Starting/ending a swim on "steep cliffs"

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.
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  • 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;-)
  • edited April 2013
    Fellow webmaster Richard finished his Strait Gibraltar by tapping the harbour wall in a port at the Moroccan site.
    image
    The start was by tapping the Isle Tariffa after jumping from a boat and swimming to the isle.
    image
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • 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.
  • edited April 2013

    part of the "natural connecting shore" of the land mass

    There is no water behind the wall and the wall is the end off the land, so why not?
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • malinaka said:

    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.
  • 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 touch...how 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.
  • 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.
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