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We all know them – members who care, give up their time and want to make a difference. The Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence celebrate the incredible people in our organisation and the impact they have on their clubs, members and their local communities.

As we edge closer to our Awards ceremony, set to take place this Saturday, we highlight some of the inspirational people who are being recognised for their contribution to the community through Surf Life Saving.


The Surf Sports category is made up of six awards; Official of the Year, Coach of the Year, Surf Sports Team of the Year, Youth Athlete of the Year, Masters Athlete of the Year, and Athlete of the Year.

These awards are pivotal in highlighting those who have achieved outstanding results or shown undeniable commitment to Surf Sports, a crucial, competitive element within the movement which aids in upskilling and engaging the membership.

Involvement in Surf Sports at any level – be it a competitor, coach or official – requires sincere and often unrivalled commitment to stand out in the field.

This is epitomised by Coach of the Year finalist, Gary Pettigrove.

“I started coaching in 1982, so that’s 40 years non-stop, and I’ve been a lifesaver for 48 years,” the Broulee Surfers SLSC member and surf boat sweep said.

“In short, the role needs someone who can motivate people to set realistic goals and then plans to work with the athletes to achieve those goals.

“It’s not just that – you need to readdress, and to look at the skills and development plans and make changes where they’re needed, then I believe it’s also important to be there to celebrate with the athlete when they hit those targets.

“Every athlete is different, with outside interests and things that impact on them, and you work around that to bring the best out in them.”


Gary Pettigrove and (right) Gary as a child.

Gary’s strength is in surf boats, where he has developed the majority of his skills building and maintaining competitive teams in the water. That said, he understands the value the Nipper program brings to Surf Life Saving and has invested plenty of time and energy in helping to bring through the next crop of talented athletes from the Far South Coast.

“We’ve got 300 Nippers – 150 in Canberra, 150 on the coast – and we come together once a month,” he said.

“That pathway program from Nippers through to cadets and seniors is something we’re working on, there are just so many other attractions when they get to 14, we need to keep them engaged.

“We have a Team Broulee program, which is squads of kids we’re building to go to Country, State and National titles, and we’re looking for other trips away too.

“The end goal is to get a few competitors to that elite level across different teams and events.”

Having looked through the finalists across some of the other awards in the Surf Sports category – namely Youth, Masters and Athlete of the Year – Gary believes it’s a strong field with many worthy winners.

And even after 40 years as a coach – culminating this year in a nomination for Surf Life Saving NSW Coach of the Year – he is always looking to hone his craft further.

“Surf Life Saving needs us to be working better and smarter, so we’re always looking for opportunities to expand our knowledge,” Gary said.

The Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence take place on Saturday 27 August from 7pm at Luna Park. Keep up to date with the night and the award winners for each category by following us on social media. #AOE2022

Coach of the Year Finalists:

Stephen George – Cudgen Headland SLSC

Adam Smith – Wauchope-Bonny Hills SLSC

Martin Cowper – Blackhead SLSC

Ray Terrill – Redhead SLSC

Damien Benson – Avoca Beach SLSC

Andrew Dennehy– North Curl Curl SLSC

Tom Rampoldi – North Cronulla SLSC

Paul Jones – Bulli SLSC

Daniel Robberds – Mollymook SLSC

Gary Pettigrove – Broulee Surfers SLSC

Official of the Year Finalists:

Charlie Buchanan – Cudgen Headland SLSC

John Wake – Coffs Harbour SLSC

Mick Lang – Tacking Point SLSC

Shane Dowsett – Swansea Belmont SLSC

David Unger – Ocean Beach SLSC

Ernesto Calderon – Dee Why SLSC

Carlo Villanti – Cronulla SLSC

Carl Williams – Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC

Michael Crowle – Mollymook SLSC

Surf Sports Team of the Year Finalists:

Boilers Boat Crew – Yamba SLSC

Gun Mums – Port Macquarie SLSC

U17 Male Taplin Team – Black Head SLSC

260 Years Male Surf Boat Crew – Nobbys SLSC

Masters Ski Relay Team – The Lakes SLSC

Masters Beach Relay Team – Warriewood SLSC

Open Beach Relay Team – North Cronulla SLSC

Open Mens Boat Crew – Bulli SLSC

U14 Board Rescue Team – Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC

The Banshees Female Boat Crew – Batemans Bay SLSC

Youth Athlete of the Year Finalists:

Kalani Ives – Yamba SLSC

Nick Caldwell – Port Macquarie SLSC

Izaac Boag – Blackhead SLSC

Lani Waller – Redhead SLSC

Ryan Green – Terrigal SLSC

Olivia Clues – North Curl Curl SLSC

Lucy Flanagan – North Cronulla SLSC

Brock Neall – Bulli SLSC

Luella Boulton – Tathra SLSC

Masters Athlete of the Year Finalists:

Paul Pattison – Byron Bay SLSC

Raelene Myers – Port Macquarie SLSC

Jacquelene Doran – Nobbys SLSC

Hayden Smith – Terrigal SLSC

Michael Gedz – Queenscliff SLSC

Dori Miller – Bondi SBSLC

Hannah Minogue – Bulli SLSC

Joanne Helson – Shellharbour SLSC

Darren Drewson – Broulee Surfers SLSC

Athlete of the Year Finalists:

Sofie Boyd – Cudgen Headland SLSC

Callum Boag – Blackhead SLSC

Flynn Wallace-Smith – Caves Beach SLSC

Ella Beere – Avoca Beach SLSC

Mitchell Morris – Newport SLSC

Kai Hammond – Wanda SLSC

Hannah Minogue – Bulli SLSC

Nicole Sims – Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC

Shayne Rettke – Tathra SLSC

Wednesday 24 August 2022