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Grant isn't finished overhauling his sport. He and Porra, the surfboard paddling star, plan to start an Australian circuit of six or seven professional carnivals and professional marathon Ironman events a year. Most lifesavers agree it is an evolution long past due, but a few worry that so much seriousness may leech the sport's lifeblood.
"Hey, I remember us winning the New South Wales team race when I was a 12-year-old, and our club captain taking the four of us into Sydney to pick out whatever pro [prostitute] on the street we wanted," says 30-year-old Robbie Nay with a laugh. "Those were the good old days. My type of guy, who wants to have fun, will soon be phased out. I realized it when I walked down the beach at the '82 nationals. One Ironman was in his tent with a Walkman, listening to the Rocky theme to get psyched up. Another was getting a massage. Another was drinking his high-protein drink. None of them could come out into the sun; they had to conserve their energy. I wanted to have a beer with them after we competed—but the bastards don't drink!"
The boaties, God bless 'em, are doing their damnedest to keep the old torch ablaze. The Currumbin surf club's boat crews—one of them won the aforementioned madcap whitecap war at Kawana Waters, while another had the injured boatie—are a splendid example.
A few nights before the race, five club boaties—Senile, Schizo, Shark, Butterfly and Donuts—decided to polish off a two-hour workout with a visit to their local pub. The Currumbin boys stomped in single file, a hand on the shoulder of the man in front, chanting "Boom-chug-a-lug-a-lug-a, boom-chug-a-lug-a-lug-a"—and chug-a-lug-a'd for two hours. Returning to their club to find they had missed the 6 p.m. dinner, they looted the kitchen, then went up to the bunk room and heaved junior club members out of their beds.
"Anyone thirsty?" someone asked.
"Man is not a camel," replied Schizo, a 24-year-old Brisbane magistrate's clerk in his other life.
So it was back to the pub, where the Currumbin boaties broke into their club drinking song:
And now that we're
gathered around the bar,
Half an hour before the pub closed, the boaties responded to that imminent peril by slamming down eight beers each. At six the next morning they were rolling across the sea, their heads and muscles clogged, but their heritage affirmed.
Well, almost. "If it was 20 years ago," Schizo admitted, "we would have probably beat up a few bloody surfers."