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They may have had to wait a few hours for competition to commence, but the Open athletes certainly showed their skills in the surf on an exciting first day of action at the 2017 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships at Blacksmiths Beach on Friday.

After a delayed start due to the surf conditions a revised timetable was implemented with only six medal events to be decided in the water on the opening day of competition.

In what was a tightly contested U19 Female Surf Race Umina teammates Jemma Smith and Rachel Wood claimed gold and silver respectively with Wanda’s Lauren McMahon finishing third.

North Bondi’s Lizzie Welborn proved too strong in the U19 Board powering home on a wave ahead of Britney Pierce (Wanda) and Redhead’s Lily Costello.

In the U19 Male Surf Race James De Vries from Shelly Beach on the state’s Central Coast took home the gold medal in what was his first individual title ahead of Lachlan O’Reilly (Coffs Harbour) and Evan Stratton (Manly).

The U19 Male Board Race saw Newport’s Charlie Brooks take home gold ahead of Luke Chaffer (Cudgen Headland) and Zak Van Dartel from Terrigal who earned bronze spot on the podium. The U17s also saw finals contested in the male and female Surf Race on Friday.

Olivia Heaton (Newport) finished ahead of Keeley Booth (Avoca Beach) and Jamie Prowse (North Curl Curl), while the men’s race was taken out by Elouera’s Jake Evans with Kai Onley (Cudgen Headland) and Matthew Melhuish (Newport) earning silver and bronze respectively.

In the early rounds of the Open races it was all about securing an all important position in Sunday’s finals so the athletes were happy to conserve energy as they have a very full program of racing over the next few days. Manly’s Nathan Smith was impressive in the heat of the Open Board while club mate and fellow Ironman Kendrick Louis was in top form across his events.

Having started his career at Swansea Belmont Isak Costello is more familiar than most with the conditions and he took full advantage of his knowledge to qualify for the next round of the Open Board Race, although he did have a few anxious moments when a surging wave allowed many of his opponents to make up ground.

After winning the 40-44 Female 2KM Beach Run on Wednesday Swansea’s Angela Leadbeatter was gunning for her eighth state title in the Open Division. In front of a cheering home crowd including her friends and family she powered to victory to take the host club’s first gold of Open Championships.

Open Championships – Progressive Point Score

Manly LSC 61

Newport SLSC 57

Freshwater SLSC 47

Umina SLSC 44

Bronte SLSC 23