Victorian Masters 2023March 15, 2023
Victorian Junior State Championships 2023March 27, 2023
The 2023 Victorian Youth/Senior Lifesaving Championships were hosted by the Ocean Grove SLSC on the last weekend in February and the timing of the event saw a return of the red and white team to the beach. With swimming currently our key strength, the stars lined up to avoid a clash with any major pool meets. We also saw the return of a couple of our more experienced U19 and senior competitors and this lead to a boost in camaraderie and the ability to enter team events.
The weekend kicked of on Friday afternoon with the rescue events. Mia Horskins won a GOLD medal in the U15 women’s tube race and Mackie Hunter BRONZE in the U17 tube race. Combinations of Domi Hart, Steph Hunter, Charlotte Mahon, Mackie Hunter and Georgie Kerr won SILVER and BRONZE in the open and U19 women’s rescue tube rescue events. The tide was high which made for long tough swims. The ‘patient’ Mackie Hunter, raced to the cans and signalled, the ‘tube swimmer’, Steph or Domi, raced into the water with a tube and fins, sprinted to the can, then towed the patient back to shore. After a gruelling effort, the patient was handed over in the shallows to ‘the rescuers’ Georgie and Charlotte for the drag across the finish line.
Saturday started with the March Past. Domi Hart volunteered for the honour of representing our team, marching around the opening ceremony arena with our Portsea pennant. In the water arenas, surf races and ski races kicked. Successes went to Charlie Cornwell with GOLD in the U17 ski – a result he has dreamed of all year and sets him up well for the upcoming Kayak Nationals in WA. Big brother Gabe took GOLD in his U19 ski, and the brothers paired up to take GOLD in the U19 double ski. Xavier Purcell could only afford one day off year 12 studies, but made it count with some outstanding performances to win GOLD in the U19 iron, followed by Gabe Cornwell in BRONZE, the U19 swim GOLD, again with Gabe in BRONZE place and the U19 taplin GOLD with team mates Gabe Cornwell and Logan Brandi. Gabe Cornwell won BRONZE in the U19 board on his way to his medal haul that totalled 6 gold and 3 bronze and 4th in the open iron and open board.
Down in the youth arena, we were represented by our stalwart U15 women’s cohort. Sophie Jacka and Mia Horskins won GOLD and BRONZE in the U15 surf race, then teamed up with Amber Larke and Annabelle Mahon to take SILVER and BRONZE in the surf teams and cameron relay races. Sophie showed her strength across disciplines, and why she’d earnt her spot in the Victorian State team that raced in Sydney in January, with a second GOLD in the U15 iron event.
The men’s surf teams races were a pre-planned strategic success story. Our goal was to win all 3 ages groups of the event, using our six U17 and U19 competitors, with each individual only being allowed to swim in two of the three events. First up in U17 were Archer Larke, Hamish Robson, Logan Brandi and Charlie Cornwell – SILVER! Next up were Xavier Purcell, Gabe Cornwell, Archer Larke and Charlie Cornwell in Under 19 – GOLD! But the best was saved for last – the open men’s surf teams race – our Portsea youngsters, two U17 and two U19, all ‘bottom age’ swimmers, up against the experienced Half Moon Bay open men’s team that included 2020 Olympic 400IM bronze medallist Brendan Smith, plus one of the most experienced ocean swimmers, Sam Shepherd, and another national level swimmer. Xavier Purcell stunned the crowd by out-surfing the Olympic gun to take line honours!! As the young Portsea men kept coming out of the water, they alternated with Half Moon Bay, to have all four Portsea swimmers across the line in the top eight. We ended up tied on points for first place. The tie-break looks at the placing of the fourth swimmer, to see which team, in its entirety, was out of the water first. Portsea’s fourth swimmer was eighth and the HMB swimmer was tenth meaning our young top guns had snatched the GOLD from the star-studded team – truly outstanding and a team effort to be proud of!!
Sunday racing saw the appearance of our traditional rescue craft – the surf boats. There is no better way to warm up than with a race – that being the opening leg of the lifesaver relay. The lifesaver relay is a traditional event, held at Aussies, and comprises a surf boat, swimmer, board paddler, ski paddler and runner. The team must have four men and four women, and U17 and an U19 competitor. Our Portsea boat crew of Scarlett Blewett, Amanda Rukuwai, Alex Hagan, Em Von Moger and sweep Stephen Blewett hit the beach in first place. The results came over the radio, triggering the start of the swim leg with Logan Brandi racing into the water, then followed the Cornwell brothers Charlie and Gabe extending our lead in the craft legs. The final glory of the run across the line was left to Archer Larke. What a way to start the final day of racing with another GOLD medal in a team event and automatic qualification to represent the state at Aussies. Back in the surf boat arena our rowers progressed on through the boat race rounds to take SILVER in the open women’s boat race.
The last races of the day were the belt races – another traditional event that requires long tough swimming towing line, and skilled team work to manage the reel and safety of the belt swimmers. Mackie Hunter and Domi Hart were our swimmers and teamed up with the experienced line crew of Matt Mahon, Charlotte Mahon and Georgie Kerr who are previous belt crew finalists from Aussies. Mack’s team took GOLD and Domi’s BRONZE to top off a successfully weekend of racing.
Off the beach, team spirit prevailed and this is what makes the training and travelling all worthwhile, not just for the competitors, but all those who support them. There was a Friday night pizza, pasta, cheese and wine team gath at the cabin park, followed Saturday night by a team dinner at the Barwon Heads Hotel. A big thanks to Marni on the prolonged negotiations required to book seats for the 20+ who enjoyed festivities. Officials’ duties were required by Matt Mahon, Nat Hood, Sam Horskins and Chloe Hardman. Team managers Stu Larke, Marni Jacka, James Cornwell and Cam Hunter saw our athletes get the most out of themselves and their racing. The arduous logistics of trailer loading, unloading and towing were performed by Anthony Purcell and Chloe Hardman.
When the overall results were published, Portsea placed in 9th spot overall. We look to building our team next year, hoping to once again field a beach team – an area where we have previously shined. There are more opportunities to recruit, and we are looking to have a return of competitors who have taken time out for studies. With the local season over, a small team of Portsea representatives are making the journey to Perth for Aussies to race in the Youth and Masters’ events. We wish them luck racing in the famous red and white colours of Portsea. Thanks to all who have raced and helped over the summer competition season. Enjoy the break and we’ll hope to see you all back next year. New Comp Team members wanted – come and join us in 2024!!