Starting/ending a swim on "steep cliffs"

malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
edited April 2013 in General Discussion
Can anyone share their experience starting and/or ending a swim on "steep cliffs" such as those referred to in the CS&PF rules, SBCSA rules, etc?

How are "steep cliffs" defined, other than "not a loose-aggregate beach"? How does one avoid getting dashed by waves, rocks, oysters, barnacles, urchins, etc when attempting to touch said cliffs? Is there a "close enough" call in certain conditions, or is it an all-or-nothing thing?

I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.



  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited April 2013
    Interesting question.

    I think the spirit of the rule is that it's a vertical or near-vertical cliff face. Practically speaking, this would be steep enough that the swimmer can tread water without touching bottom while reaching up and placing a hand on the cliff face.

    Defining it more specifically than that could become problematic, getting into issues such as grade percentage (% off vertical).

    Another approach: A steep cliff face is a part of the "natural connecting shoreline" of a land mass that, in the observer's judgment, is impossible or mortally dangerous for a swimmer to clear the water from.
  • I came across this onthe end of an epic
    21hr swim in bristol channel...not wanting to have any controversy on my completion of the swim, i simply swum on to the next beach....
    Ok so it was my training beach too;-)
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    Great illustration of both @Niek!

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    FWIW, a man-made harbor wall would not be considered an appropriate start/finish location under CCSF or SBCSA rules, as it is not part of the "natural connecting shore" of the land mass. Not sure about the EC orgs.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Because that is the rule. "Natural connecting shore" = no docks, no breakwaters, no harbor walls.

    If it makes local sense to allow harbor walls for Gibraltar, that's fine by me. For Catalina and Santa Barbara swims, we don't allow harbor walls.
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    The cliffs I have in mind look a lot like that spot in Tarifa (when I was there, it was pre-dawn and glassy-flat, so I forgot how similar they are).

    My concern is primarily with swells in association with said cliffs. I figure leaving a trail of blood across the swim route is not a recipe for success.

    Experience and practice seem to be the answer yet again, and I'm going to do a test swim in a few weeks to see just how bad these cliffs are. It'll also give me a chance to break in a new captain.

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    malinaka wrote:
    Is there a "close enough" call in certain conditions, or is it an all-or-nothing thing?
    @malinaka, going back to your original question. I really do think it is necessary to at least touch the land mass in order to start or finish. The only exception I can think of would be the Farallons, where the recognized start/finish is at a buoy a few meters from the rocks. But the Farallons are a federally protected marine sanctuary, so I suppose that's a reasonable exception in that specific case.
  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    edited April 2013
    Add to that, if you swim the "modern" Farallones Route, the start/finish is underneath the GGB whereby there is nothing to does that factor in? Tell me if I'm wrong @David_Barra, but doesn't 8 Bridges, the longest Marathon Swim in the world, start each stage at the middle of a stancion and finish the same way? A swim does not have to have a terrestrial start and finish is all that I'm adding to the fire and perhaps that was not the argument.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited April 2013
    @jcmalick, that's a good point. But I think @malinaka is talking about a traditional channel swim, in which there is an available land mass to touch.
Sign In or Register to comment.