Surf clubs are about so much more than superstars and this sixth State Championship win by Newport SLSC is a great example.
Newport SLSC entered the 2019 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships knowing that defending its title would potentially be a solid challenge.
The Sydney Northern Beaches club prides itself on the athlete development and competitive success. This year however, some of their key competitors were out, but their strength and breadth across the entire program was irrefutable.
It all kicked off over the Lifesaving Championships weekend. The club fielded strong teams in the Champion Lifesaver and the Patrol Competition where they secured top three places in six of the 13 events.
Led by water competitor Phoebe Savage, club chief instructor Guyren Smith, and year on year age group first aid superstars Lily Tancred and Linda Leck, Newport’s Nick Carroll commented, “this team has come along in huge leaps over the last season. They collected a heap of points at Swansea Belmont, giving the open surf and beach squads a real lift coming into the carnival.”
The following weekend they continued to display their competence in the core lifesaving arena taking out gold and silver in the Under 19 First Aid Competition as well as third in the Under 15 and Open divisions.
These results proved valuable as the overall pointscore begun to accumulate the following weekend. It showcased the breadth of the Newport team across all areas of competition.
Newport caps were heavily represented in each division from Under 15s through to Opens as you looked out across Swansea Belmont’s Blacksmiths Beach. The team was ignited by the energetic efforts of the young water squad. “The boys won and filled the placings in every race in their division,” said Carroll. “Kimberley Doyle’s emphatic Under 15 Ironwoman win on finals day gave everyone something to cheer about.
“The team was also led from the top,” continued Carroll. “It’s no coincidence that this sixth title win coincided with NSW team captain and ski champ Mitchell Trim’s sixth straight open ski title.”
With a grin to match his wins, Mitchell Trim was racing in memory of fellow competitor and friend Alana de Kort of Collaroy SLSC, who tragically lost her battle with cancer in 2018.
Trim said wearing a pineapple tattoo on his arm was a fitting tribute for a beautiful girl and former competitor. “The Pineapple symbolised Alana; she always stood tall and was very sweet on the inside. She competed at the State Champs all the way through Nippers.”
Trim carried Alana with him through his wins in Open Single Ski, Ski Relay, Double Ski, Lifesaver Relay and Mixed Double Ski on Sunday.
“These conditions are like a kayaking regatta it's a bit like being back at Umina Beach. You've got to be on the whole way, but it's pretty fun out there.
“I've won the ski race two or three times but never at Swansea Belmont, usually the waves chew me up a little here, so this has been great.”
The NSW Interstate captain also showed that he was a little worried about maintaining his place in the Opens team with the success of the up and coming young guns.
“We've got a really good crew at Newport. The young kids coming up are very, very impressive. We train hard but have a good old time and the club is in a really good place at the moment so I’m just trying to keep my spot before I get pushed out by the developing talent.”
Open Ironman hopeful Max Brooks, despite being ruled out of competition with bruising to his hip, joined the team on the beach encouraging his mates as they continued to cross the finishing line. The highpoint coming as his training partner Jackson Borg took out the Open Ironman.
Jackson raced all the way through the Ocean 6 series from the qualifiers with mixed results. “He has spent much of the season working on fine-tuning skills along with the almost impossible elite iron fitness training program,“said Carroll. “He took a brilliant second place to Ali Day in the World Ironman Championships in Adelaide that gave him confidence that the hard work would pay off.”
And it did. At Swansea Belmont Jackson held his own when pinned in a tight cat-and-mouse with Manly’s Kendrick Louis and Jay Furniss. When the three hit the beach he pounced for the run to take out his first Ironman State Title.
“I'm stunned, I'm so stoked with this win, I couldn't ask for anything more,” said Borg after his win. “It was very tactical out there in the flat conditions. No one wanted to get a wave to take the lead, but I got the guys on the beach. I've got to thank my Newport mates and squad for pushing me and getting me here.”
The foundation of the glory for Emily Doyle and Zac Morris also included going beyond the training call of duty. “Zac battled a stomach bug that kept him and a number of team-mates up most of the night before finals day. He worked to put it aside and rise to the occasion winning the Under 17 Single Ski and Ironman and tie for the win in the Board with Nick Stoddart of Swansea Belmont,” said Carroll.
Everywhere you looked, Emily was crossing the finishing line in both the Under 19s and Open events. After a solid season in Ocean 6, she finished her State Championships with silver medals in the premier Open Ironwoman and Taplin Relay. These were just two of her 13 medals from 20 events.
The Newport beach team was not short of success with a super Saturday of finals accruing vital points. Despite carrying a shoulder injury Jake Lych competed in the Beach Sprint but swapped the Flags for a stint as beach commentator. Lynch and fellow Australian Champion beach competitor Laura Shorter secured silver in the Open Beach Sprint, while William de Vries got a fourth in the Under 19s.
Veteran State Champ Blake Drysdale continued his sucess reclaiming his Open Male Beach Flag title and sixth in total. Together with wife Laura Shorter, Bethany Pate and Jake Lynch, also won the Open Mixed Relay their club.
"The team as a whole went so well and we're showing we're still one of the top beach teams in the State," said Drysdale. "I was glad to regain my title in the Flags to be part of our winning relay team with my wife. We went really well in both the men's and women's Opens Beach Relays with bronze medals in both.
"I've been racing at State Championships for years. I started as a Nipper and I just love it. It's all about competing with your mates and representing your club and staying fit which keeps you feeling young. I've been apart of it all for so long and I'm not getting tired of it."
The Under 23 female Surfboat crew (Abby Ballesty, Meagan Barr, Tara Doyle, Claudia Harris and sweep Michael King) nabbed a bronze medal in front of a huge crowd after battling the same tough flat conditions as the ski, swim and board competitors.
The overall team elation was capped with a first and third in the Lifesaver Relay. The beach sprinters, surfboat rowers and water competitors all came together to compete in the five-discipline event.
“This might not have been the biggest win in the six-title streak at the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships,” Carroll concluded, “but in some ways, for the club it was the best of the lot.”
Top 10 Overall Pointscore
- Newport SLSC 525
- Wanda SLSC 359
- Elouera SLSC 246
- Manly LSC 245
- North Bondi SLSC 240
- Umina SLSC 168
- North Cronulla SLSC 166
- Cronulla SLSC 146
- Coogee SLSC 112
- Swansea Belmont SLSC 100
Wednesday 13 March 2019