Surfboat Rowing @ Tathra

A brief history of Surf Boats

Surf Boats have been part of surf lifesaving since the late 1890’s. Originally used as rescue craft, when a lifesaver on a belt and reel could not reach a swimmer in trouble, and often performed in rugged seas by crews with unwavering courage and strength.

Surf Boats for rescue were phased out with the introduction of the IRB (inflatable rescue boat), a quicker and more efficient vessel in 1969. By the time this happened surf boat competition had grown to be a truly Aussie sport.

Tathra SLSC has a long history in surf boat rowing, it acquired its first surf boat in 1932 and has had a small, but consistent contingent of surf boat rowers ever since. Tathra’s competition rowing has been varied, from short course surf boat races to marathon events.

The regular event on our calendar is the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon ( the longest and toughest surf boat race in the world, which is held biannually Tathra SLSC is one of only two clubs to have fielded a team in every George Bass Surf Boat Marathon (from the events inception in 1975 and have, on all occasions, relied solely on Tathra SLSC members).

Social Surf Boat Rowing

In the off season we introduce new rowers to the boat through social rowing. We work on improving skills and technique whilst still keeping a good level of fitness. It s a great way to get involved and test the waters to see if you enjoy surf boats.

NOTE: all rowers must have their Bronze medallion and be an active member of the club.

Competitive Surf Boat Rowing

We have Women’s and Men’s surf boat crews who have competed in both surf boat racing and surf boat marathons. What’s the difference you ask?

Surf Boat Racing is where crews start on the beach, row out through the breakers around a cann (about 400m out) and return through their allocated alley always hoping for a wave to the beach. The first boat past the finish line wins! It’s not always a smooth ride…

Surf Boat Marathons are a long haul rowing event. They can be a 10km+ single crew event through to the epic George Bass Surf Boat Marathon the longest and toughest surf boat race in the world: 190km in seven stages over seven days from Batemans Bay to Eden.

In recent years we’ve had both a Women’s and a Men’s crew competing in the George Bass Surf Boat Marathon.

To be able to participate in such a large scale event is no mean feat, not only is the event tough, the logistics are enormous it takes a group of committed volunteers to pull it off:

  • 16 rowers + reserves
  • 2 sweeps
  • 2 competition surfboats
  • 2 support boats drivers,
  • beach & ground crew members
  • bus + trailer
  • bus drivers
  • team cook

…and that’s only during the week of the race!

Tathra SLSC boaties are supported by the club and sponsored by several local businesses, without whom we would not make it to the start line.

You can follow the event via the live stream and see our daily photos on Instagram @tathtaslscboaties or Tathra SLSC Facebook.

2020 GBSBM Women’s Masters crew

2020 GBSBM Men’s Masters crew

2020 GBSBM Solo Surf Ski Paddler

Thanks for the support!

We thank our Surf Boat sponsors, both business and personal, for their valuable support!



  • Betta Electrical Bega
  • Bendy Kate’s Roadhouse Tathra
  • Jim Harris Plumbing
  • Rotary Club of Bega
  • Tathra Lions Club