John rows near a half century at club

Long-time mates John Ellingsen and Dave Cush in 1986.
Long-time mates John Ellingsen and Dave Cush in 1986. Contributed

THE year was 1964.

The Beatles toured Australia, Dawn Fraser was named the Australian of the Year and John Ellingsen joined the Coolum Surf Club.

And John is still there.

These days, he is president of the supporters club and, at 66 years of age, still conducts beach patrols and rows in national and state surfboat events.

John started rowing surf boats to keep fit in the rugby league off-season but he quickly developed a passion for it.

He and his crew soon became competitive under the auspices of legendary sweep Keith "Spaz" Hurst and developed into one of the best Queensland crews of the era.

John went on to win many branch and state titles but he really came into his own after he started to compete in masters events.

As a masters rower, John and the crew won several state and Australian titles, the most recent being the 240 years event at Kurrawa Beach in 2011.

John has dedicated much of his life to surfboat rowing.

He has served on the Queensland Surf Rowers League and has helped to devise the new surfboat-rowing format that has revolutionised surfboat racing.

Some of his achievements to improve competitions include fast turn-around heats, round robin racing, skins racing and the introduction of an under-23s race.

But he is also passionate about the Coolum Surf Life Saving Club.

John nominated for his first committee position in the mid-1960s and has held almost every committee position at the club.

He was president of both the surf life saving club and the supporters club and was made a life member in 1993.

Along with his Coolum Surf Life Saving Club mates, John will head to Gallipoli in 2015 to help replicate the landing of the Anzac troops at Anzac Cove, in the centenary year of the event that is seen as the beginning of the Anzac legend.

It is said that in 1915, troops landed in boats similar in design to surfboats. John will be in one of only 70 boats registered for the re-enactment.


This is an edited version of an article that appeared in Clubs Queensland's Insight Magazine.

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