The excitement was palpable on the opening day of the 2022 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships at Cape Hawke SLSC, Forster on Friday.
It’s been two years since these regional surf lifesavers have been able to compete at what is the largest surf sport event in the state outside the NSW Championships.
For some of those in the youngest age groups, this is their first Country Championships and judging by the smiles, they were loving the chance to have a crack in the challenging surf conditions.
It was a ding dong battle between traditional rival clubs, Cudgen Headland in the far north, and Warilla-Barrack Point from the South Coast.
The reigning Country Champions, Cudgen Headland had results spread across all water and beach events, including Scarlette Mason winning the U9 Female Surf race, Hayley Smith winning the Open Flags and Open Sprint, and Isabella Tate was on fire in the U14s, winning the Ironwoman, Board and Surf race trifecta. The Cudgen Open team won the Beach Relay while the U13 Board Relay also went their way and the club’s C team came through first in the popular Junior Cameron team relay and All Age Board Relay.
North Coast clubs were present in the medal tally too, with wins to Coffs Harbour’s Josh Burns in both the U8 Beach Sprint and Beach Flags, along with winning the U8 Wade, all with his arm still in a cast from a bike accident! Team mate Ariana Yaya was first in the U8 Female Beach Flags.
Over at the Woolgoolga tent, Damon Striegher was celebrating wins in the U19 and Open Male Beach Sprint, while Sawtell’s highlights included Finn Klinkers’ gold in the U17 Male Flags and Saul Easman in the U12 Ironman. Port Macquarie caps were everywhere too with a decisive performance by Kate Field to take out the U19 Beach Flags.
Southern stars were mostly from Warilla-Barrack Point with Storm Balmain and Lucas Krstevski leading the charge in the U14s (first and third in the Ironman) and Maddix Burke won the U13 Ironman and Surf races. The U17 and U19 Beach Relay teams also took two golds and a silver.
The U17 Mollymook beachies were victorious, with Karla Jones first in the Flags and third in the sprint, behind club mates Olivia Greenhalgh and Mischa Boniface.
Nowra-Culburra’s Chad Poland was one of only three competitors from the club to make the trek north, making it worth his while with gold medals in the 30-39 Beach Sprint and Beach Flags.
Perhaps the biggest upset of the day came from the southern-most competing club this weekend. Darren Drewson from Broulee Surfers won the 50-59 Beach Sprint, then stunned the crowd by forcing out competitors half his age to take out the coveted Open Male Beach Flags medal.
Local Lower North Coast clubs where having fun and enjoying the short commute to Cape Hawke to compete on the first day of the Championships. Young Tully Kippax from Black Head SLSC was stoked to win the U9 Board race at her first Country Championships.
The 2022 Oakberry Acai Country Championships continues over the weekend at Cape Hawke’s One Mile Beach, with the Masters and Opens competition starting first up Saturday, along with all the thrills and spills of the surf boats.
Friday 28 January 2022