Posts Tagged ‘water sports’

World Champion Free-Diver Presumed Dead

Molchanova image:

Natalia Molchanova, 53, arguably the world’s greatest ever free diver has failed to surface after a dinve in the Balearic Sea, near Spain.

Molchanova was diving on Sunday with three others on the coast of Formentera. Speaking with the New York Times her son Alexey said they do not expect to find her alive.

Free diving is a sport and competition in which individuals dive to the greatest possible depths without any breathing aids. Molchanova was diving to a depth of about 40 meters, much less than her word record of 101 metres set in May in Egypt.

Yet reports claim she was diving in an area notorious for its unpredictable currents. The water temperature was around 26 degrees Celsius, but further down this would become colder. Such sudden changes in temperature can possibly shock the body.

When Molchanova failed to surface her fellow divers began searching on their own; when this yielded nothing they called for help. Private boats and the Coast Guard, helicopters and eventually submersible robots were called in. But to no avail.

Molchanova holds 41 world records, has won the world championship in free diving 23 times, and can hold her breath for longer than 9 minutes.

The worldwide community of free divers are in mourning for a woman loved and respected by all.

Swimmer Aims for North Pacific Crossing


French endurance swimmer Ben Lecomte has set himself the incredible goal of swimming from Tokyo to San Francisco this summer.

He will swim eight hours each day. During this time he will endure hardships like jelly fish, sharks, sunburn, ocean currents, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a floating raft of debris the size of Texas.

Lecomte has previously swum across the Atlantic Ocean. That took him 73 days. This latest 8851 kilometre challenge will, he believes, test him to his limits.

Every moment of the swim is scheduled. “The last thing you want to do,” he told from his Dallas, Texas home, “is not know what you’re going to do with your mind.

“The first hour I relive any event, like a birthday party. The second hour is math exercise like counting or dividing numbers.

“The third one I try to visualise or imagine a place I have never been to, like Australia … I engage all my sense to disassociate my mind from my body.”

Mr Lecomte expects the ultra-marathon swim to take around six months. He says he is doing it to raise awareness of ocean degradation through human waste products.

“We want to show people what is around because 80 per cent of the plastic you find in the ocean comes from land. What you see on the surface [of the Great Pacific Patch] is only 15 per cent because 70 per cent is in the water column and the other 15 per cent is on the bottom.”

Mr Lecomte said that footage of his journey will be streamed live on social media.

He is expected to consume a staggering 8000 caleries each day. To fuel himself he will consume for large meals when not swimming and liquid meals while in the water.

But he I wary of health issues like tendonitits. The body is not built for six months of constant exercise.

Just like the ocean is not built to be a garbage dump.

Extreme 40s Coming to Sydney Harbour

Next week Sydney Harbour plays host to the eighth leg of the worldwide tour of Extreme 40s racing series.

What’s that? You ask.

Extreme 40s is sailing’s answer to speedway racing – including the crashes!

The series began in 2005 after the sailing fraternity acknowledged their sport was out of touch with most people. For too long competitive sailing has been perceived as belonging to a few wealthy, exclusive, class-ridden snobs; with much of the racing taking place without any audience at all – far out at sea.

Other, more inclusive, sports were reaping the benefit of appealing to greater numbers. And so it was decided to create a sailing series for the masses.

Enter Extreme 40s: Lots of high speed boats (sometimes reaching speeds of 60 km/ hour), crammed into in a short, tight course for a stadium stting. The boats are basically a super modified version of the Tornado class with a crew of four. They compete in multiple races of 20 minutes duration.

As you can imagine, there’s plenty of aggro, plenty of speed, and plenty of crashes. And believe me, when these boats hit one another they do damage.

Recently, in Qingdo, China, the Red Bull series leader attempted a risk manoeuvre to slip in front of Alinghi. It didn’t work. The portside hull of Red Bull drove into Alinghi like a knife, pinning the two together. At the speed they were travelling, I was incredible no one was injured.

“The first thought was to go in front of them,” Hagara, skipper of Red Bull told reporters.

“Just at the last moment I called ‘we are going in the back. We chose a little bit too late,’ he shrugged. “All we could do was get the gys in the back of the boat and … yeah, hold on.

“It was a big bang. But that’s the thing with multi-hulls, they’re very hard to manoeuvre, and if you’re too late, you have no steering anymore. You go straight.”

Pirates and Storms Warning for Second Leg of Volvo Ocean Race


The fleet racing in the Volvo ocean race are headed for trouble. Bad weather and the suggestion to be on the lookout for pirates has everone on edge.

Now in the second leg of the round-the-world race, the seven strong fleet has set out from Cape Town for Abu Dhabi.

Almost immediately they were battling into the teeth of a 35 knot gale. It was trying and sickening for all concerned.

The captain of Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright, wondered if “this could be the worst sea state these boats have ever seen.”

With 6125 nautical miles left of the leg they’d better get used to it. This leg is expected to take the fleet about a month, though should things get worse that expectation will change.



The fleet was given a warning by meteorologist Gonzalo Infante: “We have just started the tropical cyclone season in the south Indian Ocean and it seems like we will have plenty of this activity for this leg.”

The organisers have set an exclusion zone in an effort to shield them from the worst of the bad weather. Another exclusion zone near the East African coast, in the Indian Ocean, has been set up to keep them as far away from suspected pirate lairs as possible.

Nonetheless, there will be little sleep for many of them for the next month.

The Volvo Ocean Race is expected to take nine months to complete.

Sydney to Hobart Attracts Cream of the Crop

The 70th anniversary of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race will boast the largest line-up in the race’s history. Toeing the starting line will be five of the biggest, fastest (and most expensive) yachts in the world.

While the number of entrants won’t come near the race record of 371, set at the 50th anniversary in 1994; the 119 boats already exceeds the numbers in recent years.

Organisers have had to install a third tier on the start line. Without it the free-for-all for position can (and has) caused catastrophic collisions.

Perpetual Loyal. Image:

Perpetual Loyal. Image:

Anthony Bells 100-footer, Perpetual Loyal, is said to be taking on defending line honours champion Wild Oats. Also into the mix come Ragamuffin, Rio 100, and the newly built American yacht Comache. These five will be slicing through the water the Sydney water on Boxing Day and racing seriously for Hobart.

Mark Richards, skipper of Wild Oats and winner of seven line honours, said he was thrilled with the level and amount of competition. The boats are fast, the crews well trained and the skippers wily. It should be a great race.

Also declaring its intentions is Martin Power’ Bacardi (record holder for most Sydney to Hobarts raced), the 41 year-old Love & War, and the 80 year-old Maluka – a 30-foot tub, clearly the oldest and smallest vessel in the fleet.

Entrants hail from New Zealand, the Cayman Islands, the UK, Poland, Germany and the US.

Wild Oats xi. Image:

Wild Oats xi. Image:

Australian Kayaker Fails Random Drug Test

Tate Smith. Image:

Tate Smith. Image:

Gold medalling kayaker Tate Smith has failed a random drugs test.

The 32 year-old Gold Coaster is understood to have returned the positive test in a training camp in Hungary in July of this year.

Smith told News Corp he had recently begun a new supplements regimen and may have taken a prohibited substance accidentally.

Should Smith be found guilty of breaching the WADA prohibited substances code he will become Australia’s first Olympic gold medallist stripped of his medal for doping. Smith will be handed a standard two-year suspension from competitive kayaking.

But it doesn’t end there.

Initially Smith’s tests from the London Games returned a negative result. But British Olympic medical staff will now conduct a retrospective analysis of his frozen samples.

Should these also return a positive result not only Smith, but the entire four-man crew, may be stripped of their medals.

Greg Doyle, chief of Australian canoeing said, “Australian canoeing is unable to make any comment regarding matters that may be with ASADA until such time as the matter is finalised, in order to provide fairness to all persons involved.”

ASADA released a similar statement refusing to discuss their investigation.

Should he be found guilty, Smith will join fellow canoeist and Gold Coast Nathan Baggaley in being banned from competitive sport. Baggaley won two silver medals at the Athens games in 2004.

Opposition to Carney’s Bid to Play in European Super League

Disgraced Australian footballer Todd Carney may have been signed by the French side the Catalan Dragons, but his move to Super League is being vehemently opposed.

Leeds Rhinos rugby league boss Gary Hetherington believes allowing Carney into Super League will tarnish the game for all players. The UK newspaper the Sun has reported that Hetherington has emailed the bosses of other clubs in an attempt to block Carney from playing at the top level.

The Sun alleges Hetherington’s emails included: “We’d be appalled if his application was granted because it would damage the integrity and profile of Super League.”

Hetherington opposed the signing of Greg Bird to Catalan in 2009. Bird had recently been released from Cronulla over alleged assault charges. “It is disappointing that a club should want to sign him,” Hetherington said at the time. “Our competition cannot become a dumping ground for other people’s problems.”

10419978_822161377815941_602083928083827657_nCarney has been sacked from three NRL clubs and yet, incredibly, he has been offered the captaincy at the Dragons – pending his approval to play Super League.

Bernard Guasch, chairman of the Catalan Dragons, describes the signing of Carney as a coup. The club has in the past recruited players such as Stacey Jones, Steve Menzies and Greg Bird.

Carney, meanwhile, is clutching at a three-year deal with the Dragons in a last ditched effort to reviving his shattered footballing career.

Australian Rowing Gets Nasty Surprise at Lucerne

Australian rowing crews have been given a nasty surprise with a less than shining performance at the final regatta of the 2014 Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Australian team managed a mere three silver medals in an event dominated by New Zealand and English crews. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games this poor performance will have Australian coaches deliberating over last minute changes.

Rowing World Cup in Lucerne. Photo:

Rowing World Cup in Lucerne. Photo:

New Zealand won the series with 141 points. Victories from Olympic sculler Mahe Drysdale and world scull champions Erich Murray and Hamish Bond set the Kiwis up for a strong performance. Emma Twigg continued her ascendency, overpowering Australian Kim Crow in a hard fought and thrilling race. Such crucial wins sent shockwaves through the Australian squad – especially with the Commonwealth Games so soon to begin.

Australia finished the series with 125 points on the back of second places to Crow, and the crews of Alice McNamara – Ella Flecker and James McRae – Sascha Belongoff.

Great Britain edged out the Aussies for second place in the series with 126 points. However, it must be noted the Great Britain team did not compete in all of this year’s regattas – sitting out the first round in March.

Australia’s men’s and women’s eights finished last in the finals. A disappointment keenly felt as much by them as by all Australian rowing fans.

Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse to Investigate Dropping of Charges Against Scott Volkers.

The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse will investigate events leading to the decision drop sex charges against swim coach Scott Volkers. The roles of then Queensland attorney-general Rod Welford, the director of public prosecutions Leanne Clare, her assistant Paul Routledge and other legal figures will come under scrutiny.

A former CMC investigation into the probity of officials involved in the case found no evidence of misconduct or interference by the Department of Public Prosecutions. It did, however, isolate a number of errors made by the DPP in their handling of the case, noting there “were more defects than one would ordinarily expect to find in an examination of a matter of this kind.”

Following a twelve-month investigation, Scott Volkers was ordered to stand trial on seven charges of indecently dealing with a minor. This was in 2002. Six months after his arrest all charges were dropped. The DPP believed the evidence constituted ‘no reasonable basis’ from which to expect a conviction.

The announcement was met with a storm of outrage from alleged victims. Lawyers and politicians raised questions at the time over ‘procedural issues’ and called for the CMC to investigate.

Scott Volkers. Photo

Scott Volkers. Photo

In 2010 the Commissioner for Children and Young people refused to issue Volkers with a Blue Card, allowing him to work with children.

Volkers was recognized as one of Swimming Australia’s great coaches. He guided Samantha Riley and Susie O’Neill though the high points of their career and substantially enriched the depth of national swim talent.

Volkers was accused by several of his former charges of inappropriate behaviour, including fondling a 13 year-old girl. He has stridently denied any wrongdoing. For the last two years Volkers has been coaching in Brazil. He will be bringing a squad to Australia in August for the Pan Pacific Games.

Hackett in rehab?


Grant Hackett has flown this week to America to seek treatment for a reputed addiction to prescription medication, following an intervention staged by family and friends.

Although it has not been confirmed, it is thought that Hackett’s treatment will attempt to break an addiction to sleeping medication Stilnox, which the Westpac executive labelled “evil” in 2012.

hackett-laWhen Hackett was met by a media pack in LA after landing, he denied that he would be going to rehab, instead saying that he would be taking time to rest and relax after a stressful period in his personal life.

Contrary to this denial, Hackett’s father has told the media that his son would be seeking treatment at a rehabilitation facility. Neville Hackett claimed that the swimmer is in “a little bit of denial” over his addiction.

Last week, Grant Hackett was pictured in a near-nude state in Melbourne Crowne casino – apparently searching for one his children in the building’s foyer. In the past, Hackett has endured a number of personal problems, including a difficult split in 2012 from wife Candice Alley after allegations of alcohol-fuelled violence and intimidation.

Hackett’s latest personal troubles closely follow a 60 Minutes interview with two-time Olympic medallist Scott Miller, which explored the swimmer’s own history of drug abuse and pimping.

Completing the trifecta, of course, is Ian Thorpe, who was recently admitted to a Sydney rehabilitation clinic after police confronted him a daze-like state near his parents’ home in southern Sydney.

This has caused some journalists to remark on the correlation between the intense training regimes these athletes work under, and the challenges they face outside the pool. The likes of Thorpe, Miller and Hackett undertake taxing training schedules at very young ages. Just like child stars of the entertainment world, they’re not given the same opportunities to try and fail, to embarrass ourselves without widespread criticism, and to simply grow up that we normal folk are.

Being lauded as a national hero, only to be largely forgotten by the press and the public (save for the occasional negative scandal) after retirement, is sure to be emotionally and mentally draining. Then there’s the “what next?” question. Apart from the option of a commentating/media career, there are few obvious avenues open to ex-sportspeople.

For years, Australia has prided itself on its prowess in the pool. But at what cost?