Over 2000 of the state’s finest surf sport athletes will converge on Blacksmiths Beach from Friday as the final competition of the 2018 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships kicks off.
Competitors from across the state will contest the U15, 17, 19 and Open events and with medals and glory on the line it promises to be a barnstorming competition.
Newport SLSC are gunning for their 5th consecutive title and led by familiar names such as Charlie and Max Brooks, Emily Doyle, Blake Drysdale, Jake Lynch, Georgia Miller, Oliver Signorini, NSW Captain Mitchell Trim and the emerging Morris Twins the Northern Beaches powerhouse are confident that they have the talent to once again sit on top of the standings.
They won’t have it all their own way with fierce rivals Manly boasting their own formidable line-up with Naomi Scott, Jay Furniss, and Kendrick Louis in strong form.
Over the three-competition days 83 clubs will be represented, highlighting the depth of surf sports in the state at present.
In many finals it will virtually be an Aussies-quality race which always brings the best out of the competitors.
Due to its geographical proximity, the Central Coast will be well represented at the event with Avoca, Umina, and Terrigal all fielding strong numbers this season. Rio Olympian Riley Fitzsimmons will be pulling on the cap of Avoca Beach, while Australian representatives Jemma Smith, Rachel Wood (Umina), and Tim Schofield (Terrigal) will all be on the start line.
Hunter athletes will be out to take full advantage of their local knowledge with Redhead competitors Daniel Collins, Isak and Lily Costello, and Nicola Owen keen to capitalise on their strong summer campaigns.
Hosts Swansea Belmont will again field a strong squad with the likes of Nicholas Stoddart, Angela Leadbeatter, Ashby Allen, Kurt Murphy and Beau McGregor keen to make the most of the Championships on their home break.
Cudgen Headland will boast a strong squad with Anthea Warne, Luke Chaffer, and Olissa Onley all making the trip, while Byron Bay will field Caitlin Callaghan who has enjoyed plenty of success over the last few seasons.
From Illawarra Lucas Ottaway (Bulli) performed strongly in the Age Championships and will be out to make the most of a step up to senior racing, while Mollymook will be out to show their break-out season on the sand in 2017 was no fluke with Sam Zustovich, Brock Scrivener, and Steine Lofts all committed to starting.
A number of competitors from the Far South Coast will make the long journey north with Lachlan Blake (Batemans Bay) keen to turn his Country Champs form into NSW success, while his club mate Geordie Kemp who flew under the radar to win the Beach Flags at Blacksmiths Beach last season as well as securing himself a bronze in the Beach Sprints will be hoping for more of the same when he takes to the track.
The State Championships also marks one of the last chances for the competitors to tune up ahead of next month’s Australian Titles to be held in Western Australia.
With the World Championships also on the horizon later this year there’s also spots on the Australian Life Saving team up for grabs, and strong performances at Lake Macquarie could certainly put the NSW athletes on the selectors’ radar.
NSW Surf Sports Manager Rob Pidgeon is anticipating a fantastic weekend of competition.
“It’s been an amazing couple of weeks at Swansea Belmont and we’ve been fortunate to have great conditions.
“We’re looking forward to a fitting finale to this year’s Championship and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Open competitors the very best of luck,” Mr Pidgeon said.
Thursday 8 March 2018