More than 500 surf sport athletes from Port Douglas down to Hervey Bay will hit the surf and sand in Mackay this month (30 October – 1 November) when they battle it out for glory and gold at Surf Life Saving Queensland’s 2015 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 Harbour Beach, 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.
Carnival manager Craig Holden expects the competition to be tough, as athletes from North Queensland, Central Queensland and Wide Bay Capricorn compete for one of the regional titles up for grabs.
“North Aussies is the most prestigious surf sports event on the regional lifesaving calendar each year and, in terms of competitor numbers, is actually the third largest in the state behind the Senior and Youth Queensland Championships,” he said.
“Each year the competition keeps getting bigger and bigger, and this year we’re expecting more than 500 lifesavers to line up across the three days of competition. It’s definitely going to be a hotly contested event and there’ll be lots of pride and passion out there as each club looks to secure bragging rights.
“Cairns has been the dominant club in recent years and they’ll be hoping to win a sixth title in a row, but Mackay has the local advantage and there are plenty of other clubs who have been travelling well and will fancy their chances of an upset this year,” he said.
As with any surf lifesaving carnival, Mr Holden 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.
“Having said that, once that starter’s gun goes, there’s definitely no holding back. Lifesavers are a passionate group, and no one’s willing to give an inch when there’s a title up for grabs,” he said.
Competition at this year’s North Australian Championships kicks off on Friday 30 October with the Champion Lifesaver event, First Aid competition, and high-octane IRB racing contested at Harbour Beach. The day will also include the pool rescue component at the Memorial Swim Centre from 9:30am – 5pm, which sees lifesavers transfer their surf skills into the still water.
The action will continue at Mackay’s Harbour Beach on Saturday 31 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.