Club Champs 2021 – Wrap up

With QR codes for check-in and hand sanitiser between the beach flags rounds, our Portsea members didn’t let a global pandemic stop the annual back beach event.  The enthusiasm of our competitors continues to grow each year, males, females, juniors, open and masters. The surf turned on a challenge, the weather held up and the collective organisational skills of our officials, water safety and competitors saw events finished in record time.

First up was the Open Surf Race.  In what has become tradition, all competitors lined up together in a race off for line honours.  Without any handicaps applied it’s man on man and woman on the line.  After forty years of women competing at our club champs, none has yet taken the crown and this year the Portsea Surf Life Saving Club announced that there would be a new trophy for the first female across the line.  With the can laid far out the back, behind the break, the water safety team took to the high ground, got out the binoculars and checked radio communication with the IRB.  The strength of our swimmers was evident.  The power group charged across the sand bar, another drifted down into the rip and regrouped as they were washed out together and proceeded on the long course to the can.  As usual we had the breakaways who risked the far right, far left and far, far left options.  As they disappeared over the surf horizon, spectators watched with anticipation to see who would emerge first from the ocean’s clutches.  A young gun streaked down a wave and charged out of the surf to claim line honours:  – Luke Tucker one of our U17 competitors who has come through our Nipper program and Comp Team training program proudly claimed his first Yencken Cup.  He was followed in by the defending champ Tom Regan, and topping off an U17 trifecta Harvey Larke came in third.  First female across the line was Domi Hart, again followed by the first place from last year Mackie Hunter, and her big sister Steph Hunter, all three members of our Competition Team. Congratulations to the 32 swimmers who completed the challenging swim course.

Continuing on with the water events, next up was the board race.  The solid one metre surf dumping on the sand bar saw a few of our younger members sit this one out.  The goal was to keep hold of your craft whilst waiting for a lull in the waves.  Chris Perrot showed his strength crossing the line first, with Steph Hunter winning the female category. Charlie Dowling showed his determination, the only U15 competitor to enter the race.

While the IRB moved the buoy closer to shore for the iron, Henry Kiss took control of the arena and marshalled for the beach events.  All were called to the line for the long run, down to London Bridge and back.  Griff Mitchell showed great form having done a bucket load of running training during covid lockdown, streaking the field.  Bev Thomas showed that being a Master is no detriment as she left the younger women in her wake.  Next up were beach sprints, held in near perfect hard sand conditions.  The dark horse was Angus Passons who surprised all but himself taking out the Open Beach Sprint.  Beach flags had the usual antics and cheering for the crowd favourites.

Back to the water it was time for the wade races and the iron.  Archer Larke flew the flag in the under 14 boys’ age group and took out the wade unchallenged, Miles Regan won the U15 boys and Mackie Hunter the U15 girls.  The U17, U19, Open and Masters went off together, with Oscar Hunter the overall male wade winner and Domi Hart the female wade winner.  Lining up again, the buoy on the sandbar meant that the iron would be a fast and furious sprint event.  Tom Regan took out the men’s field and Sophie Courtney the women’s.

With the events of the day concluded, the female competitors strolled up the beach to join the Pink Patrol alongside Heather Gould, one of our founding female members who was in Portsea’s first female Bronze Squad 40 seasons ago.

As the western sun hovered on the horizon, competitors gathered on the surf club deck, sharing stories and drinks with friends, listening in to the Open Surf Race presentations.  Club President Matt Mahon hosted the formalities and announced the Open Surf Race Club Champions, commemorating Domi Hart as the inaugural winner of the newly struck ‘Nat Hood Cup’ a perpetual trophy that will forever be awarded to our Female Open Surf Club Champion.

The tactics of Club Champs is to go in every event, gain points when your competitors don’t and hopefully be rewarded at the end of the day.  It’s an afternoon of endurance and determination that again this year saw our toughest, ‘give it all’ athletes come up trumps.

Congratulations to our Club Champions:

Open Men:       Tom Regan Open Women:              Domi Hart
Masters Men:   Cameron Hunter Masters Women:         Priscilla Brown
U19 Men:         Griffin Mitchell U19 Women:                Chloe Dowling
U17 Men:         Luke Tucker U17 Women:              Sophie Courtney
U15 Men:         Charlie Dowling U15 Women:                Mackie Hunter
U14 Men:         Archer Larke U14 Women:                no entrants
Yencken Cup:    Luke Tucker Nat Hood Cup:              Domi Hart