Northcliffe’s Stuart Snell has capped off a dream weekend at the DHL 2011 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, winning his third consecutive Champion Lifesaver title at Kurrawa yesterday.
On Saturday, Snell was a member of the gold medal winning Northcliffe team that took out its tenth Australian Patrol Championship.
But their was no rest for Snell and team mates Kathryn McKenzie, Trent Rowe, Nic Pluimers and Jake Nicholson who all backed up for a slice of the individual pie.
And they weren’t disappointed with McKenzie giving Northcliffe a winning double, taking out the open female division; Rowe winning the 30-35 Masters gold medal, while Pluimers was fourth to Snell in the open competition and SA recruit Nicholson fourth to team mate Riley McGregor in the under 19s.
Welsh-born Snell, a school teacher at Surfers Paradise Primary, is a member of the Great Britain surf team and is one of Australia’s most established Ironmen, finishing 11th in last year’s Coolangatta Gold.
But Sunday was all about putting together a winning score in one of the longest events on the program that required competitors from under 15s, under 17s, under 19s and Opens to contest the beach sprint, rescue tube, surf race and board races before their 40 question lifesaving theory paper and resuscitation – with the competition going for most of the day.
Snell, who has overcome a nagging bursa in his shoulder that has required cortisone injections, was the dominant performer in the water winning the rescue tube with fins; the surf race and the board race and headed to Broadbeach for the theory where he scored 37 out of 40 questions in the theory and 39.50 points out of 40 in his resuscitation.
But Alexandra Headlands Michael White, the 2007 and 2008 winner, has been challenging Snell over the past three years and that rivalry continued in 2011, with Snell winning the gold on 108.5 points ahead of White (106.25) and Sean McKenzie (Semaphore) third on 99.25.
“I had been out of the water for a couple of weeks in the lead up to the State and Aussies and had to have injections to help me through but the thought of winning three straight kept me going,” said Snell.
“To win a third Australian Championship has been my goal all season and I couldn’t be happier, but I knew from the start I would have to be on my toes.
“It caps off a great weekend personally and for the Lifesaving team at Northcliffe – and gives the club a great start to what I am sure will be an exciting week in the open competition.”
Snell’s girlfriend Liz Pluimers, who will play an intricate part in Northcliffe’s women’s teams this week, was on hand to congratulate her bow and knows the pressure is now on in the gold medal chase.
“Stu has been nervous all week and he never stops talking when he gets nervous so now it’s over and he has those two gold medals, he might go back to being his quiet old self again,” Pluimers said with a proud grin.
In a huge day for Northcliffe, McKenzie became the first Northcliffe woman since Hayley Cahill in 2002 to win the female Champion Lifesaver.
The final points saw McKenzie dominate the swim, board and rescue tube to run out an easy winner on 108 points from defending and three-time champion Manly’s Melinda Pelly (99.5) and Katelyn White (Alexandra Headland) 85 points.
The Gold Medal Champion Lifesavers 2011 were:
Open Male – Stuart Snell (Northcliffe)
Open Female – Kathryn McKenzie (Northcliffe)
Under 19 Male - Riley McGregor (Northcliffe)
Under 19 Female – Brigette Seymour (Alexandra Headland)
Under 17 Male - Nicholas Stevens (Dicky Beach)
Under 17 Female – Sonita Leng-Cole (Alexandra Headland)
Under 15 Female – Charlotte Webber (Noosa Heads)
Under 15 Male – Peter Tillead (Sunshine Beach)
30-39 Masters Male – Trent Rowe (Northcliffe)
30-39 Masters Female – Julia Cullity (Anglesea)
40 years plus Male – Scott Unicomb (Northcliffe)
40 years plus Female – Teresa Hutton (Dicky Beach)