|At that time, Western Australia crews used to perform a left-hand buoy turn to counteract the Freemantle Doctor wind which prevailed. Most eastern crews practiced these turns before we arrived. However, there was confusion just prior to the Interstate race, as officials quietly announced it would be a right-hand turn. This instruction was not heard by the Freshy sweep, Brian Callaghan. |
Gun goes and only three crews arrive at the cans. Point Lonsdale (Vic) Maroochydore (Qld) and Freshwater (NSW) The other states had composite rep crews and they were still trying to get off the beach.
Qld and Vic performed a perfect right hand turn and were on their way home while NSW just stopped. Confusion!! Left or right?? Callo blew up and simply rowed them home without turning any can. Result, NSW DQ. Final overall point score result, Qld won the series by 1 point from NSW! Rest of the NSW team not happy with Freshy.
In the Open Men’s racing next day, Freshy drew a red-hot 6 boat semi-final along with all the various state champion crews. The sand bank only had room for 5 boats. “So they pushed us down to ally 6 with water up to our f…..g necks and the other crews in knee depth! Bloody officials”! No final for Zom.
That turned out to be the end of Zom’s A grade rowing for Freshy.
South Curl Curl beckoned and from 1973 to 1988 Zom found himself rowing A’s with the Flea sweeping also being coached by Roger Ninham. They became the most successful South Curly crew at that time winning heaps of races. (see Zom’s own words in the attached addendum)
In 1974 Zom was selected to manage the Freshwater SLSC tour to England and Wales and in 1980 was selected as the SLSA Official Liaison officer to the Welsh Team touring Australia. This was followed by a second Welsh tour in 1980 and again in 1884 accompanied by his mate Freshy Kim Marsh and their wives. He received a personal letter of thanks from patron Prince Charles for his services to Welsh Lifesaving.
Zom was missing his rowing and in 1987 was approached by John Sneezby from Manly club, to form the “Manly Steamers” 180 masters crew. They had a great time with lots of laughs, schooners of Tooheys Black and in 1991 won Gold at NSW Masters titles at Bondi. At the Aussies that season, they rowed at City Beach WA, winning the inaugural 180 Australian Masters Championships, followed up with a Silver at Kurrawa the following year.
At about that time, there was much unrest about the direction surf boat rowing was taking, and at a meeting in 1992 with Zombie, Zacca Watts, Matt Clymer and Steve Shepherd, the NSW League of Rowers was formed where Zom was secretary for the next 27 years. Much has been written about the development of the Rowers League and the eventual ASRL, so I won’t try to do it all again here. However, it is important to recognise that Zom has been an integral part of the sports development since then.
Suffice to say that Zom and Woofa Barnett travelled all over the country, towing a boat and promoting the potential of a new surf rowing organisation.
In 2007 Graeme Zom Knox was inducted into the NSW Rowers League Hall of Fame and also awarded Life Membership of the ASRL
By 1992 Zom had felt that “if you can’t beat em, join em” was best the was way forward, so he became an accredited SLSA official as a boat starter, and in 1995 was appointed to the Board of Examiners, Manly Warringah Branch (Now SLS Sydney Northern Beaches)
Always a man with an eye on improvement, he was instrumental in the introduction of the laying of two sets of boat buoys to speed up the racing program as more boat events were being introduced.
His initiative also saw the introduction of the NSW Surf Boat Premiership commence under the flag of “Tooheys Blue Premiership”
Did I mention his work as a support boat crew for the George Bass Marathon? His club boat crew had trained hard for the Bass, so Zom had borrowed a boat “from a mate” for crew changes and general support. I’m not quite sure how it came about- but the support boat sank out at sea!
Zom had the presence of mind to tie an empty esky (of course it was empty!) to the boat’s line as it disappeared from sight into the depths. I understand that Darrel Eastlake was covering the race for channel 9 in the Nine helicopter and they came to the rescue. I gather the boat was eventually pulled up using the floating esky as a buoy marker.
Zom recognised that the off season needed a bit of a lift so in 1988 -93 he was the joint organiser of the Brewarrina to Bourke Outback Classic Surfboat Marathon. He was mates with the local country police sergeant so they planned the idea of a surf boat race on the Barwon River. A wonderful experience for many rowers to get to the outback and also inject some spending into the local economy. Who can forget Zom’s sidekick “Sparrow” onstage at the local club? Burning an old derelict timber surf boat standing on end in a paddock? Great times.
Zom rallied a few rowers to make up a two crew team for the Outback Marathon. They called themselves the “Harlequins”, made up of rowers from South Curl Curl, a crew of Police from Freshwater and Manly boys.
Around that time a young Shaun Stacey (current 2019 Australian Champion sweep for Dee Why) was just starting to sweep and had picked up a novice South Curl Curl junior crew, so Zom worked with them coaching, writing program systems, technique advice and conditioning. He would sit on the rocks at Little Manly (in Sydney Harbour) sometimes with his mate Zacca, giving advice to the crew. That crew went on to win the Junior Boat at Australian championships that season.
From 1987 to 2003 Zom was a regular columnist for the Manly Daily newspaper “Between the Flags with Zom” with his sometimes-controversial thoughts on all things surf boats.
For his insightful writing skills, he received an “Outstanding Service award to Surf Lifesaving” from the Manly Daily and in 1998, Warringah Council presented him with the “Outstanding Community Service” award.
Zombie was also the recipient of the 1996 Inaugural NSW SLS Award of Excellence (media) and in 2019 the SLSA 50-year service award, the 20 Year SLS Officiating Award and, at the 2019 Aussies, he was presented with his 20 Years SLS Officiating at Aussies certificate.
However, through all the work and dedication to his own rowing and the staunch development of the sport, his passion in the last twenty years or so, has been announcing and race calling at all levels of surf boat racing.