic and difficult boat to sail in the world. Only here in Sydney. Like any skiff sailing, any maneuver is generally a hair's breath away from disaster or at least a good dunking.
Off our port stern is Gretel II. Build in 1970 for the America's Cup Challenge in Newport, RI. Now gracing Sydney Harbour as a reminder of a bygone era.
As the ferry drops us off at the zoo entrance, we decided to trek 6km along the edge of Sydney Harbour's shoreline through a nature reserve and park.
As we take a final bus to Cammeray Bay (where our boat is moored) we reflect on how Aussies have made so much of their watery environment. As I see it, their outgoing, easy manner is perfect fit for what nature has to offer. Why worry about all the nasties indigenous to Australia that can kill you (like snakes and sharks) when it is a beautiful day.
We love Sydney. We've been here for almost six weeks and still don't feel the need to move on. It' been a cracker stay!
PS On Sunday, one can travel anywhere in the greater Sydney area by bus, ferry and/or train for $2.50 (maximum for the entire day!).