Young Lifesavers Set to Shine at Age Champs

Three thousand eager-eyed youngsters will be hoping to make their mark at the NSW Surf Life Saving Age Championships, which gets underway from Friday on the Central Coast.

The 3-day event has extra significance this year as the Surf Life Saving community celebrates the Centenary of Surf Sports in NSW.

For many of the younger competitors, especially those not yet old enough to enter the Australian titles, the State Championships are the pinnacle of achievement, and many of surf’s most successful athletes such as 2012 Olympian Naomi Flood, and Ironman Kendrick Louis started their journeys here.

There’s been a slight change in the competition format for 2015 with the youngest competitors now starting in the Under 9 age group.

Surf Life Saving NSW Sports Manager Shane Knight is confident of a successful event.

“We are delighted to once again be at Ocean Beach – Umina for what promises to be a highly entertaining three-days of racing. Both clubs have been wonderful hosts, and we have our fingers crossed for some good weather.

“The Age Championships are one of the highlights on the calendar for clubs, families, and competitors alike and we wish all the kids the very best of luck,” Mr Knight said.

A number of athletes from the Far North Coast will make the trek south, with Byron Bay’s Zoe Hughes, Bradley Hunt and Tex Hembrow expected to perform strongly after their recent showing at the Country Championships. Cudgen Headland’s Hayley Smith, Tom Swift and Joseph Warne are all tipped to perform strongly, while Yamba’s rising star Kalani Ives is hopeful of adding to her ever-growing medal haul.

Liam Bartlett (Woolgoolga) and Olissa Onley (Coffs Harbour) are flying the flag for the North Coast Branch with the Mitchell brothers Joe and Fred also ones to watch in the water. On the beach, Liam Nisbet (Bellinger Valley-North Beach) is looking to add to his impressive run of results in 2015, with club mate Max Shaw also one to watch.

Fresh from his impressive win at the Country Champs, young Tahj Thrower of Tacking Point will be hoping to be among the medallists alongside club mates Paige Leishman and Jessie Carroll. The small delegation from South West Rocks led by the Askew brothers Harry, Finn and Liam is also hoping to make an impression for the Mid North Coast Branch.

Leading the way for Hunter Branch in 2015 will be Saxon Coates of Cooks Hill and Swansea Belmont’s Ben Rees. There are high hopes for Jack O’Callaghan (Caves Beach), and Kyle Lehmann (Catherine Hill Bay) who have also been in recent good form.

The Central Coast by way of home advantage will be represented by a large delegation of clubs. Lachlan Braddish and Bronte Smith from Umina have been in exceptional form this summer, and are looking for that to continue at their home beach. Terrigal’s Lucy Hayes, Ava Latu and Emelyn Wheeler will also be out for glory in their respective events, with Avoca Beach’s Macy Callaghan and the Flaherty boysFinn and Owen also expected to perform well.

Sydney will be well represented at the State Championships with Tiger Walker and Summer Walker (Bronte), Cronulla’s Samuel Stonestreet, Leo Nosatti (North Cronulla), James Stortenbeker (Elouera) and Malikye Kessie (South Maroubra) all expected to feature strongly in their respective events. Their rivals from the Sydney Northern Beaches will also be looking to finish high in the overall point-score with Manly’s Piper Harrison and Tyler Krenkels hoping to continue their hot form. Manly will want to retain its overall Age Championship title, having won the last five years in a row.

From one of surf sport’s royal families, Harrison Mercer (Austinmer) is tipped to fly the flag for the Illawarra Branch, while further south Warilla-Barrack Point’s Kasey and Keelan Ashburner are expected to perform strongly.

Narooma’s Jack Bennett and Nowra Culburra’s Holly Abbey are part of a small but competitive delegation who will make the journey from the Far South Coast, and will be out to build on their impressive results from both the Country Championships and last year’s state titles.

Of course like any surf event, there is always the potential for upsets and every youngster lining up on the start-line will be out to make their mark in this historic year.

The 2015 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships will be co-hosted by Ocean Beach and Umina SLSCs and is proudly supported by ClubsNSW and Gosford City Council.

Almost 7000 competitors from all over NSW, along with 600 volunteer officials and up to 15,000 family and spectators are anticipated to attend the championships, injecting an estimated $15 million into the local economy.

2015 NSW Surf Life Saving Championship Dates:

Lifesaving Competition 28 February - 1 March 2015
Age Championships 6-8 March 2015
Masters Championships 11-12 March 2015
Open Championships 13-15 March 2015

For further information about the championships and to follow live results please refer to our event page on the Surf Life Saving Website or Facebook

Photo: Youngsters put it all on the line at the 2014 State Champs.

Tue 3 Mar 2015