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400 lifesavers hit Mackay for North Aussies

More than 400 athletes from Port Douglas down to Hervey Bay will hit the surf and sand in Mackay this weekend (October 21-23) when they battle it out for gold at Surf Life Saving Queensland’s (SLSQ) 2016 North Australian Championships.

The annual event will see some of the region’s top competitors from under 11 through to opens and masters converge on Mackay, across three days to contest a wide range of surf life saving events including beach flags, sprints, surf ski, pool rescue, surf boats, inflatable rescue boat racing, and the prestigious ironman and ironwoman.

SLSQ surf sports manager Stuart Hogben is expecting some tough competition across the weekend as athletes from North Queensland, Central Queensland and Wide Bay Capricorn compete for one of the prestigious regional titles up for grabs.

“The North Australian Championships is one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events on the regional lifesaving calendar each year,” he said.

“This year we’ll see some of the region’s top athletes lining up, and I have no doubt that it’s going to be a hotly contested event.

“Cairns has been the club to beat in recent years and will be out to win an incredible 7th straight title, but there are plenty of clubs eager to knock them off and you can never discount the home-ground advantage that Mackay will have coming into the weekend,” he said.

As with any surf lifesaving carnival, Mr Hogben said the competition was all based around refining the core skills required to patrol Queensland’s coastline and keep beachgoers safe.

“At the end of the day, all of our sporting events are designed to help our members refine and test their core lifesaving skills in a competitive environment,” he said.

“Whether it’s reading the surf or paddling out past the break as quickly as possible, the core skills that you’ll see in action across the weekend are the exact same ones that our patrolling members use each and every weekend to watch over and protect beachgoers.

“On behalf of SLSQ I would like to thank the Mackay Regional Council for its vital and continued support of this event,” he said.

Competition at this year’s North Australian Championships kicks off on Friday 21 October with the Champion Lifesaver event, first aid competition and high-octane IRB racing contested at Harbour Beach from 10:30am-2:00pm.

The first day of competition will also include the pool rescue component at Mackay Memorial Swim Centre from 9:00am-5:00pm, which sees lifesavers transfer their beach skills to the still water.

The action will continue at Mackay’s Harbour Beach on Saturday 22 October with junior, open and masters athletes set to compete in a full day of beach, board and ski events, battling it out for a spot in Sunday’s finals.

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