Illawarra Happy With Interbranch Effort

A sixth placed finish for the Illawarra Branch at the 2016 NSW Interbranch Championships was enough to give confidence that the region’s best surf sport athletes are on an upward trajectory.

Held at The Lakes SLSC last weekend, 40 of the best Illawarra surf competitors ultimately finished sixth overall behind a strong field led by the champion-winning Sydney team.

Only 16 points behind Sydney was Sydney Northern Beaches who lost their two-year stranglehold on the trophy with the defeat. Hosts Central Coast cemented third spot whilst Hunter and Country Champions Far North Coast rounded out the top five.

There were strong performances predicted in the junior events, and this latest batch didn’t disappoint. Jasmine Yew (Thirroul) also won the Youth Beach Sprint and was beaten by Alexandra Rampoldi (Sydney) to claim second in the Flags.

One of Illawarra’s greatest strengths has always been on the sand and this was again highlighted by some sensational performances. Brandon Morkos (Bellambi) took out the U14 Beach Flags and was third in the Sprint.

Towradgi’s Sam Zustovich won the U15 Beach Flags after fierce rival Sam Stonestreet (Sydney) broke early on the last flag, while also flying the Towradgi flag was Open’s sprinter Yvette Avery.

Despite being on holidays for the two weeks prior to the event, the talented 17 year old made light work of the Sprint coming home third past the post. She continued her good form in the Flag event where she finished a close second behind Sydney's Ngaire Hadfield.

“I just had two weeks holiday, so to come back from that and achieve the results is pretty good,” Yvette Avery said.

“I’ve been in the Illawarra Interbranch team for since U13s so to be back on the beach with the team is very exciting and it’s a good environment.”

In the water, Bulli’s Kaimana Fittock and Zara Sharman were dominant in the U15’s winning a host of individual and team races.

Kaimana took out the Surf and Board Race while Zara won the Ironwoman. Also for Bulli, Chealsea Jones won the U12 Female Surf Race and in the U13’s Female Surf Race and Ironwoman, Holly Holmesby finished second and third respectively.

“We’re always strong in the beach events. Daniel Robbards does an outstanding job with the athletes and they really performed well. Overall there were 16 beach events and we placed in the top three in 10 of them,” said Illawarra Director of Surf Sports Keith Caldwell.

“Our U15 girls absolutely smashed it on Saturday, winning multiple individual and team events. They had a good hard day of racing with challenging surf conditions but it’s about learning new skills and improving.

“We’ve got a few years to go until we try and get up to fifth and fourth spot. It’s all about development and we just have to keep trying our best for the Illawarra,” he said.

The 2017 NSW Interbranch Championships will be held at Stockton SLSC on 9 and 10 December which was announced at the presentation ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

Full list of results and photos at www.surflifesaving.com.au/interbranch.

Photo: Youth Beach Flags winner Jazmine Yew.

Tue 13 Dec 2016