Umina-Ocean Beach Farewells State Titles

Over the three-day 2016 Surf Life Saving NSW Open Championships, close to 2500 beach and water athletes ranging from Olympians to professional surf stars through to rising under 14s competing up in Opens for the first time were whittled down to the finalists, and then the ultimate gold, silver and bronze medallists.

For the third year, powerhouse club Newport won the state carnival on overall points, this time by a huge margin from rivals Manly, thanks to the efforts of key athletes including Hannah Minogue, Mitchell Trim, Georgia Miller and Dane Farrell, backed up by a strong squad across all age categories and disciplines.

“NSW Titles are great because everyone gets behind it, every club want to get their team across the line and that’s what makes it exciting,” Minogue said, adding, “this is one of my favourite carnivals.” For her paddling prowess the part-time high school teacher finished the long weekend with a staggering five gold medals plus a bronze.

A large crowd gathered early Sunday afternoon to cheer on their favourite in the blue-ribbon Ironwoman and Ironman events and as always both finals produced a thrilling display of power and technique in mostly flat seas and light sea breezes. Miller went back-to-back for the third year and Farrell was too good for the star-studded line-up.

“Newport is like a family, we all support each other and want each other to go well,” Miller said having taken out the Ironwoman plus six additional gold in team and individual events. “You can expect a strong Newport presence at the Aussies next month and the next Summer of Surf. Bring on the next four weeks of training!”

“It’s great to be competing with Newport and I’m just stoked with my win today in the Open Ironman,” Dane Farrell added.

Ollie Signorini from Newport won the Under 19 Male Surf Race and in doing so became the newest recipient of the Saxon Bird Memorial perpetual trophy, to the delight of the late surf life saver’s parents, Dana and Phil Bird, who were on the beach watching the event play-out.

“It’s pretty special, Saxon was a local Northern Beaches boy as well and I’ve been doing his ocean swim for a couple of years,” Signorini said. “I know his parents are here watching and it was special to win the surf race in his honour.”

Dana Bird has watched Signorini compete in every Swim for Saxon, held annually at Queenscliff in Sydney, and said today’s victory was well-deserved. “I’m so happy that he won, he’s so good at ocean swims and has come to every Swim for Saxon. We’ve known Ollie since he was really little. Last year I said to him ‘please try and win next year’ and today I willed him on.”

Club mate Charlie Brooks took out the Under 19 Board Race and the Jacob Lollback Memorial trophy, awarded in memory of the late Yamba competitor.

Another emotion-charged moment came when Queenscliff’s Callum Lowe-Griffiths took out the Under 17 Ironman then broke down after the finish.

“My grandfather passed away last Thursday. It’s pretty hard racing this weekend, I was thinking about him all the time. He obviously looked after me for that race and I dedicate that win to him.”

Short-term the talented Northern Beaches teenager is trying to make the Australian team for the World Championships in September in the Netherlands and long-term his goal is “to go the whole way and become a professional ironman”.

Surf Life Saving NSW Sport Manager, Rob Pidgeon is thankful for the efforts of the dedicated team of volunteers over the Championships.

“The 2016 NSW Championships has been an outstanding success thanks to Ocean Beach and Umina SLSCs and it’s a fitting end to four years of hosting the event,” Rob Pidgeon said. “I would also like to thank ClubsNSW and Gosford City Council for their support of this great event.”

Surf clubs from as far north as Cudgen Headland (Kingscliff) and as far south as Narooma enjoyed superb conditions as Sydney’s long hot summer continues well into autumn. Spectators and competitors made the most of the fine weather, declared the best of the fourth and final carnival to be held at Umina and Ocean beaches before the event moves to Swansea-Belmont in 2017.

Open Championships Top Ten
1 Newport SLSC 509
2 Manly LSC 292
3 Wanda SLSC 221
4 Cronulla SLSC 212
5 North Cronulla SLSC 157
6 Umina SLSC 134
7 Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC 126
8 Elouera SLSC 122
9 Avoca Beach SLSC 121
10 Redhead SLSC 96

Full Open Championship results can be found on the Event Page

Photos: Newport Open Female Taplin Team, Saxon Bird Memorial Trophy L-R Phil Bird, Daniel Collins, Ollie Signorini, Jackson Borg and Dana Bird & Jacob Lollback Memorial Trophy L-R Harrison Stone, Charlie Brooks and Justin McMorland.

Mon 14 Mar 2016