It was a big trip for the 144 South Coast competitors to compete at the 2020 Envirobank NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships, but they certainly made it worth it.
The solid Warilla-Barrack Point team was determined to push their way up the point score ladder from third in 2019 and create a challenge for host club Cudgen Headland. They even brought out some secret weapons, bringing home ironmen Hayden White and Ben Carberry to help wrangle extra points from the Far North Coast clubs.
“It’s a championships event that I love coming to,” said Hayden. “There’s a friendly rivalry between some of us who have been competing since the Under 9s.
“It was nice to see how close we could get with limited numbers against Cudgen Headland,” said Ben. “It’s just been good to be here competing for the club we grew up in.”
But it wasn’t just the Opens competitors that drove the team forward.
Storm Balmain is just 11 years old and is among a strong surge of upcoming athletes from the South Coast. For the last three years Storm has won the Board race and on the weekend he not only continued his dominance in that event, but he also took out the Under 12 Ironman, Surf Race and was part of his club’s winning Board Relay and Surf Race teams. Younger sister Coco showed the surf talent runs in the family winning the Under 8 Wade.
“This is one of my favourite events in the year because it’s so much fun and you meet so many new friends and catch up with old ones,” said Storm. “We have Ross Day as our coach. We train four days a week. Ross gives us so much support and we love it. It’s pretty cool competing in the same team as Hayden White and Benny Carberry this weekend, I’ve looked up to them for ages.”
Chad Poland was the lone competitor from Nowra-Culburra but despite not entering any teams events, the South Coast local amassed a massive 35 points, single-handedly putting his club into 22nd place.
Chad has been racing at the Country Championships since he was in Nippers in the Under 9s. “I remember my first Country Champs, we went to Coffs Harbour and I won a silver medal in the surf race. It’s one of my favourite events of the year, everyone loves coming to country and it’s always a fun weekend.”
Now in the 30-39 division, Chad took a clean sweep in the individual water events winning the swim, board, ski and ironman and got the second place in the 2km beach run.
Gerringong has been working hard on junior athlete development and it’s paying off with the club taking a number of big podium finishes. Coco Seddon showed promise with her win in the Under 10 Female Flags while the Gerringong Under 8 Wade Relay team took out second place behind Cudgen Headland.
The juniors were led by skilled senior competitors. Harrison Wicks took out the highly competitive Under 17 Male Flags while master Darren Wall claimed a number of medals in the 40-49 beach events.
Mollymook continued to uphold their success on the beach with
Karla Jones impressive dual win in the Under 15s Flags and Beach Sprint. Just behind her, Olivia Greenhalgh was too quick for the field in the Under 14s Beach Sprint.
“Country Champs is a great carnival and I really look forward to coming up here despite the long journey,” said Karla. “I came here focusing on the flags but to win both flags and the sprint is a pretty good achievement.”
Paul Buttel and Todd Muller kept the Mollymook caps constantly in the finals with a handful of medals between them across beach and water events.
The beach events certainly brought the most success for South Coast clubs with both Kiama and Kiama Downs also holding the tops spots in the junior divisions.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said the number of athletes and camaraderie seen from South Coast clubs was a tribute to the hard work put in by surf sports teams and their dedication to continually developing happy, healthy Australians.
The 2020 Envirobank NSW Country Championships was won by Cudgen Headland SLSC for the fourth consecutive year with Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC closer than ever only 211 points behind. The club is determined to be back bigger and stronger in 2021.
2020 Envirobank NSW Country Championships - Overall Rank and Points
- Cudgen Headland SLSC 1037
- Warilla Barrack Point SLSC 826
- Byron Bay SLSC 456
- Lennox Head -Alstonville SLSC 433
- Sawtell SLSC 336
- Port Macquarie SLSC 284
- Tacking Point SLSC 222
- Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC 212
- Yamba SLSC 183
- Coffs Harbour SLSC 153
- Cabarita Beach SLSC 144
- Brunswick SLSC143
- Woolgoolga SLSC 118
- Cape Hawke SLSC 87
- Black Head SLSC 81
- Gerringong SLSC 79
- Minnie Water-Wooli SLSC 78
- Kiama SLSC 77
- Urunga SLSC 65
- Broulee Surfers SLSC 54
- Mollymook Surf Life Saving Club 54
- Kiama Downs SLSC 49
- Nowra-Culburra SLSC 35
- South West Rocks SLSC 31
- Wauchope Bonny Hills SLSC 30
- Evans Head-Casino SLSC 27
- Salt SLSC 23
- Forster SLSC 23
- Narooma SLSC 16
- Macksville-Scotts Head SLSC 9
- Shellharbour SLSC 7
- Kempsey-Crescent Head SLSC 2
- Red Rock Corindi SLSC 0
- Tathra SLSC 0