Illawarra Athletes Strong At State Champs

Over the three-day 2016 NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championships supported by ClubsNSW, close to 2500 beach and water athletes ranging from Olympians to professional surf stars through to rising under 14s battled it out at Ocean Beach-Umina on the Central Coast.

From the Illawarra Branch, Helensburgh-Stanwell Park was the top-performing club finishing seventh on 126 points while Bulli was the next best in 26th spot on 21 points.

For the third year, powerhouse club Newport won the state carnival on overall points, this time by a huge margin over rival Manly, thanks to the efforts of key athletes including Hannah Minogue, Mitchell Trim, Georgia Miller and Dane Farrell, backed up by a strong squad across all age categories and disciplines.

The three days of competition for Illawarra athletes were a stand out with a host of surf lifesavers finishing on the podium particularly from the beach specialists, Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC.

NSW Team representative, Blake Drysdale made it one win from one start last weekend dominating the field in the Open Male Flags.

“It’s a big build up to the final couple of flags and you really have to be switched on. I’ve been focusing my attention on flags this year as I didn’t have a good season leading up for the sprints and I decided to really hammer down on the one event this year and luckily for me it’s paid off,” Blake Drysdale said.

Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC continued their dominance throughout the weekend claiming team gold medals in the Open Female Beach Relay, U15 Male Beach Relay, U17 Female & Male Beach Relay.

In the U19s, Avalon Punch was within centimetres of securing the flags and sprint gold double but was pipped at the post on the beach track by Renee Stortenbeker from Elouera SLSC. Jasmine Yew looks set to be a force for the remainder of the season winning the U17 Beach Flags.

“We had a lot of Helensburgh-Stanwell Park athletes here at this year’s State Champs. We’re a really tight group and we all train really hard down there so it’s great to finish the event with some outstanding results,” Blake Drysdale concluded.

The final day of the Open Championships was a memorable day for Bulli SLSC as President, Keith Caldwell received his Life Membership of Surf Life Saving NSW and to top it off, their U23 and Open Male Surf Boat crews took out gold.

Natalia Karakousis from Wollongong City SLSC was narrowly beaten in the U15 Flags by North Cronulla’s Alexandra Rampoldi while Sian Fennell (Thirroul) won her first NSW Open Championships gold medal in the U15 2KM Beach Run.

Pic: Blake Drysdale

Tue 15 Mar 2016