Open Surf Champs Heats Up

Day one of the 2016 NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championships, proudly supported by ClubsNSW, brought the best swell in three consecutive weekends of State Championship competition staged at Umina-Ocean Beach.

The swell influenced early results when the front runners were able to beat the breakers, leaving those less quick to be hammered by the foam. On the swim and board legs back to the beach the waves generated the opportunity to close the gap.

Sydney has recorded 34 consecutive days above 26C and the run of warm and dry weather continued on Friday March 11, 2016, light nor’easters and club tents providing some relief from the extended summer.

All the big names expected to feature come finals time on Sunday began their Open medal chase strongly; Dane Farrell, Georgia Miller, Nathan Smith, Lizzie Welborn and Jemma Smith.

In the younger age bracket Cudgen Headland SLSC’s Under 15s achieved early success, Anthea Warne gold medalling in the Rescue Tube event & Josh Jones picking up silver in the Male event.

Wanda’s Mia Ross and Kiera Warn won the Under 14 Female Board Rescue at last weekend’s Age champs and again today, this time competing up in the Under 15s. Warn said they couldn’t take too much from last week’s win to today’s Age victory due to the fact conditions were so different. “Last week there was a really big sandbank and it was really flat, today it was deeper and we had waves.”

The pair scored a comfortable first gold for the championship when they paddled furiously and found themselves riding solo on a timely wave. “I said to Kiera ‘don’t nosedive’”, Moss laughed.

Avoca Beach’s Under 15 Male Board Rescue gold medal winning pair of Levi Kasun and Finn Flaherty enjoyed the chance to race in the event that was called off last year due to poor conditions forcing a timetable reshuffle.

“The weekend should be good. This year’s been the best for weather, the waves help on the way back but not on the way out,” Flaherty said.

Tahlia Kollen and Sophie McConnachie from Sawtell SLSC are two among a small team of North Coast competitors who have travelled to the Central Coast to face the much larger Sydney clubs.

The talented Under 17 surf sports competitors took out the Under 19 Board Rescue final then lined up immediately after for the same event in their age group, still trying to catch their breath. A strong paddle by McConnachie put the Sawtell teammates among the lead contenders then they opted for the same strategy that reaped them the gold medal in the age above, only this time the water wasn’t as shallow.

“We got off the board too early,” Kollen admitted. “Conditions keep changing each race with the tide,” McConnachie chimed in. “For the 19s we got off our board early to run and it worked. Only 15 minutes later in the next race it didn’t!”

Keep an eye out for these two in the board, swim, ski and iron individual and teams events.

For four years the event has been well supported by the Gosford City Council and local community and today Umina Public School visited the competition arena, swelling the numbers already estimated to be around 2500 athletes plus their supporters.

The forecast for Saturday is for more sunny weather thanks to a slow moving high pressure system over the Eastern Tasman Sea directing sea breezes, 15-20 knots, onto the Central Coast.

The 2016 NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championships are proudly supported by ClubsNSW and will continue Saturday and Sunday 12-13 March at Ocean Beach-Umina.

Photos: courtesy Stephen Chu

Fri 11 Mar 2016