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The Australian Life Saving Team, including eight NSW athletes, has taken out the overall International Surf Rescue Challenge (ISRC) Trophy for the eighth consecutive year.

After three days of competition at North Beach in Durban, South Africa, the Australian Life Saving Team (ALT) collected three trophies in a clean sweep of the International Surf Rescue Challenge, the Trans-Tasman Test and the Tri-Nations Test.

The 14-person Australian squad featured two Olympians, three Nutri-Grain Iron competitors, a World Lifesaving record holder and a host of Australian surf champions.

Veteran NSW Ironman representative Kendrick Louis (Manly LSC) said the team knew they had a tough job to uphold their successful history. “It was an awesome event and opportunity for us to come here to defend our title. It was my first time in South Africa and I didn’t really know what to expect.

“Conditions for the first test were challenging for everyone, four foot waves combined with 10-15 knot winds made the swell tricky to get through. The Australians really shone through in these conditions though, winning the first test match by more than nine points,” said Kendrick.

Water events were cancelled on day two due to big swell, which left the Aussies under pressure to beat the Kiwis in both the male and female flag events on the beach in order to win Test Two.

Only dropping points in two races on day three, the Aussie team got off to a cracking start to take home the 2019 International Surf Rescue Challenge.

Current Australian Ironman Champion Max Brooks (Newport SLSC) made his Australian Life Saving Team debut in South Africa after impressively consistent results across the 2019 season.

Kendrick said, “Max’s racing was solid throughout the events. He suffered a stomach bug on day three of racing, so I picked up a couple of extra races for him but he put on a brave face, put his foot on the line and did the job. His gold medal with Lizzie Welborn (Newport SLSC) in the Board Rescue was awesome to watch.”

Kendrick Louis himself placed second behind Hayden Cotter from Maroochydore in the Surf Race and although the New Zealand team put the pressure on him in the Iron Ocean M format, he dashed ahead of the Kiwis for the Gold.

This year’s Australian and NSW Beach Flags champion Blake Drysdale (Newport SLSC) came away with silver in the male event ahead of New Zealand in third, securing their team a one-point win over the Kiwis.

It was Olympian and 2019 Australian Ski gold medallist Riley Fitzsimmons’s Australian Life Saving Team debut in South Africa.

Lizzie Welborn returned for her second ISRC appearance. As well as her team gold with Brooks, she joined Georgia Miller, Harriet Brown, Hayden Cotter, and Riley Fitzsimmons (Avoca Beach SLSC) to take gold in the Ocean Lifesaver Relay (Taplin) and the female Beach Relay.

For Lizzie, there truly is no greater feeling than being able to do your country proud. She said, “it was definitely the most exciting international racing I have ever seen and such a great experience. The South African team were so welcoming to us and we were so honoured to race on their turf and everyone really pushed us, it was a tough week of competition but so rewarding.”

The Aussie young guns only dropped points in two races in the third test and secured a 45-point lead over closest rivals New Zealand. Zach Morris (Newport SLSC), Sam Zustovich (Mollymook SLSC) and Isabellah Walker (Cronulla SLSC) were the NSW representatives in the Youth International Surf Rescue Challenge team each making their presence felt on the international stage with impressive results.

On his debut Sam Zustovich, the NSW Flags and Beach Sprint Champion from the South Coast said, “the whole experience has been awesome. I never imagined being able to represent my country and travel overseas to race in the green and gold. It’s something I’ll always be so grateful for.

“The Australian Youth Team all raced at such a high level over the last week,” said Sam. “Personally, I knew I had to race well because our rivalry with New Zealand is so fierce. It was always in the back of my head and I wanted to make sure I contributed as best I could to secure Australia the gold.”

International Surf Rescue Challenge – Overall point score

  • 1st Australia (311)

  • 2nd New Zealand (285)

  • 3rd South Africa (219)

  • 4th USA (161)

  • 5th Japan (124)

  • 6th Spain (114)


Friday 4 October 2019