Former World and Australian champions were on show as the Sand Dancers took to the beach track at the 2020 NSW Masters Surf Life Saving Championships at Swansea Belmont this week.
In the men’s events, former two-time Australian Open Beach Sprint champion, Ocean Beach’s Darren Peters won the hotly contested 55-59 Beach Sprint, in a field which included his brother former Open Sprint champion Warren, along with Steve Hoy a former Open Beach Sprint medalist.
Open Beach Sprinter, Michael Kember, won the 30-34 Beach Sprint and the Beach Flags double in his first outing at a NSW Masters Championships.
Queenscliff’s Michael Gedz, a former four-time Australian Open Beach Relay champion, took out the 50-54 Yrs Sprint, Flags and the 200 Yrs Beach Relay with Ross Collins, Steve Hoy and Steve Nelson.
This is the 11th year in a row he has achieved the treble in his age group. Along with his 35 Australian gold medals, this is an outstanding achievement from an incredible athlete.
In the female divisions, Mollymook’s three-time Open Female Beach Sprint winner Ashley Smart (formerly Cheney) returned with Armelie Muller, Tegan Davies and Sue Keough to win the 140 Yrs Relay, 14 years after they last won the Australian Open Beach Relay together.
From the Illawarra, World and Australian champ, Davina Strauss from Coledale, won the 40-44 Yrs Sprint and Flags double.
Dixon Park’s Lisa Wright took gold in the 30-34 Yrs Sprint and Flags double with ease.
The team from Queenscliff were very strong on the beach as always, winning a total of 11 gold medals, including the women’s 200 Yrs relay team of Merrilee Lineger, Annabel Nelson, Kelly Mcfadden and Kylie Stewart. Queensie also won both the men’s and women’s 230 Yrs Beach Relays.
Queenscliff’s Helen Molloy was on fire in the 65-69 division, with gold in the Beach Flags, silver in the Beach Sprint and 1Km Beach Run and was part of the winning 230 Yrs Beach Relay team. She enjoys staying fit and healthy by competing in Masters events, however says it get harder to jump up in the Flags the older you get.
“I'm 66 and for 12 years I've been coming to State Champs and it's the camaraderie that keeps bringing me back. Runners don't get wet, that's why I love the beach events. It's great, coming back to Swansea.
“I run four times a week, train twice a week and do exercise bike twice a week and I'm still patrolling at Queenscliff beach. I'm going to keep coming back to State Champs until my body gives up.
“My great-nephews have started coming down to Queenscliff from Leichardt to Nippers and it's great. Our Masters runners are involved with coaching the Nippers and we love it,” said Helen.
In the Masters Surf Boat events there was plenty of carnage in the challenging conditions.
In the youngest age division, Queenscliff won gold in the 120 Yrs Male Surf Boat and the legendary Long Reef Vets bookended as the oldest competitors, taking out the 260 Yrs division.
The virtually unbeatable Batemans Bay Phoenix did exactly that – to rise from the ashes of the recent bushfires which devastated their small community and from recent injuries to claim the 180 Yrs Female Surf Boat, while the all-female (including the sweep Bec Hamilton) Sth Maroubra crew narrowly beat the Warriewood Rustys across the line for gold in the 200 Yrs division.
In the largest Masters division of the championships, the 200 Yrs Male Surf Boat, the Bilgola Older crew came across the line first with Nth Cronulla Vets in second place.
With Masters competition wrapped up for another year, the Opens have taken centre stage with events running through to Sunday’s finals action.
Friday 6 March 2020