Hundreds ignore rain to Hands On day

WHAT has 650.5 legs, 420 snags, 30 millilitres of rain, local member of parliament Gareth Ward, and 326 smiles on dials?

Answer: Gerroa's Hands On Surfing Day last Sunday.

The 13th annual surfing event for the region's disabled who want to experience what the rest of us take for granted - the chance to surf - was a brilliant success.

When the set-up crew arrived at first light it was raining. When the crowd arrived by 9am, it was still raining.

Throughout the 2½ hours of surfing and then at the barbecue and prize-giving, it kept on raining. But this did not deter the 326 hardy souls from making the day such a great success.

Water temperature was in the mid-20s, the surf was perfect apart from the onshore southerly and nine surfboards were operating throughout the session.

The highlight of the day was our legendary Kelly McCann arriving to claim her rightful place in the line-up.

This is a big deal when you consider she has to surf with an open tracheotomy between taking off and the end of each ride, when her respirator is re-attached to give her some oxygen before the next ride.

The rain really set in as we returned to Gerroa's Emery Park for the barbecue provided by a team of chefs from the Gerroa Boat Fisherman's Club.

Unfortunately, the festivities were curtailed with the increasing rain. Water-logged South Coast DSA president Ian Picton thanked all involved in the day, particularly the participants and their carers and families in attendance.

"To have 326 turn up from all parts of the region under trying conditions is a great credit to all concerned."

South Coast Disabled Surfing's first event for next season will be Mollymook on Saturday, November 15.

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