Australia Day Carnival Report

On the Australia Day long weekend Portsea had a large contingent of competitors, their families and supporters travel to Sydney for an intensive weekend of racing and training.

Our Surf Boat Rowers had three crews, all swept by Jackson McCaffrey. We had three Youth Athletes competing with the Victorian State Team, and four of our Nipper Competition Team, who had an intensive weekend of socialising and training, joining in sessions with other like-minded Victorian clubs, all up there for the high-level competition, surf experience and warm weather.

The weekend started with the Youth Pathways Interstate Cup, a competition for the under 14/15 state teams. This is always a race between QLD and NSW for the 1st place, Vic, SA, WA for the 3rd place, and Tassie trailing into 6th spot. The state teams all stayed together at the NSW Institute of Sport, with the competition day being at Newport Beach. Steph Hunter, Victorian State Youth Team Captain, Tom Regan and Xavier Purcell were all members of the Victorian team that placed a close 4th on the interstates day.

On Australia Day, the trio competed, along with three boat crews, at the Manly Senior Carnival, one of the biggest competitions outside of the Australian Championships. Steph and Tom showed great form, making the iron finals, the only Victorians to do so. For Xavier, racing up an age group in U15 at Manly and Freshie, it was a real eye-opener competing against the bigger boys, a year older. Finishing midfield in the surf race, he eagerly explained afterwards what he had learnt and how he had improved.

Our boat crews rowed up on the northern end of the beach in medium sized – yet at times challenging surf conditions. The reserve women’s crew consisted of Maddy Thomas, Anna Salmon, Lilly Skacej and Sara Dingle, who placed 3rd in their first two heats but unfortunately were hit by a wave at the start of the third race which put them boat lengths behind the field. They recovered well, and managed to make up a lot of water, finishing just behind Avoca Beach.

Hamish Molnar, Charlie Forbes, Nick Waddell and Ben Taylor made up the under 23 men’s crew. They rowed well, particularly in their third race, demonstrating their improvement throughout the day.

On Sunday, the youth team went over the headland to Freshwater Beach for another round of racing, surf swims, boards and relays. The bright red Portsea cap was definitely noticed, with one of the senior officials reminiscing the days when SLSA put him up at the golf club so as he could run the SLSA Nutrigrain Ironman event that was held at Portsea many years ago. Again there was tough competition from the northern competitors and just to progress through a round of the board or the swim saw our young Portsea guys give themselves a big pat on the back.

Surf boats took to the water back at Manly with our second women’s crew taking to the water. Edwina Banks, Em Von Moger, Mel Von Moger and Amanda Rukuwai rowed very well in the open women’s division on Sunday, also just missing out on the finals. For many rowers, this was their first taste of an interstate carnival so it was great to experience the tough competition in New South Wales and larger surf conditions. Overall it was a successful weekend and they learned a lot for the upcoming racing.

Our Nipper Competition Team Juniors: Miles, Mackie, Emerson and Freya, cheered loudly at all the competitions and managed to surf, swim and join Mentone and Mordialloc for board/swim sessions.

Thanks to the parents who supported our juniors, Jackson McCaffrey who swept and managed our three boat crews and to Natalie Hood who officialled over the three carnival days in 35+ degree heat.

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