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It’s Newport SLSC’s championships to lose but the competition is fierce after a steady start to the schedule produced incomparably electric racing across the first day of the 2023 NSW Open Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly supported by Your local club.

Just three events progressed all the way through to finals – Surf Teams, Double Ski and Surf Belt – as most simply saw the field whittled down ready for a bumper Finals Day on Sunday.

It was Newport’s galaxy of stars who did the damage in those that saw a winner crowned; not a mere one or two athlete job. The Northern Beaches club led all comers in podium finishes and gold medals, accruing five by the time the Belt races were over, signalling the end of the day.

Siblings Bailey and Olivia Clues were responsible for one of those in the U19 Mixed Double Ski – Olivia’s second of the day after teaming with Analise Kibble, Kimberley Doyle, and Jodie Louw to win the U19 Female Surf Teams.

A Newport one-two-three, led by elite ski specialists Jemma Smith and Mitch Trim, in the Open Mixed Double Ski was a highlight at club level – they’re the first to do it in teams events at the 2023 State Championships.

Meanwhile, the Hunter region’s swim strength was on full exhibition in the younger Surf Teams categories. Redhead SLSC took out both the U17 Male and Female races and Cooks Hill SLSC was victorious in the U19 Male race.

Manly LSC dominated in the Open Male Surf Teams, finishing with all four swimmers inside the top seven before later swimming to gold in the Open Female Surf Belt race.

The Surf Belt, a nod to history in surf lifesaving where competitors swim out to a selected buoy while teammates stand on the beach and in the water continuing the flow of a rope that connects the swimmer to the reel on the shore, closed out the day as spectators gathered in large numbers to watch.

Cronulla SLSC claimed the Open Male Surf Belt, Bulli SLSC the U19 Female, and Elouera SLSC the U19 Female. Wanda, who finished the day in second place on the standings, grabbed a win in the U17 Female category.

Further down the beach, Masters athletes showed their skill in the surf as the Surf Boats Championships kicked off, with the formidable Batemans Bay SLSC ‘Banshees’ a notable winner in the 180 Year Min Female category while the Coffs Harbour SLSC ‘Trainwrecks’ won the 200 Year Min Male.

Among the more memorable stories of the Championships on Day One was that of Sae Ackerstein – the American reigning National U19 Board champion hailing from Santa Cruz Surf Life Saving Club in Los Angeles.

Sae is in Sydney coincidentally in line with the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships and eagerly accepted an invitation to compete. While results didn’t go her way – Sae is out of season with it being her winter over in the States – she was thrilled to experience a new surf culture at Queenscliff.

The 2023 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly presented by Your local club, continues tomorrow as the Open and Surf Boat Championships kick on into Day Two, with NSW’s top elite athletes contesting events on the sand and in the surf as we look to crown new champions.

Top 10 Clubs As It Stands

1. Newport SLSC

2. Wanda SLSC

3. Manly LSC

4. Redhead SLSC

5. Cronulla SLSC

6. Avoca Beach SLSC

7. Swansea-Belmont SLSC

8. Elouera SLSC

9. Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC

10. North Bondi SLSC

Full results can be accessed here.

Friday 3 March 2023