Senior State Titles Warrnambool

This long report is testament to our success and the managers’ details from multiple areas, in multiple events, and reflects the team excitement that has occurred as our younger members stamped their authority in the competition arena.  For the first time in years, the Senior State Titles moved back onto the long weekend at the Warrnambool and we truly burst onto the scene. Portsea is finally seeing return on investment in our Nipper and Youth competition program with one of our biggest senior teams in years entering across a number of age groups and disciplines.  The change in LSV scheduling meant our competitors from both the U14 and U15 age groups transitioned to Seniors in the same year. We correctly predicted that this would be a decision that favoured our club and even more so after the cancelling of the second day of the Nipper Champs – at least in seniors, our U14 group were saved the fate of no team water events at the Junior Champs.

If you want all the exciting race details, please read on but in summary:

On top of the thirteen U14/15 youth who came away with five individual and six team medals, we had three U17 girls who successfully buddied up with Mt Martha for team events to snatch two silver medals, three open competitors and four boat crews who won a gold and three bronze.  In total we had 34 competitors and a stunning 30 of them went home with medals!! Finals scores had Portsea finish on 95.5 points in 13th place, up from 26 points and equal 16th last year.  With our large group of fifteen U13 Nippers to move into seniors next year we predict an exciting future for our Youth/Senior Competition Team.

Check Out Action Pics

Now for those who want all the Championship details, first up is the Boat Area report.  It was great day of racing for the Portsea Boat Section – all rowers coming home with a medal. They represented the club with dignity and pride, both on and off the water, making Portsea a respected name within the surfboat community.

Stephen Blewett and the Open Women had one of the girls suffer a season ending injury in their previous trip interstate but despite that, used their still water rowing contacts to bring in a fresh face and definitely gave the favourites a scare. In each race the girls were up there in the placings and came away with the Bronze medal.  

Our Under 23 Men’s crew took on the challenge of racing in two divisions, pushing up into the Open Men’s as well as their own age group. Having a crew in each of the top Open divisions is something only two other clubs (Lorne and Torquay) achieved on the day so it was great to have the boys represent the club against some of the best rowers in the country. In the Open Men they finished in 4th and in the Under 23’s they finished equal second but brought home the Bronze after a countback.

Our newest crew to represent Portsea was our Under 23 Women, with only one of the girls returning from last season and three fresh faces – all of whom completed their Bronzes only a few short weeks ago. The girls rowed fantastically, taking on the surf and putting themselves into equal first coming into the final race. Their last race however gave them their biggest challenge so far, with one of the largest waves of the day landing in the boat as they were heading out to sea. Their first ever rollover ensued and their chance to take the gold disappeared. Despite this, they righted the boat, gathered up the oars, jumped back in, and finished the race. A true show of character, and something that did not go unnoticed on the beach as their efforts were rewarded with the Bronze medal. Reputation is everything in this sport and the girls have showed that we will not back down from a challenge.

Finally was our Reserve Grade Women’s crew. These girls were without a doubt the surprise package of the boat arena. With another two rowers who were new to the surf, they had been training hard for the past month with the goal to come close to the strong favourite – Lorne, an experienced surf crew. Our girls took each race head on, making it through to the Semi and then into the Final. Getting off the beach well they sat a boat length behind the leading Lorne crew at the turn. Through pure determination, they rowed Lorne down, edging them out across the finish line to bring home Portsea’s 5th ever State Gold medal in surf boat racing.

Our three Open men were Nick Tissot, who was defending champion in the open men’s Beach Flags and made the final to place 6th.  Matt Mahon and Julian Grainger, there to support their own children, pulled on the Portsea caps to race Surf Skis.  Both made it to the semi-finals of the single ski, then paired up for 10th place in the double ski – not bad for a couple of old age Masters.

In the women’s arena Saturday started with a flurry of events which saw Chloe, Steph Mahon and Manna in the water more than they were out.

Chloe qualified in her heat of the Iron Woman and went through to Sunday’s final, then the girls were joined by Zoe from Mt Martha to finish 5th overall in the Surf Teams race. In the Board Relay the girls paddled well with Chloe, Steph then Manna – the girls narrowly missing out on a place in the final. Next up was the Surf Race with solid swims by all 3 of our girls and Manna (10th), Chloe (16th) and Steph finishing in the top 24 too. After a quick refuel the girls teamed up with Miki from Mt Martha again for the Board Rescue event. Chloe and Steph narrowly missed a place in finals whilst Manna and Miki from Mt Martha paddled well for a place in Sunday’s final. The Tube Race is fast and furious and saw Chloe, Steph and Manna on the line with all of the girls making the semi finals and narrowly missing out on a spot in the final.

Saturday wrapped up with the Tube Rescue Race, with a debut for Manna’s new pink size 44 flippers! Needing a team of four, the girls were joined by Zoe of Mt Martha. After a quick review of the boy’s event and having missed marshalling for the U17 event whilst the girls were finishing their earlier Tube Race, it was a mad dash to the line to marshal for the Open Women’s Tube Rescue Race (eeekkk!) against a very strong looking W’bool ladies team on their home turf and a field of other strong surf teams. As the patient, Chloe made quick work of the swim to her allocated buoy and signalled for her tube swimmer. Next up, on the signal, Manna ran into the water, nimbly slipped on her pink flippers for a fast swim out to recover Chloe and tow her back to shore strapped in the tube. A reasonable swell made it difficult for the beach spectators to track their progress, but suddenly they popped up in the waves in mid position. Making quick work of the return leg, Manna and patient Chloe zipped past 2 teams and were catching the W’bool ladies. Handing patient Chloe over to Steph and Mt Martha’s Zoe, our girls powered up the beach just behind W’bool for a solid SILVER medal. Awesome effort by Chloe, Steph and Manna and a true demonstration of the relevance of a competition event to a real life rescue scenario!!

Sunday started overcast and gloomy with an early Lifesaver Relay event….a first for Portsea which had the officials questioning whether we’d entered the right race! A real spectator event, bringing together many lifesaving disciplines, both men and women and multiple age groups into one single race.  The race started well with a mixed gender surfboat team heading into the swell. Performing well, the team handed over to Manna Johnson for the swim leg after a quick briefing on the rules from Jools on the start line. Manna was unfazed by the line-up of burly blokes, including Mack Horton’s training partner and an Aussies GOLD medallist!  Manna completed a solid swim and tagged Nick Tissot for the board leg. Nick chased down the pack to tag Matt Mahon for the ski leg and Matt nimbly navigated the waves to tag Hampton LSC’s U19 Gold medal sprinter, Olivia for a dash across the line.

Sunday’s pace of events was much more relaxed than Speedy Saturday with the U17 girls lining up for the Board Race, Tube Race final, Board Rescue final, the Iron final and 2 Surf Belt races. The girls performed well in Board Race heats finishing mid pack. Both Chloe and Manna delivered solid swims in the Tube Race finals finishing mid pack.  The Board Rescue saw Manna and Mt Martha’s Miki teaming up once again to finish 3rd in the semi to secure a spot in the final. With a long break in events for lunch, the girls refuelled and sourced a Belt & Reel from Pt Leo for the 5 (wo)man Surf Belt Race, joined once again by Mt Martha’s Miki and Emma. Their ‘can do’ attitude saw the girls line up for both the Open and U17 events.  The girls narrowly missed a bronze medal in the Open, but backed it straight up with a solid SILVER medal performance in the U17 event with another strong swim by Manna and some strategic reeling from Chloe, making this is our new “pet event”.

Sunday afternoon wrapped up with the Iron final.  Despite the long wait, Chloe represented the U17 girls for the final event of 2K19 States and pulled another solid board and swim out of the bag.

In all, a brilliant weekend, which cemented new and old friendships, and has the girls already planning the 2020 season.

2019 saw our U14/15 youth and their parents head down to Warrnambool for the State Youth Titles, some for the 6th year in a row, with talk of huge surf and tricky conditions generating a lot of pre-event chatter. The U14 team was one man down after Will Allen tore the ligaments in his hand three days beforehand. On arrival, the conditions were pretty benign with 1-3 foot waves, “perfect for us” they said as usual. The U14 boys jumped straight out of the blocks on Saturday with a Bronze in the Beach Relay to Charlie, Tom, Ned and Cormac, the boys’ first ever State beach medal! It was an inspiring performance and the boys were justifiably proud of their efforts. Heats of the tube race, board rescue, ironman, surf race and board race followed with Portsea seeing very strong numbers proceeding to the semis and finals the next day in both the boys and girls youth arenas.

Given the number of events and the likelihood of deteriorating weather over the course of the weekend, it was decided that the finals for the boys Surf Teams, Board Relay and Cameron Relay would be held then and there on the Saturday afternoon. Reigning champs in all 3 events, the Portsea U14 boys were quietly confident but fully aware of the improvement and hard training of rival clubs. In the U14 Surf Teams, Harvey, Xavier, Emile and Ned finished strongly for a Silver behind Lorne. All four boys finished in the top 11, with Harvey leading the way in 4th. The team of Tom, Cormac, Charlie and Hamish also performed well, finishing just outside the medals. In the Board Relay, the ever-reliable Xavier got the team off to a great start as usual with Harvey and Ned negotiating some tricky conditions to finish 5th overall. Emile, Cormac and Tom weren’t far behind in 7th. In the U14 Cameron Relay, the board leg was off first and Xavier didn’t disappoint coming in equal first on the same wave as the leaders. A strong run by Ned and handover to Harvey saw a tight battle for the lead. Harvey caught a great wave out the back to lead the race heading into shore but another small wave saw our great rivals Lorne nudge themselves into the lead and not even Cormac could close the 10m gap. Another great result with Silver to the boys.

In the U15 boys events we only had one competitor but Tom Regan, as in his previous Nipper years, was an absolute standout.  He took Silver in the Surf Race, Silver in the Tube Race, 5th in the Board Race and a very definitive GOLD in the U15 Iron.  In the Cameron Relay Tom buddied up with athletes from Williamstown and Hampton to make a composite team. A strong board leg by the Williamstown paddler and a super swim from Tom saw the team leading in the dying stages of the race until the surf gods favoured Mornington and saw them dial a wave and push Tom’s team into Silver. For the Williamstown paddler this was his first ever medal and his excitement was palpable.

On Sunday, it was finals day. Cormac got the day off to a good start with a well-fought 5th in the long run. Portsea made up 3 of the 8 teams in the U14 boys Board Rescue final and they didn’t disappoint with Harvey/Xavier finishing with the Bronze, Ned/Cormac 7th and Charlie’s composite team 8th. The hard luck story of the day went to Xavier in the Board final. A strong paddle saw him in 2nd place in the final stages but a party wave brought half the field into contention and he finished a creditable 9th. In the Tube Race Cormac was our only representative in the U14 Tube Race final, a race made for his strong wading and sprinting abilities-6th place in a strong field was an excellent result. The final U14 race of the day was the Ironman, with Harvey 5th, Xavier 9th and Ned 12th.

In the girls youth arena Portsea had two U14 and two U15 girls who competed in their own age group individual events and joined together for the team events.  Holly and Charlotte made the U14 Surf Race final, with Holly finishing a very credible 11th in a strong field.  In the U15 Surf Race Steph Hunter was one of two girls well in front of the field until courtesy of a freak wave they were both overtaken by an Ocean Grove swimmer and Steph was pushed into third place for the Bronze.  The Tube Race was a sprint to the cans and Steph was just out-touched into the Silver medal. The U15 girls Iron was another battle of the waves that saw the lead change a number of times and finally left Steph in 5th place.  In the U15 Board Relay, Steph and Georgie were joined by Holly Grainger and paddled amazingly well to earned valuable club points in 4th spot.  

The U15 team race excitement boiled over with the U15 girls Cameron Relay.  Georgie led off with a very solid board paddle that kept the team well in touch of the leaders.  Despite a massive blood blister on her sole from stepping on a nail, Charlotte sprinted around the flags and tagged Steph Hunter who went into the water in 5th place, with her work clearly cut out for her if she was to have any chance of catching the field.  As so often happens in team events, athletes rise to the challenge and before long Steph was into 4th and eying down the Mentone swimmer.  Around the cans and into the wave zone Steph was gaining ground quickly.  Smart tactics by Holly saw her stay close to shore for the final tag as Steph surfed the team into a Bronze, although she didn’t even realise it – until her team mates ran down the beach cheering, to give her a huge hug for her efforts.  Well done to Holly and Charlotte – the only two U14’s on the dais with the older girls!!

This excitement and team spirit summed up the weekend.  We all had an absolute ball representing our proud club.  A big thankyou to our area managers Anthony Purcell, Victoria Johnson, Sam Kerr, Andrew Regan, Jackson McCaffrey and Stephen Blewett, to Nat Hood and Nick Tissot who acted as officials, to those who did water safety, setup and packup, and to Matt Mahon for organising the Team Dinner that saw 70 plus team members and supporters come together to celebrate our endeavours.  As the Victorian Competition season draws to a close we move onto Aussies, and Portsea will have 5 boys and 4 girls attending the Youth Aussies and 3 boat crews entered in the Open Aussies. Well done to all and best of luck to our competitors heading North to the Gold Coast.

Competitor Listing

U14 boys

Harvey Larke, Hamish Wilson-Moran, Xavier Purcell, Emile Stigter, Ned Betts, Cormac O’Callaghan, Tom Wilson, Charlie Deacon.  Will Allen (injured)

U14 girls

Charlotte Mahon, Holly Grainger

U15 boys

Tom Regan

U15 girls

Georgie Kerr, Steph Hunter

U17 girls

Steph Mahon, Manna Johnson, Chloe Dowling

Open Women’s Boat Crew

Alexandra Hagan

Em Von Moger

Amanda Rukuwai

Mel Von Moger

Reserve Women’s Boat Crew

Madeleine Thomas

Alexandra Conway

Lilly Skacej

Sara Dingle

U23 Women’s Boat Crew

Peta Saul

Clare Ward

Anna Salmon

Faith Gasparini

U23 Men’s Boat Crew

Hamish Molnar

Charlie Forbes

Nick Waddell

Ben Taylor

Boat Sweeps

Jackson McCaffrey

Stephen Blewett

Open Men

Matt Mahon, Julian Grainger, Nick Tissot