Wauchope Rowers’ State Journey

A small country club it may be, but Wauchope-Bonny Hills pride in its surf boat culture was clearly evident at the 2015 NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championships held last weekend on the state’s Central Coast.

The Reserve Division crew affectionately named The Rejects and The Rusty Hooks (U19) crew both made the trip down the highway for what proved to be a high quality competition at Ocean Beach-Umina.

This season marks the third that the Reserve crew has been together, while the U19s are enjoying their rookie competitive season.

The club’s Boat Captain Tony Kee was delighted that two crews were able to compete, and is hopeful of a bigger representation at next month’s Australian titles.

“Our senior crews, women and U23s couldn’t make the trip down but we’re confident of getting everyone to Aussies.

“Our under 19s are having an absolute ball together and it’s great they came down to State Champs. They’ve made a couple of rookie errors that all surf boat crews make but they are learning as they go, and have competed regularly this season and are performing well.”

Kee is understandably proud of his club’s history of surf boats, and wants to do his part in ensuring that the traditions are passed on.

“We’ve really got a strong surf boat culture at our little club as there are plenty of juniors coming through,” he said.

“The challenge is, as it always has been is keeping them after they leave school. Once things like work happens or they move away for study it does get harder to keep them together.

“It is great to be able to give them options though and to make people feel a part of the life saving movement as a whole.”

Keeping the next generation of surf boat rowers engaged with the sport is regarded as a challenge nationally, but the affable Key believes that in Northern NSW at least, the competition is as good as it has even been.

“I think the North Coast is actually bucking the trend a bit when it comes to the participation rate in surf boats.

“We still have a very strong competition and are prepared to travel in numbers, which is really pleasing given the enormous amount of time and travel needed to get to and from events,” he said.

While neither crew made the finals of the State Championships they still thoroughly enjoyed the experience in the at times difficult conditions.

“We had a great time at State Champs and now it’s a good time to go home, refresh and really look forward to our trip north next month,” Kee said.

Thu 19 Mar 2015