Congratulations to Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club, who won the annual Surf Life Saving Country Championships for the third year running.
Held at Mollymook Beach last weekend, more than 1,200 athletes from 36 different surf clubs competed.
Friday’s perfect weather kicked off the competition, which is open exclusively to surf life saving clubs outside the metropolitan areas.
Though Cudgen Headland SLSC took an early lead in the overall club point score ahead of Byron Bay SLSC, but after a huge run of results right across all ages and divisions Byron Bay SLSC found themselves Country Champions for the fourth year in a row.
Notable performers include Joel Martin, Zoe Heiniger, Jy Timperley, Helen Murray, Gary Timperley, Frederick Middleton, Beau Carter, Meeka Campbell and Bradley Hunt to name a few.
In the water and on the sand it was all about the future of surf sports with junior athletes from U8s to U14s battling it out for points.
Byron Bay stalwart Joel Martin won both the Open and 17s flags events, and on day two with more exceptional weather, Byron took the lead in the overall scores.
Athletes from Byron who won events on day two include Joel Martin, Tex Hembrow, Seth Carter, Meeka Campbell, Beau Carter, Emilio Jimenez-Swain, Jy Timperley, Zoe Heiniger and Helen Murray.
Overall, the far north coast region once again proved its strength in surf sports with five surf clubs finishing in the top 20 overall club point score.
Byron Bay (1st), Cudgen Headland (3rd), Lennox Head Alstonville (12th), Salt (15th) and Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore (16th) each had strong showings across the weekend.
However it was the team events where the club really stood out from the rest of the pack and Byron Bay’s head coach, Paul ‘poodles’ Irwin, says he is extremely proud of the positive team culture currently at the surf club.
‘Byron’s strengths have always been our teams, which are what has helped us again this weekend. Our team members are always keen to back up and our Masters are not just interested in competing but rather developing and supporting the younger athletes is seen as being just as important.’
Byron Bay’s big rivals Cudgen Headland weren’t far off the pace and were actually winning the point score after Day 1 when their legion of young junior athletes had centre stage.
Joseph Warne, Hayley Smith, Tom Smith, Joshua Jones and Nina Jackson are just some of the young up-and-coming stars that we’ll be hearing a lot more from in the future.
Cudgen Seniors’ board coach and opens athlete, Scott McCartney, continued his incredible run of board dominance at the Country Championships, notching up his tenth victory in the Opens Board Race beating Country Ironman Champion, Ben Carberry (Warilla Barrack Point), along the way.
It seems that even smaller clubs on the far north coast are unearthing some exciting new talent with the Yamba SLSC under-8 mixed relay team coming away with a huge win at their first-ever major surf life saving carnival.
Harry Whitehouse, Sam Earle, Charlie Imeson and Ben Morris loved their first carnival away from home and didn’t find it too difficult to win.
‘It’s my first ever Country Champs and our team won gold. We all love running more than swimming but I would have thought it was going to be harder to win gold,’ said 8-year-old Charlie Imeson.
The final overall club point scores were:
1.) Byron Bay SLSC – 882.5
2.) Warilla Barrack Point SLSC – 665.5
3.) Cudgen Headland SLSC – 556
4.) Shellharbour SLSC – 462
5.) Coffs Harbour SLSC – 297
6.) Tacking Point SLSC – 295
7.) Sawtell SLSC Inc – 262
8.) Port Macquarie SLSC – 256.5
9.) Mollymook SLSC – 220.5
10.) Broulee Surfers SLSC – 147
11.) Wauchope Bonny Hills SLSC – 131
12.) Lennox Head – Alstonville SLSC – 118
13.) Moruya SLSC – 93
13.) Nowra-Culburra SLSC – 93
14.) South West Rocks SLSC – 83
15.) Salt SLSC – 79
16.) Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC – 78
17.) Yamba SLSC Inc – 74
18.) Batemans Bay SLSC – 62
19.) Black Head SLSC Inc – 59
20.) Gerringong SLSC – 54
~ Photos Steven Chu