Defending Open Iron champion, 17-year-old Ollie Sharpe and his club, Lennox Head-Alstonville SLSC, is preparing to lead the charge for the smaller clubs at the 2023 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships at Cape Hawke SLSC next week from 27-29 January.
At last year’s event, Ollie skipped the U17 Iron and moved straight to the Open race. He stunned spectators and won the race, adding to his U17 Board Race victory earlier in the day. His sister, Niamh also enjoyed success in the U15 Board race and in the surfing, the U15 Board Riding event.
‘I was super stoked with my results last year,’ said Ollie.
‘I haven’t been training much over the Christmas break, but I am looking forward to Country – it’s one of my favourite carnivals.
‘It’s about the atmosphere for me,’ he said.
‘Country just creates this great atmosphere – you’ve got U8s to Masters, board riding and the surf boats all racing on the same beach on the same weekend.
‘Everyone gets around the races and cheers each other on in true country style and it creates a great environment.’
Last year, Lennox Head-Alstonville fell just short of a podium finish on the overall point score with a terrific showing, particularly from a strong young core of athletes.
Ollie believes there’s no reason they can’t be there again, building from the same foundations, and he says to keep an eye on the smaller clubs.
‘At Lennox we have some amazing junior athletes coming through and some older members with lots of passion for the sport, but I wouldn’t underestimate any of the smaller clubs, especially if the conditions are a bit challenging at Cape Hawke,’ he said.
‘The goal for the club is to encourage and support as many athletes as possible to get involved in the sport.
‘We try to encourage great sportsmanship and build kids’ confidence and ocean skills through participation in carnivals just like this one.’
The Championships attracts around 1500 competitors from surf clubs outside the metropolitan areas of NSW.
For event information go to: https://www.surflifesaving.com.au/event/2023-oakberry-acai-nsw-country-championships.