Five Minutes With…Joanna Charles

Byron Bay’s Joanna Charles will enter the NSW Surf Life State Championships full of confidence after a strong performance at the recent Country Championships at South West Rocks where she finished with 4 individual medals including 3 gold.

The talented teenager has tasted success at State level before when she won silver in the ski when she was in the U17s, but considers last year as her breakthrough campaign when she was part of several very successful team events.

Passionate about Surf Life Saving and a well-respected member of the Byron Bay club, Joanna Charles is looking forward to hitting the waves of Ocean-Beach Umina in the U19 and Open events.

How long have you been involved in Surf Life Saving and what attracted you to the sport and to the water events in particular?

I have been involved in surf life saving since I was 8. The thing that attracted me the Surf Club was the friends and the excitement and challenges of surf racing.

I love being in the ocean and never knowing what it’s going to throw at you. Each race involves different obstacles. I love learning how the ocean works and having to fully understand it to gain advantage of what it has to offer to my racing. The water events are always so exciting to race in and watch.

Last month’s win was Byron’s sixth straight Country Title what is it about the club that makes it so successful?

Byron is an incredible club and the club culture is what makes it so successful. There is an incredibly experienced and dedicated group of coaches who support us no matter what and give up endless hours to help us achieve our goals.

Everyone at the club is so welcoming and friendly and does whatever it takes to ensure you have everything you need to perform at your optimal level. Gary Timperly, Glen Lawrence and Paul Irwin do such a good job with the seniors, keeping everyone involved and interested which is not always easy with teenagers.

The juniors are developed and encouraged from such a young age and Mitchio McMullen (Junior Coach) and Troy Edie (Junior Coordinator) strive to keep them involved right up into the seniors and create a culture based around strong competition, which leads strong club overall. As well as the coaches there are numerous committee members, seniors, old boys, masters, officials, parents and patrolling members who work tirelessly for the benefit of the club.

How have your preparations for the State Championships been?

This year will be the seventh time I have competed at the State Champs, and my preparation this season has been different. I finished Year 12 at the end of last year so I have so much time on my hands to train, and have been able to do a lot more training while adding variation. I recently moved out of home so trying to juggle training, university and adult life has been a new challenge.

What would a typical week of training involve for you?

My typical training week is pretty busy. I have a mix of ski, kayak, gym and running sessions with up to 12 sessions in a week. I train twice a week with a group coached by Mark Sutton, which is where I practice all my race tactics and skills.

Umina is renowned for producing some challenging conditions what are you hoping for this year?

I am hoping the conditions are a little different to last year! Being hit with a wind and rainstorm mid-final wasn’t as enjoyable as it sounds. This year I’m hoping for a little wave with some nice chop to assist on the way back to the beach. That provides a good challenge and makes for some interesting racing, and also means I won’t have to paddle the whole way home.

Finally what do you most enjoy about the State Championships?

My favourite part about state is finals day. I love the competitive atmosphere and the fact that you can watch everyone race, cheer everyone on and compete against the best in the state. It’s such an exciting day to be a part of and has such a cool vibe.

Thu 10 Mar 2016