The Rip is a notorious stretch of water at the entrance to Port Philip Bay on the south eastern coast of Australia. It is narrow, with a distance of only 3.2kms between Point Nepean on the eastern side and Point Lonsdale on the western side. It is also deep (especially in the middle) and has very strong tidal streams which conflict with swell rolling in from Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. It is a challenge for ships, a positive hazard for boats and a total no-go zone for swimmers, until 1971 when Doug Mew became the first to swim the Rip. The number of people who have swum the Rip remains small.
Today six women from Apollo Bay, every one of them an experienced and fit ocean swimmer, had an appointment with the Rip between the low and high tides (or more accurately, on the slack water after the tide finished going out, which is around 2-3 hours after the forecast low tide time) to jump off a boat just inside the heads off Point Nepean with a plan to swim straight across the Rip to the beach near the Point Lonsdale lighthouse. They were to be accompanied by an experienced kayak paddler, with other boats in the vicinity as a safety backup. They were one of a number of groups doing this swim today.
The weather omens were positive this week. From about mid-week it looked increasingly likely that there would be small swell, a gentle south easterly wind (which is a following wind for the swim) and otherwise good weather – highly favourable conditions for a one-way downwind current assisted swim in pleasant weather.
These were the reasons for the optimism earlier in the week – a slow moving high was forecast to be positioned and shaped as shown, and the wind forecast (I use the Windy app) for the heads was a 9 knot south easterly. The forecast gust maximum was 15 knots, but early in the morning with a high pressure system dominating the weather, such gusts were unlikely. When I arrived at Point Lonsdale, conditions were as forecast. By the time I arrived the swimmers were all wetsuited up and doing the short boat trip from Queenscliff to their deep water drop off point.
There is an elevated lookout at Point Lonsdale from which I was able, with a telephoto lens, to see the boats at the drop off point over 3kms away. The kayakers were in the water waiting for their respective swimming groups to enter the water upon a signal for the swim to begin. This swim is not a race.
The admin table on the beach. Rip Swim staffer and English Channel swimming legend Don Riddington who did that swim at the age of 68, and at that time was the oldest Australian (and the third oldest person ever) to swim the Channel. Don and others looking intently out to sea as the first swimmers came into view.
The Apollo Bay 2020 Rip swimming team: Heather, Jenny, Mary, Michelle, Susie & Sonja, and Andrew, their kayak paddler for the swim.
Sonja’s Garmin watch tells the simple story: 3.2kms swum in 1 hour and 2 minutes, at a pace of 1:55/100m. The last of the outgoing tide would have provided a following current for part of the swim.
Great work you six! You did yourselves and the Apollo Bay ocean swimmers proud.
7 thoughts on “Six Apollo Bay ocean swimmers swam across the Rip today”
and you call that only “textured” John; I wonder what those intrepid ladies called it – I know what I’d call it, “where’s the boat?”
please pass on my best to those extraordinary women
best wishes to all, Richard
LikeLiked by 1 person
Richard, I think the consensus was that it was an enjoyable one-way downwind swim.
Thanks for taking the time to write this lovely account of friends sharing a memorable and exciting experience!!
LikeLiked by 1 person
My pleasure Grant. The Apollo Bay 6 who swam the Rip are good friends of mine. I’ve been swimming in the sea regularly with them at Apollo Bay for some years now. It was a pleasure to see them reap the reward of their solid and disciplined training.
I still recall my 26 February 2017 swim very clearly. I swam with Eugene Docherty, Dick Williams, Susan Berg, Clive Williams and Chris Clarke. Keep up the good work Grant.
Rip Swimmer 235.
RESPECT Ladies, the Rip is a REAL swim – 1/10th scale model of the English Channel, hint, hint – a relay maybe???
Great to catch up with Ripper John. Thanks for the detailed report n great pics. Cheers D
LikeLiked by 1 person
A tale of six strong and united swimmers by a chronicler experienced in all the elements.
A pleasure to read this nuanced account John and the photographs are superb. That shot through the bowels of the Point Lonsdale jetty arouse images of sturdy men felling those giant local gums and labouring to affix them at low tide. What a feat. Your swimming friends must have been thrilled to see their teamwork recorded for posterity.