Eyes on the Prize as Teams Square-Up for Trans-Tasman Supremacy

Three competitions, three teams, one dream. That’s the equation for those competing in the bi-ennale Trans-Tasman Series which gets underway on the South Coast from tomorrow.

Competitors from the Central Coast Branch, NSW Country team, and Northern Region (New Zealand) are fine-tuning their preparations for the Trans-Tasman series with each side quietly confident of performing well in what is a tightly packed competition schedule.

Round 1 begins at Shellharbour Beach on Saturday 10 January, with Rounds 2 and 3 following in rapid succession on Monday January 12, and Tuesday January 13 at Kiama Downs and Warilla Barrack Point respectively.

NSW Country Team

NSW Country are hosting the competition in their region for the first time in six years, and to make it even more special for the team they are also the defending champions. “It’s going to be a very difficult challenge to defend our title as it is such a rare thing for defending teams to go back-to-back,” said assistant coach Scott McCartney.

“NSW Country has never won the competition on Australian soil and to do it while hosting it would make it even more meaningful.”

McCartney said he’s happy with the balance and fitness of the team who have bonded together really well. The Country athletes have an extremely packed program of events as many will be backing up for the Stramit NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships next weekend at Mollymook.

“The main focus is definitely going to be on recovery, maximising rest and making sure people aren’t burning themselves out in events. Of course we want them to have fun as well!

“We certainly won’t be taking the competition lightly; Northern Region are rumoured to have a very hot team this year, and the Central Coast are always high quality opponents,” McCartney said.

Northern Region NZ

Northern Region arrived in Australia on Wednesday, and the young New Zealanders are excited to be participating in the competition.

“We’ve spent the last day or so acclimatising to the heat, it’s very different compared to what we left at home,” coach Simone Spencer said.

“It’s a relatively young team that we have brought over – our main ambition for the Northern Region team is for our members to get a taste of international competition, continue their development and go back and win medals at our national titles.”

Team management inspected the venues, and were very pleased with what they found, saying that their squad members will be doing a couple of training sessions before the competition kicks off to make sure they’re used to the conditions.

“We’re very happy and thrilled to be here, it’s going to be a great competition it is such a great experience for our team to have,” Spencer said.

“The team has settled down well and they’re really enjoying it.”

Central Coast

In the current format of the Trans-Tasman competition Central Coast have been the most successful team having won five titles – including a hat-trick – since 1999. Team coach Tim Schofield who will also be juggling the demands of competing during the event believes that the athletes from the Coast are fit and raring to go.

“The team is looking very fit and they have come together very well. We are at a point in the season where there are a lot of events coming up so it’s the time when they can put all their training aside and go out and enjoy some competition.

“The advantage of the compressed nature of the event is that everyone will be able to reassess where they are at after the completion of the first day, and hopefully we can come out on top,” Schofield said.

The Trans-Tasman series marks the fourth time that Schofield has been both a competitor and coach at an event, and he believes that the dual nature of the responsibilities works in his favour. “I think coaches and athletes have a very similar mindset and I have found the best way to do it is to approach it in a similar way.

“As a competitor you are always analysing the conditions and the strengths of others in your race, and as a coach you just prepare yourself mentally and communicate that same information to your athletes.”

Each of the teams competing at the Trans-Tasman Series consists of 18 members (3 male, 3 female in U17, U19 and Open age groups) who will compete for points across a range of beach and water events.

Fri 9 Jan 2015