The First Surf Boats
The first surf boat James L. Boyd was designed by club member James Boyd who supervised the building of it by club members E Boyd and C Wilson at his ship yards on Swansea Flats. Boyd’s also built the 2nd boat. Tom Humphreys then built the next eight boats at his boat yard on Swansea Channel.
Colin and Boyd Humphreys then built the next seven boats in Swansea. Colin’s son Robert also built one boat. Boat No. 4 Sea Swan II was one of the first two tuck stern boats built. 1946 was the year in which Swansea Caves and Swansea Belmont clubs introduced the tuck stern surf boat to the Surf Lifesaving Association of Australia. This type of boat is a permanent memorial to the late Tom Humphreys, designer and builder of this surf boat.
- James L. Boyd
- Caves Beach
- Seaswan 11
- Seaswan 111
- Gay Moorcroft
- Seaswan IV
- John Sitizen
- Tom Humphreys
- Tom Humphreys 11
- Edgar J. Fox
- Swansea R.S.L. & Services
- Ken Murray
- Narkinki Boona
- Captain Cook
- Mick Ellercamp
- Wal Jones
- Ye Old Bastards
- Bob McDonald
- Don “Boora” Ellercamp
- Narkindi Boona 11
- James L. Boyd 11
- Helen Boyd
- Alexander D. Campbell
- Gordon Thomas Richardson
- Tom York
- Mabs Ferris
- Stuart Chalmers
Foundation member Charlie Wilson Surf Boat Captain and Sweep selected Ernie Boyd, Tim Masters, Joe Harman and Norm Boyd as the club’s first boat crew. Others to row in the crew were Roy Murray and Vern Baxter.
Marathon Boat Races were a regular event each season and Caves Beach Crews with their top results can lay claim to be the top boat club for many seasons in this event.
Caves won the Ocean Beach race around Lion Island 3 times. Wins followed in the Lake Macquarie Marathon and Port Stephens Marathon and the NBN Blacksmiths to Nobbys race. A notable win was the Captain Cook Bicentenary Marathon at Queenscliff winning a surf boat appropriately named Captain Cook.
Many local races were won. Caves marathons were around Spooney which was at the end of the now breakwall. Several boats including Caves were disqualified in a marathon held from Swansea Bridge to Caves Beach. Caves won the race of the Long Ships from Pittwater to Whale Beach. The Coogee Marathon was won 3 years straight by Caves enabling Caves to keep the Oceanic Shield.
A race to remember by all was from Palm Beach to Manly. Four beaches along the way were nominated as beaches where all crews returned to shore where crew changes were allowed. Caves retained the same crew for the entire race and led coming into Manly only to be passed by 2 other boats on a wave to finish 3rd.
Caves senior “A” crew represented N.S.W. in the Cook Strait Boat Marathon in New Zealand. Late in the race they came from behind to take the lead only to hit the wall and finally finish in 4th. Crew members were Peter Ellercamp, Don Ellercamp, Robert Baxter and Henry Jonczyk with Ken Murray Sweep. Arguably the best crew this club has seen and maybe even Australia. The boaties also competed in the Bourke to Brewarrina Marathon.
At the first Australian Surf Boat Convention which was held at Bondi Beach in 1960/61 the Caves crew of Mick Ellercamp, Jim Cowan, John McDonald, Ron Ham and Ken Murray won the open Boat Final.
Another first for the club was the first female boat crew to represent Newcastle Branch. Swept by Gordon Richardson the girls were Lisa Buckman, Brooke Buckman, Alicia Jacques and Jessica Jacques.
A feature of Caves Boats was the White Oar blades with painted with Maroon Feet.
Surf Boat Chronicles
On our 75th anniversary Caves Beach launched a new surf boat kindly donated by Tim and Natalia from Hi Lo Beach Apartments, Broadbeach, Queensland and named after life member, Stewart Chalmers. Now in our 80th anniversary, Caves Beach, in the past five years of surf boats, have achieved some excellent results and is still one of the most successful clubs of all time.
2004/05 – Caves 120 years crew of Jeff Sharp, Robert Ballard, Steve Fleming, Brett Main and Sweep, Dave Regan finish 2nd in the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
2005/06 – Caves 240years crew (The Barnacles) of Peter ‘Mick’ Ellercamp, Don Ellercamp, Bruce Sharp, Gordon Richardson and sweep Rick Robertson achieved excellent results with 2nd NSW Championship, 2nd Australian Championships and 2nd World Championships. (Robert Ballard replaced Gordon Richardson in the Australian Championship).
2006/07 – Caves launched another new surf boat kindly donated by club member Garry Lunn from Independence Investments and Waratah Engineering and was named after life member, Ronald ‘Sam’ Ekert.
2007/08 – Caves 240years crew (The Barnacles) of Peter ‘Mick’ Ellercamp, Don Ellercamp, Jeff Sharpe Bruce Sharp and sweep Rick Robertson achieved excellent results with 1st Hunter Branch Championships, 2nd NSW Championships and 1st Australian Surf Boat Rowers League Australian Open.
Caves 140 years crew (The Executives) of Kevin Geeves, Robert Ballard, Steve Fleming, Brett Main and sweep Rick Robertson achieved excellent results, 1st Hunter Branch Championships and 1st Australian Surf Boat Rowers League Australian Open.
Caves Beach formed their first Masters Women’s surf boat crew consisting of Diana Fleming, Cynthia Ballard, Shanti Page and Tracey Dawkings. They appropriately called themselves ‘The Desperate Housewives’, swept by Robert Ballard.
2008/09 – Caves ‘Reserve’crew of Kevin Geeves, Robert Ballard, Steve Fleming, Brett Main and sweep Rick Robertson finish 3rd Australian Surf Boat Rowers League Australian Open. The reserve crew finished 3rd in Reserve Grade and 2nd in Masters 140years and the only crew to gain two medals.
Caves Masters Women surf boat crew (The Desperate Housewives) consisting of Diana Fleming, Cynthia Ballard, Shanti Page and Tracey Dawkings swept by Robert Ballard, compete in the final of the 160years NSW State Titles held at Blacksmiths Beach and finish in 6th place.
Caves 140years crew of Kevin Geeves, Robert Ballard, Steve Fleming, Brett Main and sweep Rick Robertson achieved excellent results, 1st Hunter Branch Championships, 4th NSW State Championships and 2nd Australian Surf Boat Rowers League Australian Open. This crew also gained a 3rd at the World Masters 2009 being undefeated to the final.
Mick Ellercamp, Don Ellercamp and Ken Murray all inducted to the Australian Surf Rowers League’s Hall of Fame.
Ken Murray’s record speaks for itself as a Champion Boat Sweep. As you read in this book, the number of medals won by members in Surf Boat racing, you will see that this is a Champion Boat Club. Mick Ellercamp and Don Ellercamp would rank in the top bracket of Boat Rowers ever in Australia. Both could also sweep.
Mick and Ken representing Australia and N.S.W. with Don representing N.S.W. Other top Boatmen amongst a host who all represented N.S.W. were Jim Cowen, John McDonald, Henry Jonczyk, Robert Hobson, Robert Baxter and present Sweep Gordon Richardson. Others to shine were Paul Simmington and Mick Jonczyk while Bob McDonald spent many years training all these champions.
The highlight would be hard to beat. The 1962 – 63 Senior Surf Boat Crew of John McDonald, Henry Jonczyk, Don Ellercamp, Mick Ellercamp and Ken Murray were 1st Newcastle Branch, 1st N.S.W., 1st Interstate, 1st. Australian. In the same season the Junior Boat Crew of Allan Sullivan, Robert Hobson, Gordon Richardson, Stuart Chalmers and Ken Murray, 1st Newcastle Branch, 1st N.S.W. State, 2nd Interstate, 1st Australian.
Caves Senior A Boat Crew won the NSW State Title four years in a row 1961, 62, 63, and 64, a feat we believe that has never been beaten or equalled in boats. Don Ellercamp, Mick Ellercamp and Ken Murray were members of each of those crews.
Complete Major Surf boat Results So Far
- World Championships – 1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze
- Australian Championships – 13 gold, 9 silver, 6 bronzes
- NSW Championships – 13 gold, 7 silver, 9 bronze
- Newcastle/Hunter Branch Titles – 70 1st’s
- ASRL Open – 3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze
- Representative Boat crews Newcastle Branch 19 times,
- NSW Representative teams 6 times
- Australian Representative teams 3 times.
- Nestle Peters Surfboat Survival Series – 8 gold, 8 silver, 3 bronze
(club Championships twice, runners up twice and third once)