2019 Youth Aussies

It was with great excitement that 9 members of the Portsea Youth team headed up to North Burleigh, Qld for the 2019 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships (“Aussies”).

It was a fabulous fun-filled weekend and all team members represented the Red & White with distinction, competing strongly with some terrific performances against the best in Australia. 

Saturday was Individual event day and the big highlight of the day was Tom Regan taking the Silver Medal in the U15 Surf Race, narrowly missing the top spot in heavy Gold Coast conditions. Tom swam an awesome race, picking a beautiful line out and back around the cans, using his Portsea Back Beach surf skills to crack a big wave from out the back all the way in. A fantastic effort at his first Aussies and one to watch going forward!!

Other highlights on Saturday in the U15 arena were Steph Hunter’s surf race heat where she stormed her way into the semis with a very strong 4th after making the bold decision to run well down the beach to take advantage of a strong sweep that was dragging swimmers from left to right in the water. This surf knowledge is one of the key benefits of being part of the Portsea competition team. Sophie Courtney also had a strong swim at her first Aussies. Georgie Kerr finished 9th in her board race heat, which was a typical gutsy performance through big and challenging surf, the exact conditions that she thrives in.

In the U14 arena, Charlotte Mahon showed us what she’s made of with a big swim in the surf race. The four U14 Portsea boys learnt some valuable lessons, with the best results being Xavier Purcell’s 9th in the surf race heat to get through to the semi and Harvey Larke’s 6th in the board race heat to get through to the quarters. Emile Stigter showed his consistency with top half performances in all three of the iron, surf race and board race heats, while Charlie Deacon took on the big surf with typical gusto and aggression (in the same manner he attacked the free icy poles later in the day). There was even a “wildlife warning” (SLSA code name for an ocean creature with sharp teeth) that stalled proceedings for an hour or so before competition resumed.

As the sun set on day one, the full touring team of 16 athletes and managers gathered to share stories and celebrate successes at the Portsea Team Dinner at The Collective in Palm Beach, a unique market style venue with five kitchens serving up American, Italian, Mexican, Asian and contemporary Australian.

Sunday started early for some, with the 2km Open Water Swim event at Burleigh. Tom, Emile, Steph and Sophie competed admirably, placing 5th, 11th,14th, and 15th respectively. Girls team manager Cam Hunter managed to arrange a pre-race photo shoot, pep talk and career tips (keep up your studies!!) for his charges from Bondi Rescue star Anthony ‘Harries’ Carroll.

After the ocean swim it was a dash back to the main arena for Team event day. The age group for teams at Youth Aussies is U15, so a number of U14 competitors had to step up and compete against the bigger bodies of their older competitors. The surf conditions were much more benign but still featured a gutter, sand bank and inconsistent surf. In the girls’ arena Steph, Sophie, Georgie and Charlotte competed well in the cameron relay, board relay and surf teams, with Charlotte Mahon having a good swim in the surf teams despite being U14. The other highlight was the board rescue where Charlotte and Georgie paddled well together and Sophie and Steph caught a ripping wave to miss the next round by only one position. The four girls didn’t let a dropped baton in the beach relay get in the way of a good time, with the team featuring in the LSV Livestream and Instagram story.

In the boys arena Tom Regan got his younger teammates off to flying starts in the cameron relay and board relay, emerging from the water in the top bunch each time. A highlight was the four U14 boys’ performance in the U15 surf teams, where Xavier, Harvey, Emile and Charlie finished 6th against their older competitors, missing the semi by one spot. Harvey/Xavier and Emile/Charlie also had a great time in the board rescue.

Overall, it was a great experience for all the boys and girls, with lots of laughs, big smiles, plenty of noise warnings from the hotel manager and an invaluable learning experience for the future. This is the second year in a row that Portsea has sent a team to Youth Aussies and momentum is building, with all team members leaving the beach extremely motivated for next summer.

The Youth Team:

  • Tom Regan
  • Sophie Courtney
  • Steph Hunter
  • Georgie Kerr
  • Charlotte Mahon
  • Xavier Purcell
  • Harvey Larke
  • Emile Stigter
  • Charlie Deacon

For all the action, livestream and results, see https://sls.com.au/aussies/

For action shots from the event, see https://www.harvpix.com/slsa.php

Mark down 18-26 April 2020 in your diaries for next year’s Aussies, with Youth Aussies back at North Burleigh (18-19 April 2020), Masters Aussies at Broadbeach (20-21 April 2020) and Open Aussies at Broadbeach (22-26 April 2020). A number of the team have already re-booked!

Congrats to all our 2019 Aussies Team.

Nat Hood