February Competition and Carnival Report
The last month has seen a flurry of activity from our competition teams and with four weeks to go until the Junior Victorian Championships and six until the Youth/Senior Vics, we expect to see our team members back in the pool, on their boards, putting on their running shoes and working on improving their skills and fitness in the count down.
You might have also noticed our newly invigorated Portsea IRB Racing team running training sessions at the Backbeach. IRB racing is quite technical and requires compulsory training hours to ensure the safety and skill development of the competitors. We have ~20 members upskilling their awards and racing drills in anticipation of the first carnival of the season, which is being held at South Melbourne Beach from 3pm on Saturday 13 February. If you are looking for something to do this weekend, the team would love you to come down and cheer them on. Being novice crews they’ll have much to learn but we wish them luck as they kick off what for many of them will be their first time racing.
Over the summer holiday break we were fortunate enough to have Sam Sheppard, seven times winner of the Lorne Pier to Pub, take up a temporary coaching job for the team. Sam took sessions for both the junior and senior teams, at the back beach and in the bay, swimming and boarding. Feedback was very positive and we look forward to working with Sam again next summer. The rewards for training were seen in the results at the Portsea Swim Classic. Domi Hart took out both the 1.5km and 2.5km women’s events. In the Junior Men Xavier Purcell, Harvey Larke and Emile Stigter took 1,2,3 and in the Junior Women Steph Hunter and Mackie Hunter went 1,2 in a photo finish. Master Competitor Anthony Purcell swam the fastest time of the day to take out the Men’s 50-59 age group. Not to be left out, our Junior competitors Hamish Evans and Paige Guthridge took out the 500m boys and girls events.
Covid cancellations saw the postponement of all pre-Christmas events. The first official LSV carnivals on Jan 30/31 unfortunately followed a day of torrential rains and poor water quality, which saw the cancellation of the ocean events at both the junior and youth/senior carnivals. Beach events still went ahead and a small contingent of junior competitors had great fun at the season opener on the sand at Mordialloc.
Next up was the Lorne Double Header Masters/Youth/Senior event. Saturday was the Victorian Masters Ocean Event Championships for our 30 years plus competitors. The sun rose over Loutitt Bay to welcome a perfect day for our Masters – blue sky and smallish surf. Nine of Portsea’s dedicated statesmen and women pulled on the red and white and raced individual and team events, swimming, boarding and ski paddling. Everyone bought home a medal of one colour or another, with stories to tell of the day. Michael “Whippy” Wilson was the stand-out performer with four individual GOLD medals in the 70+ swim, board, ski and iron. Lyndall Willis and Annabelle White won GOLD in their Board Rescue event and Cameron Hunter won the “sympathy GOLD” of the day tearing a calf muscle in the 50-55 years iron. As he came out of the water in front of the field for the final run up the beach he pulled up lame – only to be ferried across the finish line in a fireman’s carry by the silver and bronze medallists. Such is the spirit of the Master’s event.
The weather turned foul for the Youth/Senior Carnival on Sunday. The surf jacked up and would provide for some spectacular racing, with boards and skis flying skyward. Our Portsea team showed some promising results in the Youth U14/15 area and in the U17 arenas. The double ski events saw Matt Mahon and his daughter Charlotte saddle up for the mixed event, and Harvey Larke and Xavier Purcell debut in the U19 double ski. Harvey won the individual surf race and led the Portsea surf team to a commanding win in the U17 races. Mackie Hunter had victory snatched from her in the U15 women’s swim by a Mordialloc rival who came through on a wave but made up by running across the line first in the team swim. Steph Hunter placed second in her U17 surf race and Sophie Courtney showed great promise on the board. The U14/15 men placed mid field in most of their events but gained valuable surf experience in preparation for their trip north to represent Portsea at the Youth Aussies. The beach team Oscar Hunter and Griffin Mitchell welcomed new recruit Blair Nuske and teamed up with a Williamstown runner to take first and second places in the 2 x 2km Beach Relay event.
Down in the boat arena Stephen Blewett was lucky enough to have five rowers to rotate through the seats as they competed in the Open Women’s Surf Boat round robin races. Getting the low down afterwards, Steve is extremely confident in the crew and their boat speed and is looking to improve on their surf skills in the lead up to Vics and Aussies. Go girls!
Looking ahead over the next couple of weeks, many of our surf swimmers will be focussing on the pool state championships, with a number of them already qualified for the Swimming Australia National Age Championships.
The Junior Lifesaving Champs return to Warrnambool on the Labour Day long weekend and then the Youth/Senior Champs will be held at Lorne on the weekend of March 20/21.
Following on from the pool nationals in April, we will have teams attending both the SLSA Youth Aussies and the SLSA Open Aussies on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Hopefully borders stay open and we will be able to report back on the efforts and highlights of the teams.