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Queensland nippers perform strongly on day one of lifesaving champs

Hundreds of nippers have flocked to Maroochydore Beach on the Sunshine Coast for the first day of the 2015 Queensland Surf Life Saving Youth Championships.

The annual championships, which kicked off today, will see almost 1,500 of the state’s top junior lifesavers from as far north as Port Douglas right through to Rainbow Bay hit the surf and sand in their quest for one of the prestigious state titles up for grabs.

The Championships is the pinnacle sporting event each year for Queensland’s junior lifesavers aged 11-15 years.

Sunshine Coast clubs made the most of the local conditions with several clubs taking out events across the day.

Host club and last year’s runner-up, Maroochydore, made a strong start on their way to winning a number of events including the under-11 female surf board relay, under-12 female surf board rescue, under-13 male Cameron relay, under-15 female surf board relay and the under-15 male surf board rescue.

It was also a strong day for Sunshine Beach, with the club picking up a number of wins including gold in the under-11 female surf team, under-13 male and female surf team, and the under-14 female surf board rescue.

There was plenty of joy for other Sunshine Coast clubs with the likes of Kawana, Alexandra Headland and Noosa also amongst the winners.

Maroochydore coach Nathan Greig was pleased with the club’s solid start and said the team would look to continue their strong performances across the next two days.

“It’s great for the kids to be racing at Maroochydore. While not massive conditions, we’ve still got holes and rips and there’s a bit of sweep and that’s why the kids do the sport, to challenge themselves in the water,” he said.

“We’ve already had a couple of victories and, from what I’ve seen, the kids have performed really well so we’re certainly on track.

“It’s been a good competition so far and it’s quite evenly spread out this year which I think is great for the sport,” he said.

Northern Clubs fared well with the North Queensland Branch team winning gold in the under-12 male surf board rescue, silver in the under-11 female 1km beach run (Lila Horobin), and a bronze in the under-11 female surf team. The North Barrier Branch team picked up a slew of medals including gold in the under-14 female beach flags (Taya DiBartolo) and a further six silver medals.

Gold Coast clubs also performed strongly with Tallebudgera, Tugun, Kurrawa and North Burleigh amongst the winners.

It was a strong day for Currumbin who claimed gold in the under-11 male Cameron relay, under-12 female sprint (Ellie Beer), under-12 male flags (Sean Rolton), under-12 male beach relay and the under-13 male surf board relay.

Reigning champions Northcliffe picked up silver medals in the under-11 male surf team and the under-13 male Cameron relay and President David Shields said the club would be out to build on its performance across the weekend.

“The teams in particular have done very well today. There have been some tough conditions out there and the weather’s been hot, so the kids have performed really well,” he said.

“The Sunshine Coast clubs have been very strong and the North Queensland clubs are also going well, so it’s pretty even at the moment. We’ve had some mixed success across the day, but overall we’re really happy with how we’re travelling.

“Nothing’s taken for granted. Maroochydore’s a strong club and there are plenty of other great clubs coming through, so we’re not counting any chickens at this stage. We’re just hoping to be in that top three come Sunday afternoon and, if we win it, it will be a bonus,” he said.

Surf Life Saving Queensland sports manager Stuart Hogben said day one of competition had produced some fantastic results.

“Without doubt, this is the pinnacle sporting event for our junior members each year and it’s fantastic to see the passion and enthusiasm of these young lifesavers who have come together from literally all corners of Queensland to compete,” he said.

“They’re the future of surf lifesaving and it was great to see almost 1,500 youngsters out there giving it their best.

“There was a bit of a swell across the day but overall the surf conditions were ideal for junior competition, and hopefully they hold up across the next few days,” he said.

The Championships have kicked off an action-packed fortnight of lifesaving in Queensland with some of the biggest names in surf sports set to line up next weekend at Maroochydore Beach for the open and senior competition.

The action continues tomorrow from 8am at Maroochydore Beach on the Sunshine Coast.

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