The 20th anniversary Winter Whales Byron Ocean Classic Swim had to be cancelled yesterday just 10 minutes before the event was about to start.
Some of the swimmers in the mini-swim that was finishing as the main swim was due to start had begun to get into difficulty when conditions in the water worsened.
‘The water conditions deteriorated off the full moon tide, so much so that there were waves breaking all over the place and the finishing line was a mess’, Winter Whales secretary Syl Reid told Echonetdaily.
‘The mini swim, with the tide dropping got a bit hairy but they all got in, they were all safe.’
Byron Surf Club, which provides lifesavers for the event, made the call with the full support of the organising committee.
‘Some people jumped in and went anyway, you can’t stop them but when they came back they said it was the correct decision,’ Syl said.
Neil Cameron, Byron Bay Surf Lifesaving Club president told local media, ‘there’s a point where we get into trouble trying to save other people, and people are still in the water needing rescuing, then that becomes a drama.’
‘We still had to provide water safety because some of them still needed to be picked up. Some of them could swim, admittedly, but we’ve got no idea of their capabilities,’ he said.
This week the organising committee will consider whether to rerun the race on June 3, though Syl said that regardless it is a disappointing result for ‘a lot of people come interstate who won’t be able to do it’.