The NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championships is taking shape after a jam-packed day of racing saw familiar faces and new stars make a name for themselves in all sorts of conditions at Queenscliff beach.

Competitors faced four seasons in one day on the Northern Beaches which shaped some pumping offshore sets, making getting out past the white water difficult for most athletes in the largely water-based event program. The state’s best Open athletes showed their stuff time and time again, though, making for a terrific display of racing.

Newport SLSC’s Championships defence began with a canter, placing or winning in nearly the entire breadth of finals events on show on Day One. The club’s elite core of athletes, as well as those still emerging, also qualified in mass numbers for the individual finals set to be Livestreamed on Facebook, YouTube and Kayo Freebies on Sunday.

The first points of the Championships, however, fell to last year’s second place getter, Wanda SLSC, whose Open Male Surf Teams group of Hayden Allum, Bailey Krstevski, Nicholas Middleton, and Noah Steiner – the overall winner of the race – was victorious over strong Newport and Manly teams.

Not long afterwards, Cooks Hill SLSC reminded everyone on the beach that there are many strong Hunter teams this weekend, led by Alex and Charlie Walker, Jack Breasley and Stephen Carcary to the U19 Male Surf Teams gold medal ahead of Bulli SLSC.

North Curl Curl SLSC then narrowly edged out Wanda or gold in the U17 Male Surf Teams, with Braith Howison, Luke Higgs, Sam Davis, and Archer Ferguson all placing inside the top 11 swimmers.

Newport’s first of three gold medals came in the Open Female Surf Teams just a few hundred metres down the beach – Sarah Locke, Lizzie Welborn and Kimberly Doyle finishing first, second and third in a metaphorical dismantling of the field. Annalise Kibble rounded out the team in eighth.

In fact, inclusive of Newport’s ‘B’ team in the event, the Northern Beaches club had six of the first eight finishers in the race.

Both Olivia Clues and Pipi Te Pania backed up in wins in the U19 and U17 Female Surf Teams.

Due to the size of the surf, Surf Belt and Double Ski finals slated to take place on the day were held over to Saturday.

Meanwhile, in the NSW Surf Life Saving Surf Boat Championships, Masters competitors hit the water with a heap of thrills and spills in the testing conditions.

Elouera SLSC’s ‘Great Men’ team of Timothy Nesbitt, Stephen Bryen, Ashley Bourne, Michael McBain, and Grant Wilkinson were big winners in the 160 Year Male category, and the Avoca Beach SLSC ‘Blue Pills’ of Andrew Collins, Duncan Smith, Greg Mitchell, Nick Mesritz, and Matthew Mitchell won the 180 Year Male.

The Batemans Bay ‘Banshees’ team was at it again – Alison Weyman, Donna Marie Clarke, Megan Douros, Neil and Tracy Innes taking out the 180 Year Female. In the 200 Year Female, Wanda’s ‘Kessels’ team of Louise Southwell, Virginia Carnegie, Karen Ross, Kaylene Walker, and Leslie Townsend was too good for North Narrabeen SLSC.

The 2024 NSW Surf Life Saving Open and Surf Boat Championships, proudly presented by Your local club, continue tomorrow with teams events in the Open Championships playing out all the way to finals, while in the Surf Boats, Opens, U23 and U19s all hit the water.

Friday 15 March 2024