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With the 2019 Surf Life Saving NSW Championships just around the corner, we are taking the opportunity to profile some of those athletes and officials looking to make an impact when competition gets underway at Blacksmiths Beach.

Meet Jeff Mowbray, Swansea Belmont SLSC

When and why did you become an official? 

Too long ago. I have my 30 year recognition award.

I did it because there were very few officials in the Hunter Branch and we needed to do something about it to grow our Branch and run events like State Champs.

I was a coach at the time so I had a good knowledge of the competitors and the members which made it easier during the events.

What is it about being an official that you like? 

I love seeing the competitors getting a fair go. There’s a lot of pressure on you as an official, but we have all the best intentions to make sure everyone gets a good start. I love watching the locals compete and go well and have a good time at the carnivals.

Working with the other officials is great too. Working in a big team and having a laugh with hard working people is what it’s all about.

Tell us about your first carnival as an official? 

My first carnival was at Wanda and I was the starter for the under 11s. Back then all the kids had water starts and it was so hard to get it right, especially with a steep shore dump. I just remember all the heckles from the parents behind me to get it started, but trying to get a heat of kids aligned in the water is tricky. There was so much pressure but I just wanted to give all the kids a fair start.

What are you looking forward to about State Champs? 

This is our third consecutive year and I look forward to it every year. We have a huge team that bring the event together that includes hundreds of volunteers and officials. Everyone puts in so much to make it a successful event.

This year I’m so glad to see that we’ve got the Inclusive events and the 20-29 years B-Division being trialled. I think these kinds of additions will keep more people coming back to our events outside of the elite divisions and are a really positive step forward.

Who was your mentor and what did they do to help you love what you do? 

Rick Wright was a mentor to me as I was making my way through the ranks as an official. I have also worked closely with Steve (Bob) Marley from Caves Beach SLSC who is now an Australian referee. He’s one of the most efficient and hard working officials on the beach

Best memory as an official?

The best times are when the job is done. But the reason I love being an official is because of the laughs you have on the beach and in the debriefs. There used to be a post-event night for officials called Buoy-O-Buoy, when we gave our awards for funny things that happened during the event, it was like a roasting night and just great fun.


Wednesday 20 February 2019