Open Athletes Eye Off State Glory

Over 2,300 of the state’s finest surf life savers will gather at Blacksmiths Beach in Lake Macquarie tomorrow for their chance to etch their name into the history books as the 2017 NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championships gets underway on Friday.

Over 90 of the 129 NSW based clubs will be represented at the three-day championship from tomorrow which is always a highlight on the domestic surf sport calendar.

The open athletes (those in the U15,17, 19, and open age groups) have been very interested spectators as first the Age and then Master Championships have been held in challenging conditions and will be hoping for a fair swell which will allow them to show of the full range of their skills.

Clubs from Sydney Northern Beaches and Sydney will field the largest team with 802 and 759 competitors registered respectively.

Rival powerhouse clubs Newport and Manly are expected to go head-to-head in yet another titanic struggle.

With both clubs fielding plenty of talent including athletes who have represented Australia and competed on the professional Iron circuit this should be an intriguing battle to watch.

Central Coast will be sending over 200 athletes with a mixture of young up and coming athletes and more established stars such as Jemma Smith and Olympian Lachlan Tame. Buoyed by home advantage, Hunter will be fielding a squad of 202 competitors.

Hosts Swansea Belmont have named 43 athletes to start including Eliza Johnson who will be competing at her first Open Championship after performing strongly in her final Nippers carnival last weekend.

The Redhead pair of Isak Costello and Dan Collins will be full of confidence after their maiden performance on the Ironman circuit and will be out to prove themselves against their key rivals.

Around 150 athletes from the Far North Coast through to Lower North Coast will be heading south to Lake Macquarie and with a group of these involved in Cudgen Headland’s drought-breaking win at last month’s Stramit Country Championships they will be quietly confidence of putting in a strong performance.

Just over 100 athletes will be travelling from clubs around the Illawarra and the results of their branch championships suggests they are primed for a good performance on the big stage. Illawarra have traditionally produced excellent beach sprinters and this was reinforced once more last week at the Junior Championships; something that there senior colleagues will be undoubtedly hoping to emulate.

In a pleasing sign there is a small yet committed contingent of athletes travelling from Southern NSW.

A group of 60 from clubs including Mollymook and Warilla-Barrack Point will make the trip. A number of these athletes including Matt Sperring, Maddison Prior and Jordan White were selected in the all-conquering NSW Country team that were victorious in the Trans-Tasman Series in New Zealand earlier this year.

They may have the furthest to travel as the crow flies but the 21 athletes from the Far South Coast including Broulee Surfers won’t be making up the numbers as they look to the challenge of testing themselves against the best from NSW – something that only happens on occasions due to the tyranny of distance.

NSW Surf Sports Manager Rob Pidgeon is looking forward to the Open Championship.

“We’ve seen some excellent competition over the past week in Age and Masters, and I am sure our Open competitors have been aware of how they have been handling the conditions. “I think we’re in for an excellent few days of racing and I would like to wish all athletes and officials the very best of luck,” Mr Pidgeon said.

The 2017 NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championships proudly supported by Your local club will be held at Blacksmiths Beach, Swansea from Friday 10 until Sunday 12 March. Competition will commence on Day 1 at approximately 8am AEDT subject to conditions.

Thu 9 Mar 2017