Surf Life Saving NSW, Media Release, 4 March 2021
The second weekend of the State Championships will see the elite surf and beach athletes line up against both the unexpected heroes and future stars with over 1,100 athletes representing 78 clubs from all 10 branches.
For the Nutri-Grain Iron Series competitors, this weekend with be the third consecutive weekend of high-intensity racing after six rounds of the Iron Series and the Shannon Eckstein Challenge.
For her second year, Open State Championship Referee Jenny Kenny (Cudgen Headland) will head up an experienced team of volunteer officials and support crew for a weekend that is expected to present some sizable surf.
“I’m looking forward to giving the athletes some exciting competition in possibly challenging conditions,” said Kenny.
“The last two years of State Champs we’ve had very small, near-flat conditions on the Opens weekend of competition so it will be good to have a wave for the water athletes,” she said of conditions. “At Swansea Belmont we won’t get the full brunt of the predicted conditions due to the direction the beach faces and the protection of the island from the big south swells, but it will be great to have waves for the senior athletes.”
The Hunter’s local Nutri-Grain Next-Gen success stories and locals Kye Taylor (Swansea Belmont) and Bella Williams (Cooks Hill) will also be going for gold.
Taylor admitted he’s looking forward to coming up against rival Zach Morris (Newport) in the Under 19 Ironman. “Zach raced so well throughout the Nutri-Grain Series,” he said. “He now has the experience I would have loved so I want to see how I come up against him this weekend. The Under 19 Board Race is also on my radar. It’s the Jacob Lollback Memorial race and I was so close last year and I’d love to get the win this year,” he said.
Taylor and his Swansea Belmont team (7th place in 2020) will certainly have the home advantage in the coveted Taplin Relay especially with the swell turning on. “Every year, Swansea Belmont is getting closer and closer to the top clubs in the Open Taplin. Our Under 19s crew are getting very experienced and we’re all really excited to see how we match up this year.”
Charlie Verco (North Bondi) is returning as defending State Champion in the Under 19 Ironman and Board Race as well as part of the Under 19 Taplin Team. Verco was unexpectedly called in as a wildcard to the Nutri-Grain Iron Series last weekend after the withdrawal of Tanyn Lyndon.
Newport SLSC will have as strong a team as ever with Nutri-Grain Iron podium finisher Lizzie Welborn as well as teammates, Jackson Borg, Jemma Smith, Isaac Smith, Maddie Spencer, Emily Doyle and Zach Morris all ready to dominate and defend the club’s title. The Northern Beaches club finished on top of the 2020 point score with 568 points, 181 points ahead of second-placed Wanda.
Last year certainly was Emily Doyle’s year. The now 19-year-old made history winning 11 State Titles including both the Under 19 and Open Ironwoman races.
“Thinking about State brings back so many great memories for me, it sounds soppy – but it just makes me so happy knowing we’re getting to get out there after the year we’ve had,” said Doyle.
“State last year was such a memorable moment in my life and I’ve really missed that racing environment where everyone supports each other. I did a million team events last year and loved everyone. They’re absolutely my favourite because there’s pressure but you’re there with your best friends. With a team it’s just such a great environment. It’s fun no matter where you place,” she said.
On the beach track, Mollymook will once again bring their top team including Sam Zustovich who took out the Under 19 Beach Flags and Sprint as well as the Open Beach Flags in 2020.
“I’ve really enjoyed going to State Champs since I was little. It’s the first carnival that really gets you pumped to compete well, and it sets you up to have a good crack at Aussies,” said the State champ. “You know everyone wants to end the day on top and get that mental advantage so you’ve got to be ready.” Zustovich will come up against long-time rival and Australian Champion Blake Drysdale once again this year. Watch out for this action on Saturday at Redhead.
Zustovich will be leading the South Coast team that includes up-and-comer Jack Bridges (Mollymook) (aka the Flying Fringe) who took out the Under 17 Beach Flags last year and will now take on the hotly contested Under 19 division.
The black and white caps of Mollymook are also expected to be strong in the female division with Payton Williams, the female Open Beach Flag State Champion back to have another crack. She will be joined by a number of young athletes including Karla Jones who is aiming to claim the Under 17 Beach Flags title she just missed out on last year.
From the Far North Coast, Cudgen Headland (20th place in 2020) will once again travel the furthest to compete and continue to drive their way up the point score. Head Coach Scott McCartney says the team is amped to be racing and can’t wait to get on the line with surf. “No doubt it’s been a strange year since we last raced at State Champs,” said McCartney. “Our team is raring to go. We’ve been training hard and have a number of athletes and teams who should make a dent in the finals which will be exciting to watch.”
The NSW Championships also include two memorial races – the Saxon Bird Memorial Under 19 Surf Race and the Jacob Lollback Memorial Under 19 Board Race, both to be held on Sunday 7 March at Swansea Belmont.
The event will be live-streamed on SLSNSW Facebook and Youtube from 8am on Sunday 7 March including pre-recorded junior Championships and Beach events highlights.
*Please note due to COVID-19 this year’s State Championships have strict bio-zone limitations around competitor, official and spectator numbers to comply with NSW Health regulations.
Far North Coast – 6 clubs, 39 competitors
Ballina Lighthouse & Lismore, Byron Bay, Cudgen Headland, Lennox Head – Alstonville, Salt, Yamba
North Coast – 4 clubs, 19 competitors
Coffs Harbour, Sawtell, Urunga, Woolgoolga
Mid North Coast – 3 clubs, 12 competitors
Port Macquarie, Tacking Point, Wauchope-Bonny Hills
Lower North Coast – 2 clubs, 5 competitors
Black Head, Cape Hawke
Hunter – 8 clubs, 109 competitors
Caves Beach, Catherine Hill Bay, Cooks Hill, Fingal Beach, Nobbys, Redhead, Swansea Belmont, Stockton
Central Coast – 13 clubs, 105 competitors
Avoca, Killcare, MacMasters, North Avoca, North Entrance, Ocean Beach Shelly Beach, Soldiers Beach, Terrigal, The Lakes, Toowoon Bay, Umina, Wamberal
Sydney Northern Beaches – 13 clubs, 275 competitors
Avalon Beach, Collaroy, Dee Why, Freshwater, Manly, Mona Vale, Newport, North Curl Curl, North Narrabeen, North Steyne, Queenscliff, Palm Beach, Warriewood
Sydney – 13 clubs, 480 competitors
Bondi, Bronte, Burning Palms, Clovelly, Coogee, Cronulla, Elouera, Maroubra, North Bondi, North Cronulla South Maroubra, Tamarama, Wanda
Illawarra – 9 clubs, 36 competitors
Bellambi, Bulli, Coledale, Corrimal, Helensburgh-Stanwell Park, North Wollongong, Thirroul, Towradgi, Wollongong City
South Coast – 5 clubs, 43 competitors
Gerringong, Kiama, Kiama Downs, Mollymook, Warilla Barrack Point
The 2021 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly supported by Your local club, continues for the next three weekends at Swansea Belmont and Redhead SLSCs with the Open competitors battling it out from 5-7 March, Masters and Lifesaving events 12-14 March and Surf Boats 19-21 March.