Not even the rain could dampen the spirits of the state’s most dedicated, talented juniors as the first day of the NSW Age Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly supported by Your local club, kicked off on Sydney’s Northern beaches.

An abridged timetable and program saw North Steyne see most of the action following the heavy rain that continues to lash the Sydney basin.

Over the next four days some 3,000 juniors are expected to hit the beach, with hundreds of Under 9 to Under 12 competitors the first to test the conditions, braving the ocean in the board and surf races, and tearing up the sand in the beach sprints and relays.

A number of clubs are out to end the current Age Champions North Curl Curl’s multi-year dominance but few started better than North Bondi; they showed complete authority in the beach events and finished the first day with an enviable haul of Gold medals in the relays.

Among those, Spencer Jordan-Booth, Kai Kitchen, Hugo Spierings and Jensen Lee completed their personal remarkable three-peat, taking out the U11 Male Beach Sprint Relay. It was the third straight year the team had won, with three of the four boys having also taken U9 gold two years ago and U10 gold last year.

The U9 Male and Mixed, and the U10 and U11 Female Beach Sprint Relay teams also took out their respective divisions, while Patrick Gisz was too strong in the individual U10 Male Beach Sprint.

A handful of close calls also added valuable points to the board, with Chloe Anthony and Elizabeth Somerville taking individual Silver and Bronze in the U10 and U12 categories, while the U11 Mixed and the U12 Female Beach Relay teams also finished second.

In all, 10 medals on the sand have North Bondi looking strong heading into the weekend.

For their part, defending champions North Curl Curl began their quest for a third straight Age title with a one-two punch in the U11 Female Surf Race, with Jocelyn Melbourn and Evie Davis living up to their undeniable talent to bring home gold and silver, respectively.

Athletes make the trip from up and down the NSW coastline to take part in the Championships, and it’s made all the sweeter when they can take a medal home with them at the end.

Gerringong’s Ginger Siasat started the day with a bang for the South Coast club, winning gold for the second year in the Beach Sprint, this time in the U11 category.

Ginger was certainly a favourite after her showings in the heats but was pushed all the way in the final by Terrigal’s Paige Casey, claiming the victory in what could best be described as a photo finish.

The same could almost have been said for The Lakes’ Zach Mitchell, who was leading late in the U11 Male Board Race before a string of waves helped Coogee’s Roman Szabo to be neck and neck with the Central Coast competitor less than 100m from the shore.

Having won the U10 race last year, Zach stayed calm and collected and finished strongly to take out his second win – though his eyes are already on a third!

Another to defend her title from last year in Swansea was Tully Kippax, who proved too strong for the field in the U9 Female Board Race. She is the first in a handful of Black Head SLSC juniors expected to do well this weekend, with Ella and Ashleigh Pegrum showing potential to be players in the U12 category tomorrow.

Meanwhile, after more than seven hours travelling to get to the Northern beaches, Yamba representative Clarence Dougherty won’t be making the return trip empty handed after claiming the U9 Male Board Race.

At the end of day one, South Maroubra hold a narrow lead atop the table from Coogee and North Bondi.

Thursday 24 February 2022