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With just over a month until the 2024 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships kicks off at Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC, the host club and reigning champions say they’re ready and raring to go in the bid to defend their title.

Clubs from outside the Hunter to Illawarra belt will converge on the South Coast for three days of competition from 26-28 January, bringing the best regional NSW athletes together to test their skills.

The Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships is second only to the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships in size, with well in excess of 1,000 competitors, 200 officials and around 4,000 spectators expected across the three days of competition.

Speaking at the Official Launch of the event on 7 December, Surf Life Saving NSW Director and Chair of Surf Sports, Don van Keimpema said it was the first time the event had been run on the South Coast in nearly a decade.

“The last Country Championships on the South Coast was at Mollymook in 2015, and it’s so exciting to be bringing one of the biggest surf sports events on our calendar back to the region again next year,” he said.

“Back then Warilla and Cudgen were second and third on the overall point score, and now all these years later those two clubs will be fighting it out at the top again, I’m sure.

“This event is an important showcase for our regional members to compete, there are so many friendly rivalries between clubs, but the really special thing is that it’s done in such a safe and fun way.

“Last year we saw the labour of many years of work from the team at Warilla bear fruit when they de-throned Cudgen as champions, and now to be able to see them defend that title on their home turf is going to be every exciting.

“Thank you to Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC for hosting, and to the Shellharbour City Council for supporting us to get this event together.”

Indeed, a dramatic Open Mixed Taplin relay last year– the final event of a thrilling 2023 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships at Cape Hawke SLSC on the state’s Lower North Coast – would mark the turning point on years of dominance by Cudgen Headland SLSC at the premier regional surf sports event.

Warilla’s win earlier this year was the first time the Far North Coast club had not taken out the Championships overall point score in six years.

It’s a win that will fuel the club on to further success, says Warilla-Barrack Point Club President, Alan Beveridge.

“We take a lot of pride in being the defending champions,” he said.

“If we’re training hard and working well, the results will come. This is a great opportunity for our athletes to show what they’ve got.

“We have some very good coaches and our team will be more than ready, they’ll be pumped.”

Naming rights partner, Oakberry Acai said its association with Surf Life Saving NSW and the Country Championships provides a platform for young athletes to achieve great things.

“Oakberry Australia is proud to be the Naming Rights sponsor of the 2024 NSW Country Championships,” Oakberry Australia CEO, Renan Pinto said.

“Since we began our much-valued association with SLSNSW, Oakberry Australia has grown considerably. Much like Surf Life Saving, Oakberry is a trusted and instantly recognisable brand on our beaches.

“Oakberry’s valued presence in these unique and beautiful beach communities forms the bedrock of the strong partnership between Oakberry and Surf Life Saving NSW.”

Shellharbour City Council Mayor, Chris Homer said there is a lot of excitement around hosting and looks forward to seeing thousands of people enjoying everything the region has to offer.

“We are thrilled that Surf Life Saving NSW has chosen to hold this competition here in Shellharbour City. I know that Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC will do a fantastic job of hosting the event,” Mayor Homer said.

“Council was pleased to contribute $15,000 from Council’s financial assistance budget towards the competition. An event of this size will deliver a significant boost to our local economy.

“The thousands of participants and spectators who travel here will be spending money in local restaurants, cafes, accommodation businesses and other attractions.

“The event is also a great lifestyle visitation showcasing opportunity for our stunning Shellharbour City, with many visitors wanting to return again in the future.”

The Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships will run from 26-28 January 2024 at Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC.

Thursday 7 December 2023