After an early breakfast at the Vikings SLSC clubhouse, the troops gathered on the beach for a series of physical challenges. They included pushing a trailer-mounted jet ski across the sand for a hundred metres. In this domain of the Billabong Odyssey, the challengers need to not just be bona-fide ocean aware surfers, but iron men and women as well. After that workout the teams paired off for man on man challenges, or in Layne and Ken Bradshaw’s case, man on woman challenges. Each pair had to sprint 200m up the beach and across a low tide bank, and then plummet into a deep water hole and attempt to hold their breath as long as possible: lung capacity after sustained physical duress being the test.

For the record, Layne beat Ken in the beach sprint, while Joel Parkinson’s team mate Adrian ‘Ado’ Wiseman topped the breath holding efforts. Despite being, shall we say, a little beyond peak physical shape at the moment, Ado stayed under for 34 seconds. We might even be so bold as to suggest that his current waist measurement is excused via his obvious and liberal lung capacity (…and if that doesn’t get him into serious training, nothing will).

Next on the demanding schedule was a rescue relay. Pairing off once again, the patient bolting down the beach 100m with the ignition key to the driver waiting in knee depth water, skiis would be started before darting out 300m to sea where the patients would be dropped off. The driver would then continue a further 150m towards the horizon on the ski, round a buoy, and then collect his patient, before speeding back to the beach. The driver would then sprint up the beach, ignition key in hand, round a flag, and the whole process would be repeated. It was both exacting and amusing.

IN continuing perfect Gold Coast weather, the three day Billabong Odyssey Camp concluded today at Currumbin, with the international array of big wave challengers coming away much wiser and skilled practitioners. Today the focus for the big wave warriors was on endurance, speed and fitness. The surf continued to be tiny, but what the ocean lacked in tenacity, Layne Beachley and her otherwise male counterparts made up for with the measure of relentless commitment that the mission demands.

After the day’s activities came to an end, the group packed up and headed in all directions. Some headed home, some to Jeffreys Bay in South Africa for next week’s Billabong Pro, and some over to West Australia for a few weeks of hunting big wave locations in the Great Southern Ocean. Tahitian madman Vetea ‘Poto’ David commented in parting, “I’m going home for a couple of weeks to relax – unless there’s a hundred foot wave breaking somewhere on the globe!” Have you ever heard anyone say that before? Poto was serious. They all are!

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