Northern Beaches Showdown for State Title

On the morning of the Opens competition starting at the 2015 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, Manly and Newport rivalry is building to a crescendo.

Newport's Nick Carroll says it's all about building the strength of the team and giving top surf athletes a reason to stay in NSW rather than being lured to Queensland.

Newport has been building its arsenal of top flight athletes over the last few years, including Kendrick Louis, Mitch Trim, Tom Atkinson and more recently, Young Athlete of the Year Georgia Miller. Along with that a whole bunch of very promising youngsters are coming through the ranks who according to Carroll, “are just frothing to get into it.”

Newport narrowly won the State Title last year with just a handful of points separating them from the powerhouse Manly club.

"It's a great rivalry between us and we've always looked up to Manly, who are a true champion club and have been around performing well for a long time," said Carroll.

"To tell you the truth we were a bit surprised to win last year as it was so close. We are all very keen to defend the title. No doubt the Manly guys have been plotting their revenge," he laughed.

But it's not just a two way tussle he says, pointing to the strength in the branch generally and the great competition between many of the clubs, including Freshwater, Mona Vale and Queenscliff.

Carroll says the team can’t wait to get stuck into racing this weekend and while Kendrick Louis and Georgia Miller will lead the way, it’s the premier teams event, the Taplin Relay, which is one of the main goals.

“I think the Taplin is just the great Aussie surf race,” said Carroll. “You’ve got awesome individual athletes in each discipline but all competing as a team – we’re all looking forward to that.”

Carroll says Newport’s focus on building its competitive advantage stops short of actively trying to recruit or entice athletes to move to the club but rather set-up a high performance environment that supports athlete development.

“James Brooks has been such a powerful force in coaching and training and people are drawn to that I think. We concentrate on our own local kids and if someone wants to join us that’s great. If you’re on fire, people want to be part of it.”

A major boost early in the season was having coaching legend Trent Herring move to the club from Manly, and in the process taking a big personal and emotional risk according to Carroll.

“Trent has handled the transition impeccably and it’s gained him the respect of everyone, including his former Manly clubmates. At Newport all the kids love him.”

Two years ago Newport began on a mission to create a centre of excellence for surf sports development in NSW and it seems they’re well on the path to achieving that goal.

“We want to show kids they can stay here, that they don’t have to go to Queensland to be successful,” said Carroll.

Fri 13 Mar 2015