Cudgen Headland SLSC will host 34 country clubs this weekend for the 2020 Envirobank NSW Country Championships. The event this year, more than ever, will bring together clubs and communities including many of those affected by fires across the Christmas/New Year period.
Cudgen Headland SLSC President Grant Rogers said the club listened to the feedback from members and competitors last year, “We’re thrilled to have the Country Championships back for the second year,” he said. “We’re anticipating a bigger and better event after implementing a couple of great new initiatives.”
The club says the Country Championships continues to be one of the best events on the surf sports calendar. “This event is all about encouraging our country clubs to participate and gives them the opportunity for fun, healthy competition,” said Rogers. He said the club enjoys hosting the big events because they bring so many people together and encourage lifesavers to build their fitness across the season.
“Training towards these kinds of events creates great Australians and very capable lifesavers,” he said. “Being part of a team, meeting at the beach to train and compete makes for happy, healthy members who are capable of saving lives.”
Some of the new initiatives for the 2020 event include encouraging no plastic on the beach. “We won’t be selling any plastic water bottles and all officials and athletes are encouraged to use our additional water stations to refill their own bottles.”
There will also be more entertainment on offer for the whole family with a jumping castle for the kids and live music on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of racing.
For the first time, water safety services will be coordinated through the Australian Lifesaving Boat Emergency Rescue Training (ALBERT) team. These volunteers have undergone additional advanced training in the lead-up to the event.
“By bringing in the ALBERT team we will have the opportunity to standardise the way we do water safety and make the whole event run more smoothly,” said Grant Rogers. “This will help minimise risk for competitors, officials and those involved in providing water safety. It’s a fantastic initiative and we’re anticipating great results that will impact the whole event,” he said.
The 2019 Open Male Flags champion Darren Drewsen of Broulee Surfers SLSC is bringing a team of nine competitors to the event. The Batemans Bay resident had a tough New Year period. He and a friend stayed to defend their street of houses while their families took refuge at evacuation centres. “It was a very intense period but it seems like it’s never going to end,” said Drewsen. “Our house survived but a lot of houses surrounding us are gone,” he said.
The smoke has also made training for the last three months very difficult for the team. But Drewsen is looking forward to the break and fresh air of the Far North Coast.
“Our Broulee team is growing every year and we’ve got some great young competitors coming along this year who are hoping to return home with a bag of medals,” he said. “I’ll be aiming to defend my title but we’ve got some strong kids who will be great on the beach and in the water.”
Drewsen says you can expect to see his youngest son in Under11s Luke Dewsen across all beach events and Lara Elliot and Rosie McPartland in the water events. “Lara and Rosie will be great in the board rescue and we’re really excited to see them competing this weekend in a big field.”
Also from down South, Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC will make the near 1,000 kilometre trip with a team of 78 competitors! Among the strong squad is superstar 12 year old Storm Balmain. Storm is on his way to Kingscliff to continue his three-year consecutive board race title. He’s already had an amazing start to the season as part of the South Coast Interbranch team and has just come off the back of winning the Sydney Water Surf Series.
“I love Country Champs and can’t wait to get back up to Cudgen,” said Storm. “I love the sport and challenging myself plus I get to do it all with my friends and learn so much about the surf that could help save someone’s life.”
In terms of conditions for the weekend, Cudgen Headland SLSC Head Coach Scott McCartney says it’s important for all water competitors to take time to watch, test and understand the sweep at Kingscliff.
“Conditions leading into the event look to be consistent with what we’ve been experiencing the last couple of weeks on the Far North Coast. It will most likely be between two and four feet surf during the event and the wind will be up so be prepared for chop out in the surf, along with a southerly swell,” said McCartney.
His hot tip for all water athletes is to not underestimate the benefit of a warm up to help judge the speed of the sweep in the swim, board and ski events.
And for beach competitors in the beach flags, sprint and beach run: “The sand at Kingscliff is very soft,” says McCartney, “so athletes who prefer harder sand will need to spend some time ahead of their heats getting used to the foot wells.”
The 2020 Envirobank NSW Country Championships begin on Saturday and conclude on Sunday afternoon at Kingscliff Beach. The event is being live-streamed on the Surf Life Saving NSW Facebook page.
COMPETITOR NUMBERS BY CLUB
- Ballina Lighthouse & Lismore 61
- Black Head 27
- Broulee Surfers 9
- Brunswick 35
- Byron Bay 103
- Cabarita 55
- Cape Hawke 10
- Coffs Harbour 69
- Cudgen Headland 205
- Evans Head-Casino 19
- Forster 9
- Gerringong 27
- Kempsey-Crescent Head 9
- Kiama Downs 7
- Kiama 19
- Lennox Head – Alstonville 107
- Macksville-Scotts Head 2
- Minnie Water – Wooli 31
- Mollymook 10
- Narooma 1
- Nowra-Culburra 1
- Port Macquarie 74
- Red Rock Corrindi 1
- Salt 31
- Sawtell 64
- Shellharbour 2
- South West Rocks 7
- Tacking Point 73
- Tathra 1
- Urunga 19
- Warilla-Barrack Point 78
- Wauchope Bonny Hills 26
- Woolgoolga 66
- Yamba 41
COMPETITORS BY BRANCH
- Far North Coast – 657
- North Coast – 250
- Mid North Coast – 191
- Lower North Coast – 46
- South Coast – 144
- Far South Coast – 10
2019 OVERALL POINT SCORE
- Cudgen Headland SLSC 1128
- Byron Bay SLSC 687
- Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC 479
- Lennox Head - Alstonville SLSC 317
- Sawtell SLSC 300