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After nearly a decade bouncing between idyllic beaches on the NSW North Coast, the 2024 and 2025 Oakberry Acai NSW Surf Life Saving Country Championships will move to a new home – that of the defending champions, Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC.

For the first time since 2015, when Mollymook SLSC wrapped up a hosting period of two years with a fourth-place overall point score finish on home turf, the South Coast will welcome some of the state’s most talented and exciting surf sports athletes for three days of elite competition.

The premier event for regional surf life saving clubs has since visited South West Rocks SLSC, Cudgen Headland SLSC and Cape Hawke SLSC, and is second only to the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships in size with an expected 1,500 competitors, 200 officials and around 4,000 spectators over the course of the event.

Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Surf Sports, Don van Keimpema said the beach, as well as the location itself, lent itself perfectly to the hosting of the Country Championships.

“From the shallow inlet at Barrack Point, near the entrance to Elliot Lake, up to the northern headland by the mouth of Lake Illawarra, Warilla Beach is a huge stretch of sand that we can’t wait to bring surf sports to over the coming two years,” he said.

“Warilla itself is only about 20 minutes from Wollongong and 15 minutes from Kiama which will provide our competitors two major hubs to the north and south to base themselves from with plenty of accommodation options.

“Cape Hawke has been an excellent host over the past two years and really put on a show for our travelling clubs; it’s going to be exciting to see what Warilla-Barrack Point serves up, particularly after they broke Cudgen’s six-year hold on the overall point score title in 2023.”

Indeed, Warilla-Barrack Point will have a target on its back when clubs from outside the Hunter to Illawarra corridor descend on their patch, after a multi-year project to formulate an assault on Cudgen’s recent Country Championships dominance ended in success earlier this year.

They’ll just need to hope the return to the South Coast doesn’t bring with it the luck that followed them eight years ago – Warilla finished second in each of the two years Mollymook hosted the event, trailing Byron Bay SLSC but sitting ahead of rivals, Cudgen on both occasions.

Despite this, some of the same names who had great success all those years ago will suit up once again. Jordan White picked up a first and a second in the Open Female Iron in Mollymook, while Bailey Krstevski, then in a Shellharbour cap, picked up a win in the U11 Male Iron in 2015.

Both competitors will hit the beach next year as favourites in their respective events, with Jordan defending another win in the Open Female category while Bailey was victorious this time in the U19 Male Iron in Cape Hawke.

Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC’s Club President, Alan Beveridge is eager to welcome clubs from across the state to the South Coast.

“Our club is extremely proud to be able to host the Country Championships for the next two seasons. The competition will be exciting, fair and, most of all, enjoyable,” he said.

“It will also be an opportunity to catch up with friends we have been competing against over the years.

“We can’t wait to welcome everyone.”

Once again, Oakberry Acai Australia will be the Naming Rights Partner for the event, seeing it officially labelled the 2024 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships.

“As the Naming Rights Partner of this prestigious event for the third consecutive year, Oakberry Acai is affirming its love of the beaches and the oceans and its commitment to the importance of Surf Life Saving,” Oakberry Acai Australia CEO, Renan Pinto said.

“Surf Life Saving makes our beaches safer and more enjoyable for the whole community and the dedication of the good people who join the surf clubs and volunteer their time is something that deserves as much support as possible.

“We are indeed fortunate in Australia to have such beautiful beaches and oceans, and by supporting the work of the surf lifesavers, the surf clubs and of Surf Life Saving NSW, we are helping to ensure that our beaches and our oceans are places for everyone to enjoy.”

The 2024 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships will run from 26-28 January 2024.

Wednesday 19 April 2023