At 57, Shoalhaven Heads Surf Lifesaving Club life member David Schofield is the oldest contender on the George Bass Ski Marathon, a 200km week-long race on the far south coast of NSW.
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The experienced solo skier has clocked up thousands of kilometres on the route, after taking part in the biennial marathon since 1997.
He reckons this year is the hardest, and not just because of his age.
Every nautical mile has been a slog due to the direction of the wind.
“They keep on forecasting tailwinds, but we haven’t had a tailwind all week,” Schofield said.
“Everyone’s saying it’s the hardest year.”
On the longest day on the water, Schofield spent four and a half hours paddling.
But he never fails to stay entertained.
“There have been a few sharks around,” Schofield said.
“I had a seal clapping me today, laying on its back.
“There are plenty of things to think of, when there’s no marine life I’m busy concentrating on the water, looking at the chop.”
Schofield pushes his body to its limits.
On Thursday during the race, his average heart rate was 157 beats per minute, which is pretty high for a man his age.
At this stage, he’s placed sixth from 11 solo participants.
“The aim is to finish in front of as many people as you can,” he said.
With just one more leg of the race left, what Dave has enjoyed the most, and what will keep him coming back, is the companionship.
“We camp at Moruya, Bermagui, Tathra,” he said.
“It’s like a family, you catch up with everyone, have a few beers together.”
His friend, and fellow life member from Shoalhaven Heads SLSC Byron Dengate has joined him on the journey as the ski referee this year.
The race will finish in Eden tomorrow.
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