Host-club Maroochydore has turned the tide on its big rival Northcliffe to take top honours at this year’s Queensland Surf Life Saving Youth Championships.
Maroochydore was pipped by Northcliffe by just one point this time last year and the club entered the 2015 championships determined to take top honours.
Making the most of local conditions and roared on by enthusiastic home support, they did exactly that, dominating the three day competition on its way to finish on 364 points, ahead of Alexandra Headlands (234 points) and Northcliffe (225).
The club entered the third and final day of competition with a commanding 74-point lead and a series of strong performances on Sunday, including 14 race wins, ensured the result was never in doubt.
Maroochydore coach Nathan Greig was full of praise for his team’s effort across the past few days.
“It’s a fantastic result for the club and to do it at home in particular has been great,” he said.
“I think it always means more to do it at your home beach and, especially, to have everyone’s friends and family around and coming down to support the kids has been great to see as well.
“I was a bit surprised (by the final margin) to be honest. We’ve been in the top two when it comes to the overall point score for the past seven years and, during that time, we’ve never ever been beaten by that much or beaten someone else by that much, so it’s pretty unbelievable.
“A lot of work’s gone into this moment and it’s been a really long process. I started here about eight or nine years ago coaching the nippers and we’ve built and built and, while we’ve moved up and down, we’ve always been right up there.
On the final day of competition it was Maroochydore’s Joseph McMenamin leading from the front, taking out the under-12 ironman, surf board and surf race.
The gold rush continued for the host club with Grace Kaijau taking out the under-15 ironwoman final before winning the under-15 surf board ahead of team-mates Shaye Travers and Alexandra Clarke.
There was plenty of joy for other Sunshine Coast clubs, with Alexandra Headlands taking out the under-11 male beach relay and Noosa Heads taking out the female race.
Noosa’s Cooper Williams was awarded the Matthew Barclay Memorial Trophy for his win in the under-15 ironman final. It capped off a stunning weekend, with Williams also winning the under-15 surf board, surf race and rescue tube.
Gold Coast clubs had their share of success as well, with Northcliffe’s Nicole Conyngham winning gold in the under-15 female surf race and Madisyn Armstrong taking out the under-14 race. The girls then combined with Georgia Moore and Imogen Rees to claim the under-15 female surf team event.
Tugun took out both the under-14 and the junior five-person rescue and resuscitation (R&R) event, while North Kirra prevailed in the under-14 two-person R&R.
Mermaid Beach AEME showed its class on the sand, winning the junior all age relay and the under-15 male beach relay, while Kurrawa’s Sahara McCarthy won the under-11 female surf race before backing up to claim gold in the under-11 ironwoman.
North Barrier also performed strongly on the final day, with Lauren Nugent winning the under-12 ironman final and the team winning the junior two-person R&R.
Tannum Sands Ryan Bebendorf performed strongly win a silver medal in the under-14 male surf board, and William Morrison from Emu Park won silver in the under-11 male beach sprint.
SLSQ sport manager Stuart Hogben congratulated Maroochydore on their win and said all teams had performed well across the weekend.
“We’ve seen some fantastic performances across the entire three days of competition and congratulations to Maroochydore for winning the overall point score,” he said.
“These kids are the future of surf lifesaving and it was great to see almost 1,500 youngsters from all corners of Queensland out there having fun and giving it their best.”
The focus now shifts to the Queensland State Open Championships next weekend, where the state’s top ironmen and women will converge on the Sunshine Coast for three days of action-packed racing.
For final results, please visit: http://sportqld.carnival.sls.com.au/eventmgr/results/report/public/347/1
To view photos, please visit SLSQ’s Facebook Page