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Manly’s quest for their eighth straight Age Championship got off on the right foot with the Sydney Northern Beach based club surging to a narrow lead on the first day of the 2017 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships at Blacksmiths Beach on Friday.

Manly lead Sydney rivals Elouera and North Bondi with Cooks Hill and Wanda rounding off the top five. Hosts Swansea Belmont finished opening day in a highly creditable 8th position and with plenty of points up for grabs as the competition develops over the next few days, it is fair to say that there will be plenty of intrigue in what promises to be a bumper event.

Despite the often challenging conditions a number of medals were decided on the opening day of competition.

Making their debuts at State level Isabella McDonald (Cronulla), and Luke Jenkins (North Cronulla) claimed gold in the U9 Flag event.

Xavier Stewart (Fingal Beach) won the U10 Male Flags and was certainly delighted with his efforts despite the limitations of not regularly training for the event.

“It’s the best feeling being a state champion and I didn’t try to think too much I just ran as fast as I could,” he said.

The older competitors too showed nerves of steel having to overcome the pressure of straight elimination and unpredictable winds as they battled their way to finals.

Manly’s Nina van der Reyden and Naor Ross (North Bondi) were the male and female champions of the U11 age group respectively. South Maroubra’s Malikye Kessie picked up from where he left in 2016 winning gold in the U12 Male Flags, with Lola Sossai (Towradgi) the top U12 girl.

Lucy Flanagan (North Cronulla) and Sasha Popovic (Cronulla) ensured that there was plenty to celebrate for the Bate based clubs in the U13s.

In their final year as Nipper athletes Geordie Kemp (Batemans Bay) continued the form he showed at the Country Champs taking gold in a highly competitive U14 Male Flag Final his second major title in succession, while Olivia Alvarez (North Bondi) claimed her third successive State title in the Female race as she defeated clubmate and friend Capri Felix in an entertaining final.

“When we realised that we had got one/two that it felt like a normal training session,” said Olivia Alvarez.

“It feels great to be champion for a third time in the row, but it was really special to do it with my teammate,” she said.

Geordie Kemp said getting his first ever state medal is a fantastic feeling made even more special by the fac the represents such a small club.

“It was really tough competition that anybody could have won, but it was definitely challenging conditions with the wind and rain picking up towards the end, but I just had to push through.”

With the bulk of the water events taking place later in the championships only a few medals were decided on opening day.

Hunter athletes announced their arrival on the State Stage sweeping the U9 Female Surf Race with Daisy Breasley, Bronte Bowker (both Cooks Hill) being joined on the podium by Kaitlin Rees from Swansea Belmont.

The hosts also won a medal through Xavier Coates (silver) in the U10 Male Surf Race and Tye Worrel (bronze) U11 1km Beach Run.

Other winners in the Surf Races were James Jackson (U9s) and Alexander Walker (U10s) both from Cooks Hill and Emma Duggan from North Avoca who took out the U10 Female race. The final medal event of the day was the Beach Race events.


Friday 3 March 2017