Hundreds of surf lifesavers flocked to North Kirra on the Gold Coast on Friday for the first day of competition at the 2017 Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships.
The day saw some of Queensland’s most experienced lifesavers produce some masterful displays, in often challenging and tricky conditions.
Fifteen months ago, lifesaving stalwart Neville De Mestre broke his neck while training in the surf but today he was back in action, claiming a raft of medals including bronze in the 70+ years rescue tube, surf board, surf ski and surf swim races plus a silver medal in the 70+ years surf board rescue alongside Barry Miley.
At 78 years of age, Neville shows no signs of slowing down, saying he’d been training every day leading into the Championships.
“It’s about catching up with people who you’ve been competing with for years, and I enjoy the challenge of working out what the best strategy for your race is,” he said.
“If you go the wrong way or hit a wave at the wrong time, then someone else can come past you, so you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time.
“It means that virtually anyone can win if they’re up there and have done the training,” he said.
The day saw ironman champion Grant Kenny wind back to the clock, teaming up with Jeff Lemarseny to take out the 50-54 years double ski for Alexandra Headland, while also finishing third in the 50-54 years surf ski.
In other events, Alexandra Headlands’ Terry McLardy picked up a raft of medals including gold in the 70+ years surf ski and ironperson.
Meanwhile Northcliffe’s Lee Vrolyks was once again a dominant force in the 30-34 years category, taking home five gold medals including wins in the ironwoman, surf board, surf race, surf ski and 130+ years Taplin relay.
There was plenty of joy for other clubs, with Kurrawa, Noosa Heads, Mooloolaba, Coolangatta, Maroochydore, Dicky Beach, Surfers Paradise and plenty more all amongst the winners on day one.
While the majority of event across the day were in the masters’ category, there were also a number of under-17, under-19 and open finals held.
Northcliffe began their title defence in strong fashion, taking out the open female tube rescue final, before ironman champion Shannon Eckstein led the club’s open male team to a win in their final.
Olympian Alyssa Bull teamed up with former Australian and World Ironwoman Champion Kristy Ellis to take out the open female double ski, while the North Burleigh pairing of David Rhodes and Brad Rodgers took out the open male double ski.
The action continues tomorrow when some of the sport’s biggest names hit North Kirra for the first time these championships, including the likes of Ali Day, Matt Poole, Matt Bevilacqua, Courtney Hancock and Harriet Brown.
The 2017 Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships will see more than 1,600 athletes line up across three days of competition in their quest for state glory.
For Masters’ results, please click here.
For Seniors’ results, please click here.