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Newport’s stellar performance over three days of racing, including winning both the Open Male and Female Iron events, looks to have secured them an incredible eighth straight NSW Championships title.

The 2021 NSW Open Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly supported by Your local club, wrapped up at Swansea Belmont and Redhead SLSCs on Sunday. With Lifesaving events and the Surfboat competition still to run in coming weeks, the sizable lead held by the Newport club will no doubt see them crowned NSW Champions yet again.

Newport caps were in the lead in almost every race with the standout performances of power couple Maddie Spencer and Jackson Borg sealing the deal. Spencer took out the Open Female Board race and shortly after overtook Manly’s Naomi Scott on the run up the beach to win the Open Ironwoman.

Spencer along with Emily Doyle and Lizzie Welborn also won the Open Board Relay and the Surf Teams. For emphasis, Spencer powered up the beach to overtake Nth Bondi’s Lily Finati in the final leg of the premier event, the Open Taplin Relay. Jemma Smith looked to take out the Single Ski race comfortably and with the team, the Open Ski Relay.

“It’s been a huge three weeks but we’ve all been really excited to get back to teams racing again,” said Maddie Spencer. “We’ve got some really good teams combos in both male and female right through the divisions. Last night we were sitting behind Wanda in the point score so we were all keen to rip in, do our best and get it done today and we’ve come home with a great result.

“To win the Ironwoman today was very unexpected,” said Spencer, “I would have been happy with a podium spot but to get the win on the sprint finish up the beach –  I was over the moon.”

The Newport boys were just as impressive, with Borg leading the way, winning the Open Ironman and Surf Teams races. Mitch Trim cruised home first in the Open Ski and with Max Brooks and Jayke Rees in the Ski Relay.

Borg was hungry for the win in the Open Ironman after gold in 2019 but coming second to Max Brooks last year. “Ï wanted to get three in a row but Max stuffed it up for me last year,” laughed Borg.

The Morris boys were formidable as expected, teaming up to win the U19 Male Board Relay and Mitch and Jake teamed up with Bailey Clues to win the U17 Board and Ski Relays and the Taplin. The U15s proved just as strong with Ironman champion Conner Maggs heading the charge, teaming up with Josh Kerr and Lex Raffles in the Board Relay and Board Rescue, and with Harry Capell in the Cameron Relay. The boys also won the Surf Teams event.

“This is a fantastic achievement for the club,” said Newport President Glen Borg. “There are so many people who have helped us come together and get this great eighth win in a row. What’s great is the new competitors coming up through the ranks are all contributing, from sixth places through to gold medals. It’s easy to look at the highlights with Open Iron and Taplin wins but it’s also important and great to see the real depth in the team. We have young men and women coming through picking up results across the board and we still have First Aid and Surf Boats to come where we should see our points increase again.”

Second-placed Wanda fought the good fight and was on top of the point score after a super strong day on the beach track on Saturday. Showing versatility across all disciplines, the Open Male R&R (Rescue and Resuscitation) went their way, with silver in the 6-Person.

Nathan Smith and Hayden Allum won the Open Board Rescue, Nathan Jay the U19 Ironman and Surf Race (Saxon Bird Memorial Trophy), and he teamed up with Noah Steiner and Nick Middleton to win the U19 Taplin.

Strength in the younger divisions won them valuable points, with Fletcher Warn taking gold in the U15 Surf Race, Riley Dixon in the U19 Belt Race and the Rescue Tube Rescue, and Tahli Christensen, Hanah Dalgleish, and India Hulbert winning the U15 Female Cameron Relay.

Possibly one of the greatest performances was from the combined Swansea Belmont team, putting the club on the podium in third place overall, up from seventh place last year.

Kye Taylor looked to be unstoppable, racing over and over again throughout the weekend in individual and team events. He won the U19 Board Race and the Jacob Lollback Trophy. He teamed up with Beau McGregor in the U19 Male Board Rescue and was second in the U19 Taplin relay with Nick Stoddart and Josh Murphy.

In a heartbreaking finish to the Open Male Board Relay, it was a ding dong race between Manly’s Harrison Stone, Angus McPhail, and Stewart McLachlan and the Swansea boys. Nick Stoddart gave his all in the final leg run up the beach, collapsing across the line a few inches short of Manly’s Stone.

Bailey Connelly was the U19 Male Ski Champion and won the Double Ski with Josh Murphy.

Hitting the U19 age group this year, Bella Williams had a busy first State Champs competing for her new club Swansea Belmont, winning the U19 Female Ski Relay with Eliza Johnson and Lara Manning. Williams and Johnson, along with Isabella Campbell won the U19 Female Taplin.

Eliza continued the charge to get gold in the U19 Ironwoman and Single Ski races.

Zara Foran was all over the U15s, with the highlight winning the Board Rescue with Lola Russell.

Host club president Graham Burge said he was very proud of the competitors, and his team of dedicated workforce volunteers who have brought the last five State Championships to fruition.

“We’re very proud of our competitors, they’ve all excelled. Their coaches have trained them so hard and they’re now priming for Aussies,” said Burge.

“When our Workforce hears our competitors being called first, second or third on the speaker system it gives them a real lift and is the driving force and motivation to keep going, knowing the club is going well out there on the beach too.”

The Swansea Belmont volunteers can’t put their feet up yet, with two more big weekends of racing to come with the Lifesaving and Masters events next, followed by the high-flying action of the Surf Boats on 19-21 March to conclude this year’s Championships.

Lake Macquarie City Council and Your local club have been proud sponsors of the event for the last five years at Swansea Belmont. The location for the 2022 NSW Championships has yet to be announced.

At the most northern end of the beach at Redhead SLSC, the beach events including Sprints, Flags, Relays and the 2km Beach Run were held on Saturday 6 March. Due to COVID, beach events were separated by venue and were, therefore, able to be held on a single day of competition. 

From the youngest divisions in Under 15s right through to Opens, the competition was as fierce as ever particularly with a number of athletes staying fit and dominating track events in the offseason. 

Grace Hewitt from Fingal Beach SLSC came off a very successful track season only to back up her top results in State Champs 2020. Hewitt once again took home the dual State Titles in the Open and Under 17s Female Beach Sprint but narrowly missed out on a Flags title with Emelyn Wheeler from Terrigal too strong in the final sprint. 

"I was pretty nervous for both finals. I just had to conserve my energy then switch on and focus on my mental game on the race. My coach was confident in me coming into the finals today. I train hard so I just had to get out there run the race," She said. 

It was the Bate Bay clubs who dominated the relays with Wanda, Elouera and Cronulla cleaning up 12 of the State Titles for the team events but Mollymook's top team including Amy Joy, Brock Scrivener, Jake Stewart and Payton Williams took down the Open Mixed Beach Relay. 

Up-and-comer Peter Thoroughgood from Elouera got an inch on Ace Haslam in the Under 17 Male Beach Sprint to back up his title and winning his third consecutive Beach Sprits Title since moving into the senior's competition. 

"I came down and ran my hardest and gave it my all here. I've spent four years racing against Max (Geronimo, Cronulla) every carnival. He's always given me a good challenge and it gave me a good run out here today," said Thoroughgood.  

Coffs Harbour's Hudson Barry returned this year for the 2km Beach Run and once again returned to the North Coast with a State Title. The 16 year old continues to show great promise in the distance beach events. It was Jessie Phelps of Wanda who took out both the Open and Under 19s Female Beach run while the Northern Beaches clubs dominated the Under 15 and 17 division with Jasmin Robinson (Avalon Beach) winning the 15s and Janneke Wegenaar (North Curl Curl) holding the pace in the 17s. 

In the Open Female Flags, beach triplet Leah Rampoldi finally got the better of Mollymook's Payton Williams (who has held the last two titles in the Rampoldi's divisions) and claimed her first individual beach State Title. "I've won my first ever Flags Gold here today so really happy," said Leah. "Most of my training has been based around trying to get my turns perfect around Payton. I've been training and competing against my sisters which has really helped in the leadup to this year's State Champs." 

To round out the day the top-performing male beach athletes in Australia took to the sand. Newport's Jake Lynch made his comeback after a long rest due to injury and the competition was going to be tough with fellow competitors Blake Drysdale (Newport) and Sam Zustovich (Mollymook) in top form. Zustovich was successful in defending two of his three 2020 titles in the Under 19 Flags and Sprints but missed out in the Opens Flags taking home a bronze medal. 

It was three times Australian Open Flags champ Blake Drysdale who edged out teammate Jake Lynch who sadly dislocated his shoulder, after getting it caught under Blake in the final two.

Drysdale had a short lead into the State Championships after he and his Australian Open Beach Champion wife Laura Shorter welcomed the couple's daughter Riley in December but will no ramp up with hopes of defending his Australian Flags Title in Queensland in April. 

Michael Hanna (Elouera) took out his fourth consecutive Open Male Beach Sprint State Title (Hanna is undefeated in the Beach Sprint throughout his career since 2017) out-running James Smith (Wanda) and Jake Lynch (Newport).

"I've just been training as hard as I can in the leadup to this year's State Champs," said Hanna. "Each season I'm just trying to get better and better as I go. I take my time in the warmups and keep everything nice and consistent in training then when I get to this point it's just about running as fast as I can. On the day I try not to think about anyone else but it was really good to have great competitors on the line with me this year."

Top 20 Overall Pointscore

  1. Newport SLSC, 466

  2. Wanda SLSC, 390

  3. Swansea Belmont SLSC, 241

  4. Manly LSC, 151

  5. Coogee SLSC, 139

  6. North Bondi SLSC, 129

  7. Cronulla SLSC, 113

  8. Elouera SLSC, 112

  9. Mollymook SLSC, 94

  10. Bulli SLSC, 88

  11. North Cronulla SLSC, 71

  12. Cooks Hill SLSC, 66

  13. North Curl Curl SLSC, 65

  14. Warilla Barrack Point SLSC, 62

  15. Avoca Beach SLSC, 50

  16. Terrigal SLSC, 46

  17. Cudgen Headland SLSC, 38

  18. Freshwater SLSC, 33

  19. Redhead SLSC, 31

  20. Wamberal SLSC, 28

Sunday 7 March 2021