Surfing a pain in the eye

Surfers are sustaining eye injuries after being hit with the nose, tail and fins of surfboards, a survey has found.

A study of 10 cases identified in a survey of NSW opthalmologists found eye injuries affected surfers aged from nine to 71 years.

Patients had an average age of 35 years and eight out of the 10 injured surfers were male.

One of the injured surfers was learning to surf at the time while others were weekly or daily surfers.

In one case a surfer’s injury was so severe it resulted in the loss of an eye.

In four cases surfers had fractures to the bones that form the orbit, the bony cavity that contains the eye, while another surfer was left with fibreglass in this area.

Researchers led by the University of Sydney’s Save Sight Institute said most patients had a combination of eye injuries including bruising to the skin and soft tissue around the eye and lacerations to the eyelid.

One eye injury occurred while using a surfboard in a backyard swimming pool, while other injuries occurred at Queens Head and Forster on NSW’s north coast, Shellharbour on the south coast, and Maroubra and Bondi in Sydney’s east.

Five surfers were hit by their own boards, two with someone else’s board and information was not available for three patients.

Authors of the study, published on Sunday in the Medical Journal of Australia, said it confirmed that surfing carried “a small risk of severe ocular injury”.

They said injuries may have become more frequent in recent times due to overcrowding at beaches and design of modern surfboards, which can feature sharp noses.

Researchers led by ophthalmologist Juliette Howden said there were currently no government regulations or recommendations about surfboard design or wearing protective eyewear or headgear while surfing.

“It would be possible to attach soft rubber tips to the nose or tail of short boards and to make fins from flexible material such as rubber,” they said.

Researchers said further studies were needed to assess the effectiveness of protective gear or surfboard modifications at preventing eye injuries.

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No need for equity, says Newcrest Mining

Gold diggers: Newcrest’s Cadia Hill operation is exciting, the company says. Gold diggers: Newcrest’s Cadia Hill operation is exciting, the company says.

Gold diggers: Newcrest’s Cadia Hill operation is exciting, the company says.

Gold diggers: Newcrest’s Cadia Hill operation is exciting, the company says.

Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas says the $US100 million recently paid off the gold miner’s debt pile is proof the company can get by without an equity raising.

The spectre of an equity raising has hung over Newcrest since the 2013 gold price slump cut into margins and raised concerns about the level of debt on the gold miner’s balance sheet.

Newcrest has about $A4.1 billion of debt on its balance sheet, pushing its gearing ratio to beyond 30 per cent.

Reducing that debt pile is the miner’s top priority but some analysts have warned recently the company won’t be able to generate enough cash to cover its debt and the growth spending it wants to do over the next five years.

But Mr Biswas said the $US100 million repayment was a reflection of the cash generated during the September quarter and a sign that Newcrest could fund itself.

“Under the current market and operating conditions the cash inflow from the Cadia ramp-up, the turnaround of Lihir and the EDGE (efficiency and cost reduction) program is sufficient to pay back our debt and get our gearing down and that is our primary focus,” he said.

Mr Biswas said shareholders should be excited by the early results at the recently expanded Cadia precinct, which produced at an “all-in sustaining cost” of $A207 an ounce during the September quarter.

“Look at Cadia’s cost base, $207 all-in sustaining cost, that is a massive margin and it is not even at full tilt, that is the potential of this company,” he said.

Newcrest chairman Peter Hay backed up those comments by saying shareholders had no need to be concerned about a dilutive equity raising.

Newcrest shareholders were not paid a dividend in the 2014 financial year and the company has said it would resume paying dividends only “when it is prudent to do so”.

But Mr Hay reassured shareholders on Friday that they would not have to wait until the miner reached its desired gearing ratio of 15 per cent, which is likely to be several years away.

“The point at which it becomes prudent to declare dividends again is not necessarily the gearing target so we will look at that,” he said.

“It is a balance, you have to make a judgment based on all those different factors, including the growth prospects and whatever capital demands there are on the company at the time.”

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James Cummings in good hands to continue family’s Melbourne Cup tradition

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For James Cummings, the past 18 months have been a blurred whirlwind of firsts. There’s his first season as a trainer in partnership with his legendary grandfather, Bart. His first group-1 winner. And, on Tuesday, he will have his first Melbourne Cup runner in nine-year-old Precedence. Now there is the impending birth of his first child with wife Monica, who he married in July.

“We’re expecting our first child midway through next year,” Cummings, 26, says, smiling. “It’s been a very busy 18 months. It’s the best. That’s why you get married. There’s no point in being married if you’re not open to it. Interestingly, we travelled to East Africa on our honeymoon. What I learnt there was the beauty of youthful virility. Every tribe we spoke to, or every new location we went to, it was such an important facet of their lifestyle. It isn’t to be underestimated.”

No, it isn’t. The beauty of youthful virility for the Cummings family is that it has maintained a racing dynasty the stretches back to 1911, when Bart’s father, Jim, took out his trainer’s licence with the South Australian Jockey Club before claiming the 1950 Melbourne Cup with Comic Court.

It leads us to Tuesday’s race. Precedence will be Bart’s 79th runner in the Cup. It will be James’ first. “Welcome to the big league,” says Cummings jnr. “It’s like being welcomed to Test match footy.”

James became the family’s fourth-generation trainer at Leilani Lodge at Royal Randwick on August 1 last year.

Stepping up from the staffer saddling and clocking horses for Bart is one thing, but taking on the full responsibility of a trainer is an entirely different proposition. This young horseman, though, carries the added burden of expectation that comes with racing’s most famed and adored surname.

Is it ever too much to carry?

“I would say no, but I would say it without being dismissive of the threat or the concept of that being the case,” James says. “I say it because I’ve identified that I am my own biggest critic. I would usually be the last person in the room to blame the jockey because I feel that if I’d done a better job, if I’d thought about it a little harder, if I’d been more explicit in my instructions, things could’ve gone better.

“I’m blessed. It’s not only in my blood but I’ve grown up with it. I’ve learnt as much as I can through osmosis and experience, but my family has been passionate about training horses since 1911. We’re about treating horses well. If we look after our horses well, they’ll look after us. We live by that mantra.”

Time stands still for no man. Not even Bart. He is rising 87 and the chatter has already started – as it has in recent years – about whether he will or won’t be at Flemington on Tuesday. “He’s as well as he can be for a man who’s lived a good life,” James says. “If he comes out [to Flemington] people might not have seen him in a long while. He has aged. The body might be weak but the mind is willing. He’s sharp and on to you if you slip up.”

The lessons his grandfather have taught him, however, aren’t difficult for James to recall. Like the time when an expensive yearling came back to the from a spell.

Bart was sitting in his office, peering out through the venetian blinds. “That horse that’s been here a few days,” he told his grandson. “How are its sesamoids?”

A sesamoid is a bony formation at the back of a horse’s front fetlocks. “They seem OK,” James replied, puzzled. “There’s been no complaints.”

He checked the horse’s sesamoids and, sure enough, was astounded to discover the horse had proud sesamoids.

“How the hell did he know that?” James thought. “He’s in there behind his venetian blinds. How does he know that?”

Later that afternoon, Bart was having a cup of tea and going over the gallop sheets for the next morning’s trackwork. On his desk sat a spelling sheet, which details which horses have been in the paddock and for what reason. He noticed the expensive yearling’s name. Underlined in red pen was the word “sesamoids”.

Recalls James: “I burst out laughing. He saw me look at it and just chuckled. He tested me, and he was trying to train me. To be meticulous.”

A moment that captures the near-mythical reverence for Bart came nine years ago when he walked into the Crystal Club Lounge at Crown Casino. The room was buzzing with masters of the universe, captains of industry and enough celebrities to fill the Sunday social pages for a year.

Then the most successful trainer in Melbourne Cup history walked into the room, dressed in immaculate pinstripe suit and wearing aviator sunglasses. High society fell silent.

Ask James if he ever feels similarly awed and he shakes his head.

“No,” he says. “The question is an interesting one because how could I look at him any different? My other grandfather on my mother’s side died when I was young. People ask me if he’s like a normal grandfather. The answer is he’s my only grandfather. He’s a shy man. For a shy man, he has a lot of exposure. He’s not a fan of the long interview, it’s fair to say.”

Can James and Bart win with Precedence? It’s unlikely but they’re confident of a top-10 finish. The horse was trampled on in his last start in the Moonee Valley Cup. In the start before that, he had beaten home Signoff, which is now equal favourite to win on Tuesday.

Regardless of the result, it will be another brick laid down in the Cummings dynasty that shows no sign of fading, with another on the way.

“It was a watershed moment for Bart and Leilani Lodge [when I received my training licence],” James says. “Bart wasn’t coming to the track, and owners were starting to pull out. Reputation is so important, but it isn’t everything. They want authenticity in what they’re receiving, whether the horse is good or bad. I’m like that young Bart trying to listen to as many people who I can.”

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Richmond signs Taylor Hunt, Joel Hamling heads to Bulldogs

The paperwork to finalise the Taylor Hunt deal was lodged with the AFL on Sunday. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

The paperwork to finalise the Taylor Hunt deal was lodged with the AFL on Sunday. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

The paperwork to finalise the Taylor Hunt deal was lodged with the AFL on Sunday. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Richmond has moved swiftly to secure former Geelong midfielder Taylor Hunt after the former Cat had accepted an offer to train with St Kilda.

And another former Cat, key backman Joel Hamling who did not make his senior debut in three years on the Geelong list, has been signed by the Western Bulldogs.

The paperwork to finalise the Hunt deal was lodged with the AFL on Sunday and will be confirmed by the league Monday.

St Kilda had made an offer to Hunt to train with the club with a view to signing him, but Richmond scuppered those plans when it offered a one-year deal for the onballer and tagger, who grew up a passionate Richmond supporter.

Geelong will this week secure former Melbourne midfielder Sam Blease. The pacy running player, who was taken with pick 17 in the 2008 national draft, was cut by the Demons last week. Geelong will sign him as a delisted free agent.

Carlton will  secure former Swan, Matthew Dick, a fast medium tall running defender, as a delisted free agent. The Blues will also secure  former Bulldog Jason Tutt. They will either pick up Tutt as a delisted free agent, or, should the Bulldogs not delist him, through the pre-season draft.

The Saints on Saturday signed delisted Swans player Tim Membrey after the list lodgement last Friday cleared players to be signed as delisted free agents.

The Saints have also asked former Adelaide pair Shaun McKernan and Jared Petrenko to train with the club in coming weeks. McKernan could fill a key position role with Rhys Stanley traded out of the club. Petrenko would shape a a potential rookie listing with his speed and defensive pressure.

The Tigers’ move to secure Hunt follows the earlier play to secure Jack Trengove from Melbourne in a trade. That deal fell through when the final scans in a medical examination uncovered complications with a foot problem.

Tigers football manager Dan Richardson said the Hunt move was plainly part of the club’s push to increase midfield depth of experienced talent as the 23-year-old had played 63 games in six seasons with the Cats.

“We have been clear in our intention to add to our midfield during the off-season, and we believe Taylor will be a strong addition to the club,” Richardson said.

“Taylor will complement our playing list with his speed and versatility, and we are confident he has his best football ahead of him.”

With other pieces of their emerging list starting to fall into place, the Western Bulldogs continued to add depth to another of their weak points – the key defender stocks.

Having already secured highly-rated draft prospect Zaine Cordy (son of Brian and brother of Ayce) as a father-son pick, the Dogs signed Hamling, a 195cm athletic defender who finished third in the club’s VFL best and fairest this season.

The 21-year-old former West Australian had attracted interest from several clubs since being delisted two weeks ago.

List manager Jason McCartney said the Dogs considered it important to secure another key defender who was already in the system, although Hamling has also shown versatility to suggest he could also be tried forward at different stages.

“Joel adds a different dynamic to that group with his raw athleticism,” McCartney said.

“Joel has been part of an elite development program at Geelong, and having watched closely throughout the year, we believe he is not far away from playing good consistent AFL football.”

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