A clinic of skill and speed on the beach has helped Sydney Branch to claim its first Interbranch Championship in six years, breaking a streak of three straight Sydney Northern Beaches titles in the process.
Athletes from the stretch of coastline encompassing Palm Beach to Manly had previously claimed seven of the last nine Interbranch Championships, including each of the last three, but simply couldn’t keep up with their neighbouring Branch to the south over two action-packed and, at times, testing days on the NSW Central Coast.
Shelly Beach turned on the weather and the surf on the weekend of 3-4 December, with pumping waves ensuring water competitors from the Far North Coast to the Far South Coast were pushed to their limits. It was on the sand, though, that Sydney would absolutely dominate, claiming 10 of 12 possible Beach Flags events and the Open and U17 Mixed 2x1km Beach Runs, among other results.
Interestingly, the Central Coast appears to be a happy hunting ground for Sydney Branch in its quest for Interbranch success – it has now won each of the last five Championships held in the region, inclusive of the weekend past and dating back as far as 2009 at The Lakes SLSC.
The only win Sydney Branch has claimed outside of the Central Coast this century came at Stockton Beach in 2002.
“Our coaches are just awesome, and they really instilled in us just effort on effort and that every place and every point counts this weekend,” Sydney Branch team captain, Emily Maythers said.
“I think our beachies absolutely killed it, it’s so good to have them as part of our team. The heavy beach program really suited us.”
“In the water we just wanted to come together as a team and it really helped, the wins we got there made it all worthwhile too,” Maythers’ co-captain, Kai Robertson added.
While the margin from first to second would prove large once competition wrapped on Sunday afternoon, the fight for places on the podium proved to be the true battle of the weekend.
While Sydney Northern Beaches Branch ended up claiming second overall, they did so with a total point score just eight points greater than Hunter Branch, who finished third. A further four points back was host Branch, Central Coast, ensuring just 12 points would separate second to fourth place.
Far North Coast finished on top of the Country point score, placing fifth overall, and dined out on a number of fine results across the weekend. Arguably none more so than a special come-from-behind victory in the U17/Open Female Ski Relay, having entered the final leg behind Central Coast.
“We sort of threw this team together from the best ski paddlers we had in the team, we were only going in it for a bit of fun because we love the waves, but things just went our way,” Chloe Jones said.
“I thought I was chasing Central Coast the whole time but then I lost them and when I was coming in everyone was screaming at me and I thought that was strange because I thought I was going for second,” Kloe Mills added.
“Turns out I was the first to cross the line.”
South Coast, North Coast, Far South Coast and Mid North Coast Branches rounded out the final point score positions, with plenty of fun had by athletes who travelled long distances to compete.
Nicole Sims of South Coast Branch was lucky enough to do that beside some of her children.
“It’s amazing, I was a bit nervous at first that they might be a bit embarrassed that it was mum but they’re on the sideline there cheering me and wishing me luck,” she said.
“To be able to have that in common with them, we can discuss what we’re nervous about or what we’re looking forward to, it’s good.
“My daughter tends not to listen to me, my son will, but I like to share the knowledge and show them what’s possible.”
2022 NSW Interbranch Championship Point Score:
Sydney Northern Beaches: 878
Central Coast: 866
Far North Coast: 786
South Coast: 687
North Coast: 391
Far South Coast: 380
Mid North Coast: 218
Sunday 4 December 2022