Scarborough’s soft sand is tough to get through even for the most light-footed of runners, so a stride-for-stride race down the beach for burly ski paddlers Nick Dawe and Todd Brewer was almost a cruel way to end the open men’s surf ski final.
But it made for a thrilling finish as the Dawe edged Manly to victory over Brewer’s Trigg Island.
Brewer’s team had led for much of the race, paddling powerfully and getting the best of the thumping shore break that made today’s racing challenge for all competitors.
Following on the good work of team-mates Dan Humble and Reece Baker, Brewer set out on the third leg of the race with a 10-metre lead over Dawe after Ironman Kendrick Louis had brought the Manly from eighth to second in a powerhouse paddle.
As the shore break played havoc with the final paddlers, Dawe made it through and set off after Brewer, a paddler he knows well since they competed together in a K2 kayak.
“Their boys led from the start so I knew he was going to be a bit tight,” the Manly man mountain said.
“I busted my poofer valve to catch him as quick as I could, sat on him a bit, then made a bit of an attack. It almost didn’t come off because I didn’t get a wave.”
Dawe took a good lead on the way back to the beach but Brewer used a runner to catch up again as they jumped off their skis for the run to the finish.
It was a grinding sprint, with Dawe initially in front and then Brewer just passing his rival close to the line before a desperate lunge gave Manly the win by the slimmest of margins.
“I felt like I was in slow motion,” Dawe said.
“It was like I was running in cement and I felt him come and come. I backed my speed but he just had the ticker and it just came down to the lunge.
“I thought he got in front of me, then I came back. It was just a classic race, a real race.”
Newport made it a Sydney Northern Beaches double in the open ski relays, winning a gruelling race ahead of Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park and Northcliffe as the shore break pounded the teams.
Newport’s first paddler, Hannah Minogue, put the team at the head of the field along with Alexandra Headland and Kurrawa, with the three paddlers riding a big wave to the beach.
Second paddler Grace Gurr kept Newport close to the lead and then Georgia Miller had to survive the shore dump to move in front and open a winning advantage, even as Burleigh’s Allie Britton closed the gap approaching the beach.
North Bondi’s under-19 team of Jackson Collins, Noah Havard and Ben Walker raced to a massive win after Collins powered to a big lead in the first leg and then Havard and Walker widened the gap. Manly placed second with Avoca third.
Northcliffe had a golden double in the craft relays, with Shannon and Caine Eckstein combining with Cory Taylor to take a comfortable win in the open board relay, ahead of Surfers Paradise and Newport, while Hannah Sculley, Mackenzie Duffy and Samalulu Clifton beat Alexandra Headland and Newport to win the women’s under-19 ski relay.
The local crowd went wild at the result of the men’s under-19 board relay as City of Perth paddled to a big win with Riley Walker, under-17 competitor Matt Colliss and Tom Gallagher doing everything right to beat out Alexandra Headland and North Cronulla.
There was more joy for the Newport girls in the open board relay and another gold for Georgia Miller who led off the team, tagging Lara Moses with Maddy Spencer bringing the team home ahead of Northcliffe and Manly.
In the Under 19s women’s board relay it was Kurrawa trio Brielle Cooper, her little sister Lani and Bay Wilden-Snedden and the men’s under 19 ski relay saw North Bondi take the gold from Manly and Avoca.
Earrlier in the dayWanda’s Ali Najem continued his successes in the 2km beach run, winning his third Aussie crown, taking the gold from near neighbour Joan Anderson from Elouera with Nicholas Thompson (Cottesloe) taking the bronze.
Thompson also won the silver in the under 19s, beaten by Hamish Miller (Mermaid Beach) with Lachlan Crawford (Wanda) third.
The open female beach run went to Northcliffe’s Ella Coates from Swanbourne Nedlands pair Bernadette Williams and Maia Simmonds.
Scarboro’s Hannah Jones continued her love affair with the 2km run, winning her third Aussie gold in the under 17s from Christine Murray (Albany) and Zoe Welborn (North Bondi)
The under 19s female 2km run went to Sophie Hogan from North Cottesloe and the under 17 male to North Bondi’s Charlie Verco.