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Under 9s and 10s wrapped up their title tilts and U11-U14 got their first taste of the action as the 2023 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly supported by Your local club, continued along Queenscliff and Manly Beach.

Weather much more befitting of a State Championship event, save for a handful of showers in the morning, greeted competitors as competition extended across a further two water areas to accomodate the inclusion of Board Rescue and the Cameron Relay into the timetable.

The U10 competitors hit the water for the first time, and many of the same names who sprung into the picture last year managed to feature once again.

Returning champion Liam Blair from Swansea Belmont SLSC would go on to finish head and shoulders above the chasing pack in the U10 Male Surf Race, backing up his win in the U9s last year. Meanwhile, Willem Botha of Elouera SLSC improved on last year’s third place to move one spot up the podium. He will be eyeing first, no doubt, in his U11 season.

Some hours later, Willem would add a second silver medal to his tally, this time in the Board. Clubmate Jacob Gillard was first past the post, just one year after claiming second place in the same event.

Coogee SLSC’s Sophie Rowles became one of the first new names to feature in the winners column, taking out the U10 Female Surf Race ahead of Cudgen Headland SLSC’s Scarlett Mison and Millie Gaudry of Manly LSC. Millie, notably, was the U9 Female Surf Race winner in 2022.

Later, in the U10 Female Board, defending champion Tully Kippax was quite literally pipped at the post in a sprint finish with Haley Avard, the latter registering a second win for Coogee on the day by just outpacing the star Black Head SLSC athlete.

Sticking with the water but shifting north from Manly to Queenscliff, and seven different winners across four age categories showed the depth and competitiveness of the Board Rescue event – only North Bondi SLSC could muster more than a single win, in the U14 Male and U11 Female.

A Swansea Belmont one-two was the highlight of the other Board Rescue races, while Cooks Hill SLSC and Freshwater SLSC picked up gold medals as well.

On the beach, U9 competitors enjoyed their first Sprints, Flags and Relays of what will hopefully be many long and storied State Championships careers.

A pair of dual winners emerged from the Sprint and Flags, with Harlow Pate from Thirroul SLSC and Nicholas Kondilios from South Maroubra SLSC taking out the Female and Male of each category, respectively.

Of note, though, was the performance of young Jasmine Shardlow in the Flags – the Cronulla SLSC athlete showing she will be a fearsome competitor to watch in the coming years on her way to a silver medal.

South Maroubra’s success filtered through to the Beach Relays, where their team picked up a win in the Mixed event. The excitement from the Freshwater team, however, who picked up the bronze, was infectious. The quartet of Emily Little, Heidi Dunn, Ethan Taylor and Archie Regan already have the sights set on next year.

The day ended with a home beach crowd pleaser – Felix Stephens of North Steyne SLSC picking up a win in the U12 Male 1km Beach Run. Warilla Barrack Point SLSC’s Pixie Hanson picked up a win in the U12 Female 1km, while North Avoca SLSC’s Hamish Shorter put one on the board for the Central Coast in the U11 Male 1km.

Wanda claimed first and second in the U13 Female 2km, with Kyah Gallen and Layla White topping the podium.

The 2023 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly presented by Your local club, continues tomorrow with a spate of beach and water events for U11-U14 ahead of a bumper finals day on Sunday.

Next week, Masters and Open athletes will compete, along with Surf Boats.

For Live and Full Result, click here.

Friday 24 February 2023