(From left to right): Ian Hanson, Ky Hurst, Shannon Eckstein, Hayley Bateup and Melissa Howard
Preparations are complete and now it is time to ‘Come Together’ for the DHL 2011 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
After an exciting weekend of Masters competition, competitors in the Open, under-19, under-17 and under-15 age groups are set to hit the waves and the sand for six days of exciting competition.
Events are scheduled to start in all water competition areas today, with the first of the finals set to be held later in the day.
Gold medals are programmed to be decided in the surf teams events for open women, under-19s, under-17s and under-15s, while the opening rounds of many events, including reserve and under-23 men’s boat races, the Open ski race and the under-15 Cameron relay, will be contested.
At a media conference to launch the championships yesterday, Surf Life Saving Australia president Graham Ford wished competitors all the best for the days ahead.
“The theme of the championships this year is ‘Come Together’, bringing surf life savers from around Australia, from all the different clubs, different states, together,” he said.
“Besides the athletes we’ve got a huge contingent of volunteers, all the officials - some 500 - plus all the support staff.
“It’s a huge event and we’re really looking forward to some great competition.
For six-time Australian ironman champion Trevor Hendy, who was the special guest at yesterday’s event launch, the approach of another Aussies is reason for excitement.
“I remember being a kid at Australian championships for the first time and that feeling that everybody who’s involved in surf life saving in Australia and how much they love it,” he said.
“It’s what we’re all about – we’re all about volunteering, we’re all about competition, we’re all about mateship and when all of us turn up in one place at one time it’s an amazing feeling.
“I just had that feeling of goosebumps when I looked out of the tent today onto the beach.
“You can’t explain it when you’ve trained for eight months and you’re a young guy or girl and you’re about to line up again – there’s a feeling of something pretty exciting and pretty amazing.
“It’s great to be here at Kurrawa – it’s an amazing venue.”
Kurrawa’s Ky Hurst, winner of 27 Australian championships gold medals and a veteran of the Aussies at 30 years of age, is still not above getting excited about the biggest event of the surf lifesaving calendar.
“This time of year is always very exciting,” he said at yesterday’s media conference.
“It is a long time since I won an ironman title and it is my main aim at Kurrawa this week.”
Eckstein, Howard, Trevor Hendy, Bateup and Hurst at Kurrawa Beach
Hurst and Eckstein at Kurrawa Beach today