Coast Clubs Impress At Open Champs

They boast arguably one of the more intriguing rivalries in Central Coast sport and the battle between Umina and Avoca Beach SLSC continued at Blacksmiths Beach throughout the 2017 NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championships last weekend.

While Newport and Manly once again dominated the overall club point score, the two Central Coast powerhouses rallied in the water events to take sixth (Umina) and eighth (Avoca Beach) position respectively.

After four years at Ocean Beach – Umina the State carnival shifted north to Lake Macquarie with the Central Coast competitors having no qualms about having to travel for the 3-day competition.

Jemma Smith was the best performed Central Coast athlete adding another 12 medals (6 gold, 3, silver, 3 bronze) to her already burgeoning trophy cabinet. Smith enjoyed a successful campaign both individually and in the team events but perhaps her most memorable performance came in the Open Female Taplin when she and close friends Jazmyn Rodwell and Rachel Wood combined brilliantly to win gold over the all-conquering Newport team that counted Georgia Miller, Madison Spencer, and Hannah Minogue in its ranks.

Among many Umina teams to shine were the U15 Male Surf Team who overcame the loss of two regular members to add to the gold they won in 2016 and the U15 First Aid team of Kirsten Miller and Mollie Murphy.

Full of confidence after earning a maiden Olympic Bronze in Rio, Avoca’s Lachlan Tame powered his way to a first Open Ski title since 2013 and also joined forces with young-gun and fellow Olympian Riley Fitzsimmons and Rob McIntyre to take out the Single Ski Relay Race.

It was on the skis where Avoca would enjoy their most productive discipline of the event with both the male and female U17 teams (Keeley Booth, Lily Cracknell, Emma Livingston and Harry Armstrong, Byron Chadwick, and Bailey Johns) taking out their respective finals.

Other strong Central Coast performances included an incredible swim by James de Vries (Shelly Beach) who took out the U19 Surf Race and in doing so was awarded the Saxon Bird Memorial Trophy, which retains a special place in the heart of the competitors each year, as it honours the achievements of the late Queenscliff lifesaver.

This wasn’t de Vries only medal of the competition as he teamed up with Alex Chaffer and Thomas Lennox to win silver in the U19 Male Taplin Relay. Club mate Daina Griffin also got her chance to stand on the podium when she won bronze in the U19 2KM Beach Run.

Terrigal’s Zak Van Dartel picked up a long bronze in the U19 Board Race, while MacMasters Beach just missed the medals in the U19 Female Surf Boat Final finishing in fourth.

NSW Surf Sports Manager Rob Pidgeon felt that despite a challenging start due to the conditions, the State Championships put an exclamation point on what has been another successful summer for the sport.

“I would like to congratulate everyone for what was an extremely successful Open Championships and can safely say that we were all treated to a wonderful few days of racing that while extremely competitive was always conducted in the right spirit.

“There’s a lot to like about the performance of our athletes and I think that next month’s Australian Championships is shaping up to be a big one for NSW competitors.” Mr Pidgeon said.

2017 Open Championship Club Point Score:

Newport SLSC 425
Manly LSC 343
Wanda SLSC 202
North Cronulla SLSC 174
Cronulla SLSC 144
Umina SLSC 128
Redhead SLSC 115
Avoca Beach SLSC 112
Freshwater SLSC 93
Elouera SLSC 89

The NSW Surf Life Saving Age Championships, proudly supported by Your local club returns to Blacksmiths Beach, Swansea in 2018 from Feb 24 – March 11 for another exciting year of competition.

Photograph - James de Vries (Soldiers Beach) took out the 2017 Saxon Bird Memorial Trophy when he won the U19 Swim. Here he is pictured with Director of Surf Sports Donald van Keimpema at Blacksmiths Beach.

Thu 16 Mar 2017