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The NSW Surf Boat Interbranch Championships is returning to Queenscliff Beach in Sydney this Sunday. Over 250 of the state’s best athletes from six branches are ready to go head-to-head.

Defending champions Sydney Northern Beaches will be hard to beat with a team stacked with three Australian champion crews, including the Under 23 Male champions the Palm Beach Peppers, Under 23 Female champions Newport Thunder and Under 19 Female champions South Curl Curl Bumps N Humps.

Despite the recent NSW fire disaster, the heavily affected Far South Coast Branch is sending three crews and will have four drafted crews from North Cronulla, Newport and Maroubra SLSCs.

There’s always strong rivalry between Sydney Northern Beaches and Sydney Branch but each of the other teams is also fielding strong crews, many of whom were Australian Championship finalists. When the country clubs combine with city drafts they have highly competitive teams so anything could happen on the day when surf conditions are thrown into the mix.

Broulee Surfers SLSC sweep Gary Pettigrove has high hopes for the team after a very traumatic and testing Christmas and New Year period for his club and branch.

“This event is bringing us all back together,” said Gary, “it’s giving everyone something positive to focus on and look forward to.

“We got scattered and disorganised as a result of the fires. It really affected everyone. Every time you’d get a text message for the last couple of weeks you’d worry it was a fire evacuation alert. It was a very traumatic period. Our Reserve Men spent over 12 hours manning the evacuation centre at Broulee surf club providing first aid and helping our community members,” said Gary

Over the last week the three crews, two of whom live and train in Canberra, have been training hard and are excited to be travelling to Sydney.

“We’ve been doing sprint work all week at training and it’s been tough,” he said. “Before Christmas, we were heading into the George Bass Marathon event which was all heavy endurance training and now we’re having to wind up our fast-twitch muscles again. We’re going to need to go more than twice as fast over a very short distance.”

But Gary says he has an excellent team thanks to the combined forces of his crews and strong drafts from the bigger Sydney clubs.

“Both our Reserve crews won the South Coast Surf Boat series and the Open Women made the semi-finals at last year’s Australian Championships. The drafts are great and we’ve had the North Cronulla crews drafted before so we’re really looking forward to racing hard with a good team.”

For carnival referee Greg Heard, the Interbranch Surf Boat Championships has been a pet project for a number of years. For the last three years, surf boats have had a stand-alone competition to the main Interbranch event. “The crews and teams love the concept and love being able to compete in a teams event outside club competitions,” said Greg. “At the start of the day the Branches are made up of eight teams but by the time the relay is up, they’re one team. “

The Interbranch event is a great way to give athletes the opportunity to represent their branch and the chance to race in a different format that helps many strengthen their race skills. The drafting also brings together teams across the whole state with many new friendships formed.

The NSW Interbranch Surf Boat Championships is a round-robin format of racing with each team racing three times across each division; Open, Reserves, Under 23s and Under 19s.

The Interbranch format also includes the exciting all teams relay. Each of the eight crews team together for the final event of the day. “It’s fantastic to watch all the crews go 100 per cent for their team,” said Greg. “There are lead changes over and over again as each crew interchanges and everyone is right behind their team, it’s a great way to finish the day.”

The team with the highest accumulated points score will be the 2020 NSW Interbranch Surf Boat Champions.

The 2020 NSW Surf Boat Interbranch Championships: 8am, Sunday 19 January 2020 at Queenscliff Beach.

2020 NSW Surf Boat Interbranch Championship Teams 

  • Mid North Coast

  • Central Coast

  • Sydney Northern Beaches

  • Sydney

  • Illawarra

  • Far South Coast


Friday 17 December 2020