There were thrills, spills, and plenty of action in between as some of the state’s most experienced competitors dived into day one of the 2019 Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast.
More than 500 lifesavers from across Queensland lined up in the masters competition, with athletes aged from over 30 through to 80+ years putting their skills to the test across a range of events.
North Burleigh’s Neville De Mestre continued to prove that age is no barrier, successfully defending his title in the 70+ ironman final ahead of Noosa’s Ross Fisher, before claiming a second gold in the surf race.
Kurrawa’s Cathryn Rayward showed her class, winning six gold medals across the day, including wins in the 40-44 years ironwoman, rescue tube, surf race, and surf swim.
Meanwhile, Northcliffe’s Lee Vroylks put on a masterclass, winning eight golds across the day.
North Burleigh currently lead the masters competition on 294 points, with surf boats and beach sprints still to come on day two. However Northcliffe are snapping at their heals, sitting in second place on 281 points, with Noosa Heads rounding out the top three at present.
In addition to the masters competition, there were also a number of open events held across the day.
Alexandra Headland youngsters Tayla Halliday and Emma Woods caused a boilover, taking out the Open Female Board Rescue Final ahead of a star-studded field.
The 16-year-olds had only competed together in one board race before, but stepped up to opens and took the win ahead of Kurrawa’s Brielle Cooper and Bay Wilden-Snedden, and Northcliffe’s all-star pair of Georgia Miller and Maddy Dunn who recently finished one-two in the Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series.
Jett Kenny and Cooper Williams made it double gold for Alexandra Headland in the Open Male Board Rescue Final.
Reigning Coolangatta Gold and Nutri-Grain Series champion Georgia Miller took out the Open Female Surf Belt, while brothers Tom and Sam Norton delivered more gold for Northcliffe in the Open Male Double Ski.
Lani Pallister teamed up with Emma Woods to win the Under-17 Board Rescue and it kicked off a big weekend for the rising star.
“It’s a busy weekend, I think I have 15 or 16 events, not including heats, semis and all the rest of it, which is a little daunting but it’s exciting and States is always a good carnival so I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
Tomorrow’s action will see some of the sport’s biggest names including the likes of Ali Day, Shannon Eckstein, Matt Poole, Matt Bevilacqua, Courtney Hancock, Georgia Miller, Lana Rogers, Brielle Cooper, and Maddy Dunn hit the surf and sand as they try to qualify for Sunday’s iron finals.
Kurrawa’s 2017 Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series Champion Brielle Cooper said she’d love to take out her first Queensland title, but expects tough competition across the weekend.
“I’d definitely love to win the iron or finish on the podium,” Cooper said.
“But Georgia (Miller) and Maddy (Dunn) are looking like the ones to beat – they’ve just gone one-two in the series and Courtney Hancock’s pretty keen on going back-to-back as well, so I’m sure there’s going to be a bit of a fight.
“You’ve just got to try to survive the heats, try to play it smart, and then give it all in those finals,” she said.
Northcliffe currently leads the way in the open point score on 146 points. In second place is Alexandra Headland on 83 points, with Maroochydore currently rounding out the podium on 59 points.