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A new, exciting short course version of traditional surf boat racing may be here to stay after a successful debut at the 2019 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships last week on the Gold Coast.

The inaugural event was run and done in quick time, with the Sydney Northern Beaches powerhouse Sth Curl Curl SLSC taking out both Open divisions, giving them the first Aussies gold medals for the Championships.

The event is the result of a collaboration between SLSA and the Australian Surf Rowers League (ASRL). The sudden death-style format over a shorter race distance was fast and furious, with crews charging out through the break to a turning can mid-way out to sea and hoping to hook onto a wave straight out of the cans to bring them back to shore first.

Sth Curly sweep of the Open Men, Rob Lowery says the crews really enjoyed it and will be back for more.

“We thought it was really successful. We were always going to go in it because we were up for the boat relay and we used it as a kind of a warm up, but in the end it was a really good event in its own right,” he said.

“It feels a bit like Twenty20 cricket instead of test cricket, so you’re taking out all the rhythm and fitness out the back and instead it’s how good are your starts, how good can you punch the break, how quick you can respond to the instructions.”

ASRL Vice President Don Cotterill says that the event is definitely a response to a growing demand for shorter, sharper racing.

“Shorter versions of all sports are becoming popular. Everyone is looking at something more fast paced,” said Cotterill.

“We think it will evolve. You don’t need to be six-foot-six and pulling 130 on the ergo. It’s good for crews who can turn around fast and the skilled crews that like going in and out through the break that will get the most out of this new division.”

It’s also a great opportunity for boat rowers to have another opportunity to get a medal.

“If you’re an ironman or a water competitor, you can win 10 or 12 medals so for a number of years we’ve been backing the lifesaver relay and the boat relay and now the short course as another opportunity for crews to race.

“Short course racing has a certain amount of luck and a certain amount of skill and it’s the opportunity for the punter to get out through the break, turn the can and be competitive and maybe not get flogged by those crews that are prepared to put in the number of hours to be a top A-grade crew.”

Rob Lowery agrees it’s a combination of luck and skill.

“It wasn’t just taking a number on the chocolate wheel though. A couple of times I had to make a call and it turned out to be the right call, so there is definitely skill involved,” said Rob Lowery.

Don Cotterill says trialling the event at this year’s Aussies has worked well and hopes to expand it in future to all eight divisions competing.

“We support SLSA 100% for bringing this in. They wanted to trial it here and with just two divisions and from what we saw it was very spectacular and we think it’s been a success,” he said.

Open Men Short Course Champions

South Curl Curl Death Riders

Jordan Thurlow, Michael Egan, Christopher Hughes, Trent Rogers, Rob Lowery

Open Women Short Course Champions

South Curl Curl Straw Hats

Lara Campbell, Sophie Coolican, Charlotte Walters, Ellie Winstanley, Mark Spiteri


Wednesday 10 April 2019