A triumphant return to glory for a former winner and the threat of a looming dynasty in the Open Iron races highlighted an action-packed day two of the 2023 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships – building the anticipation for a huge final day at Cape Hawke.

Ollie Sharpe made it back-to-back Open Iron titles in the Male division when he closed out hard in the swim leg to overtake Country Championships legend Scott McCartney from Cudgen Headland and claim the gold; just minutes after a warm-up race in the U19 Iron saw him take silver behind Warilla-Barrack Point’s Bailey Krstevski.

For a while, it looked as though McCartney was going to wind back the clock having led after the Board and Ski legs, but the 36-year-old was pipped at the post by Lennox Head-Alstonville’s star Iron athlete, before dashing off to race in the Masters Ski Relay.

Warilla’s Jack Carberry, the brother of Nutri-Grain Iron Series athlete, Ben, finished third.

A few metres along the beach, though, Warilla was cheering home Jordan White as she crossed the finish line first in the Open Female Iron – the now-Masters competitor coming in ahead of last year’s runner-up, Hayley Smith of Cudgen. Nicole Sims completed a Warilla one-three following a strong race.

“It was pretty tricky out there, some of the girls are just getting used to the ski in these conditions but most of us Open girls have that bit more experience and we love it out there,” she said.

“It was nice because it’s short and I like the short, sharp stuff.”

Day two of the Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships saw the return of Masters competitors to the beach while some Surf Boat teams came unstuck in heavy sets as pumping swell came in from the south.

On the overall points tally, Warilla and Cudgen Headland are neck and neck after a hotly contested day of racing, arguably won by Warilla who had a significant gap to close after day one.

Led by the Open Mixed Beach Relay team who started the day on a high, the South Coast club significantly added to its medal tally.

South Coast clubs had a number of stars on day two, with Gerringong’s Miller Siasat continuing his beach dominance with standout wins in the U14 Male Flags and Sprint. The beach prodigy has now won both events at every Country Championships he has competed at since he was 8 years old.

“It’s a great community out at Gerringong, I love racing for them,” he said.

“I love competing against my mates and coming to Country every year.”

Kendall Payne continued the club’s success with a win in the U11 Female Iron, and for Mollymook, who crept into the top 10 before the day was done, Georgie Annesley grabbed the gold in the U9 Female Beach Sprint and Everly Morgan took out the U9 Female Board.

Local success came mostly from Black Head SLSC, who have podiumed multiple times and featured consistently in the top 4 of races they contest to ensure they sit inside the top 10 on the overall point score.

Edging further north along the coastline, Port Macquarie have crept into the top 3 and sit just ahead of Byron Bay in the race for the podium, carried by results from their Masters like those posted by Richard Hewens in the 50-59 Male Board, Sara-Jane Oakeshott in the 40-49 Female Board, and Luke Morris in the 40-49 Male Board.

The 2023 Oakberry Acai Country Championships concludes on Sunday at Cape Hawke’s One Mile Beach, with the 1km and 2km Beach Run, Masters Board Rescue, Double Ski and the Taplin team relays.

TOP 10 TEAMS AFTER DAY TWO

Cudgen Headland

Warilla-Barrack Point

Port Macquarie

Byron Bay

Yamba

Lennox Head-Alstonville

Woolgoolga

Mollymook

Sawtell

Black Head

For full results from the first day, click here.

Saturday 28 January 2023