21 April 2023

South Coast coup: Warilla-Barrack Point surf club to host country champs for next two years

| Katrina Condie
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Life savers on beach

The NSW Surf Life Saving Country Championships is coming to Warilla-Barrack Point. Photo: SLSNSW.

The Warilla-Barrack Point Surf Life Saving Club will welcome competitors from across the state when the NSW Country Championships returns to the South Coast for the next two years.

After nearly a decade bouncing between beaches on the NSW North Coast, the Oakberry Acai NSW Surf Life Saving Country Championships will move to the home of the defending champions in 2024 and 2025.

For the first time since 2015, when Mollymook SLSC wrapped up a hosting period of two years with a fourth-place overall point score finish on home turf, the region will welcome some of the state’s most talented and exciting surf sports athletes for three days of elite competition.

The premier event for regional surf life saving clubs is second only to the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships in size with 1500 competitors, 200 officials and around 4000 spectators expected over the course of the event.

Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC president Alan Beveridge said members couldn’t wait to welcome clubs from across the state.

“Our club is extremely proud to be able to host the Country Championships for the next two seasons. The competition will be exciting, fair and, most of all, enjoyable,” he said.

“It will also be an opportunity to catch up with friends we have been competing against over the years.”

Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Surf Sports, Don van Keimpema said the beach, as well as the location itself, lent itself perfectly to the event.

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“From the shallow inlet at Barrack Point, near the entrance to Elliot Lake, up to the northern headland by the mouth of Lake Illawarra, Warilla Beach is a huge stretch of sand that we can’t wait to bring surf sports to over the coming two years,” he said.

“Warilla itself is only about 20 minutes from Wollongong and 15 minutes from Kiama which will provide our competitors two major hubs to the north and south to base themselves from with plenty of accommodation options.

“Cape Hawke has been an excellent host over the past two years and really put on a show for our travelling clubs. It’s going to be exciting to see what Warilla-Barrack Point serves up, particularly after they broke Cudgen’s six-year hold on the overall point score title in 2023.”

Runners on beach

Some of the state’s top athletes will descend on the Illawarra for the NSW Surf Life Saving Country Championships. Photo: Ken Banks.

Warilla-Barrack Point will have a target on its back when clubs from outside the Hunter to Illawarra corridor descend on their patch, after a multi-year project to formulate an assault on Cudgen’s recent Country Championships dominance ended in success earlier this year.

They’ll just need to hope the return to the South Coast doesn’t bring with it the luck that followed them eight years ago when Warilla finished second in each of the two years Mollymook hosted the event, trailing Byron Bay SLSC but sitting ahead of rivals, Cudgen on both occasions.

Some of the same names who had great success all those years ago will suit up once again. Jordan White picked up a first and a second in the Open Female Iron in Mollymook, while Bailey Krstevski, then in a Shellharbour cap, picked up a win in the U11 Male Iron in 2015.

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Both competitors will hit the beach next year as favourites in their respective events, with Jordan defending another win in the Open Female category while Bailey was victorious this time in the U19 Male Iron in Cape Hawke.

Oakberry Acai Australia CEO, Renan Pinto says Surf Life Saving “makes our beaches safer and more enjoyable for the whole community”, and “the dedication of the good people who join the surf clubs and volunteer their time is something that deserves as much support as possible”.

“We are indeed fortunate in Australia to have such beautiful beaches and oceans, and by supporting the work of the surf life savers, the surf clubs and Surf Life Saving NSW, we are helping to ensure that our beaches and our oceans are places for everyone to enjoy.”

The 2024 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships will run from 26 – 28 January 2024.

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