Reeling in the Years

It was a case of the past meeting the present at the 2015 NSW Surf Life Saving Age Championships with the ongoing celebration of 100 years of surf sport competition.

Rescue and Resuscitation (R&R) and the March Past are two of the most historical events on the program having featured in the championships since the very early years.

Both these events require a highly technical and coordinated approach with the judges’ scrutinising every move. It is a throwback to the traditional skills of lifesavers, and as modern rescue techniques have evolved, for example the now accepted recovery position of placing a patient on their side, the sport has evolved along with it.

This year it was Collaroy SLSC which achieved the ultimate success winning a gold and bronze medal in Junior 2 Person division R&R. Emma Cherry and Alana de Kort were declared the winners with club mates Hayden Brannon and Kai Shimakage receiving the bronze. Gracie Kiely and Chloe Tyrrell (Freshwater) finished with silver.

In the 5 person event (for competitors aged 12-14 years old), the team from Coogee finished in first place, with Collaroy taking the silver, and Freshwater the bronze.

NSW Life member Robert Smith or “Chalkie” as he is universally known within the life saving fraternity casts a keen eye on the youngsters as part of his role as one of the judges in the R&R competition.

“It’s great that we are able to celebrate this event as part of the 100 years of surf sport,” he said on Saturday.

“We’ve got some wonderfully passionate people who are still involved and care deeply about the history and the traditions. It’s a shame that it’s no longer a premier event, but at least we still do have people who watch it.”

The 76-year-old loves the event as much as ever, but admits he does have concerns about the future of the sport.

“It’s a highly technical sport and takes a long time to learn all the little things to really make a good go of it.

“The numbers aren’t as high as they used to be, but I think that’s the case in a lot of different sports now,” said Chalkie.

On Sunday March 8 the ClubsNSW Arena was a sea of colour as competitors gathered for the traditional March Past. The young nippers carried traditional reels, and were accompanied by a bagpipe band as they made their way around the arena cheered on by a vocal crowd. Collaroy (Team A) finished first just ahead of Caves Beach with Manly (Team Blue) finishing with the bronze medal.

Top Picture: Action in the 2 Person R&R at the 2015 NSW Surf Life Saving Age Championships at Ocean Beach - Umina.
Middle: A lot has changed in terms of R&R techniques over the years as evident in this photograph from the 1930s.
Bottom: "Chalkie' Bob Smith

Mon 9 Mar 2015