Image credited to Ian Roman

The 2019 National Surf Life Saving Championships closed in brilliant sunshine with the largest ever UK Nipper competition. It was an amazing week of over 1300 competitors, competing in high speed adrenaline fuelled racing, all based upon surf life saving skills. The Championships are the culmination of a year of training for the 37 competing Surf Life Saving Clubs from all around the UK, aged 8-80. It brings together vital water safety skills, knowledge, fitness, stamina and learning the skills and techniques required to be life guards to support local communities and ultimately save lives. Coaches are trained volunteers who dedicate their time promoting water safety in their area.

MASTERS aged 30+ ( Sat 17/Sun 18 )       

The week started with 2 days of Masters events, with competitors fighting it to the finish line in gnarly sea conditions more familiar to Cornish and Devon coasts. Every club member competing stood of chance of earning points which contributed to the final standings making every member of the team vital. After some incredible racing, displays of unbelievable fitness, determination and agility it was the hosts Branksome Chine Surf Life Saving Club taking top spot for the first time ever!! Steve Wisdom, Branksome Chine Surf Life Saving Club Masters coach commented “across all clubs in the SLSGB community, for many of us Masters this is the biggest weekend in our lifesaving year and it was a privilege to welcome 250 fellow Masters from across the UK compete at our home beach. The wind and a couple of foot of surf created some exciting racing conditions for both competitors and spectators. I was so proud and the team was ecstatic when Branksome Chine was announced as the top placing team, a fantastic reward for all the training and time we all invested”

IRB – aged 16+ inshore rescue boat racing ( Mon 19 )

Monday 19th August and the sea state lent itself to some gravity defying racing in the Inshore Rescue Boats
racing with boats bouncing off waves clean into the air. Fast and furious, this disciple requires ultimate team work, quick thinking and measured responses as ever second counts when lives are at stake. Races are all based upon rescue scenarios. The Branksome Chine team was very much in the mix after the races but it was the turn of Newquay to take top spot. Anita Kovacs commented “IRB racing requires a high level of strength, fitness and specific skills, just like any professional sport. Our team did not get a medal this year, but if we managed to inspire our club members or those watching the event, to join a life saving club and learn about IRBs, my goal has been accomplished. We’ll be back with a bigger team next year, so watch out for Branksome Chine.”

YOUTH aged 13-19 (Tues 20 / Weds 21)

Youth competitors aged 13-19 were next to take centre stage. Some astounding physicality being shown by our future beach lifeguards. The home team Branksome Chine fought for every point and ended finishing in the highest spot to date in second place amongst an extremely competitive field with Cornish Club Gyllyngvase taking top spot. Ian Robinson Branksome Chine Surf Life Saving Club Youth coach said “I am extremely proud of the team. Youth competition in GB is strong and medals are hard to come by, as they should be. The squad put everything into their racing and it was demonstrated in the phenomenal racing that was seen. Spectators were screaming their lungs out and are all now super fans. Everyone was amazing and should be so proud. 2020 will be tough as we know all clubs will train to come back stronger !! Bring on the 2020 Surf Life Saving National Championships.”

Surf Life Saving prides itself on being a lifesaving sport and above all promotes agility, fitness and good sportsmanship. To further instil the importance of sportsmanship, so vital in our young people today, locally based company Animal were delighted to present the first ever youth Surf Life Saving GB Animal Sportsmanship Trophy to Woolacombe SLSC – Joshua Gammon. He sacrificed vital points for his club, after winning the Surf Race he handed back his tag admitting he went the wrong way and missed a can.

NIPPERS aged 7-13 (Fri 23 / Sat 24)

The final days of competition were for the Nippers, the largest of all the categories with over 600 competitors aged 8 to 13  making it the biggest ever Nipper Surf Life Saving event held in the UK to date  – Dave Trehane Branksome Chine Surf Life Saving Nipper Manager said “Training our children to be safe, fit and confident in the water is essential. Watching nearly 650 young surf life savers show off their skills this weekend has been a joy to watch. As host club, Branksome Chine’s 68 strong team of 8-13 year olds were immensely proud to be in the top 10 best surf life saving Clubs in the UK for their age”

Jonathan Kane (JK) Nipper coach commented “ The experience of being a Nipper equips children with life skills in being able to manage and overcome physical, mental and emotional barriers. This is one of the most valuable lessons children can learn. Children from as young as eight competing at a national level in such a competition is a sight to be hold.  The Branksome Chine Nippers performed brilliantly and achieved our highest ever placement yet [6th], each and every child achieving things they never believed they were capable of when they started at the beginning of the year, building personal self-esteem and self-confidence which given the society we live in has never been more important.”

Congratulations go to Woolacombe Surf Life Saving Club who took the number one Nipper team spot, a tremendous achievement with Holywell Bay in second and St Ives coming third.

A first for the Championships this year was the Rockley Watersports Club Sportsmanship Trophy – all club competitors and their supporters were applauded for any acts promoting positive sportsmanship which concluded with Holywell Bay taking the trophy back to their club. Pip Wood CEO at Rockley Watersports commented “Rockley Watersports is so proud to be involved in such a wonderful event. To be handing out the Sportsmanship award means a lot to us as it really represents what Rockley Watersports is all about. Seeing young people taking part, on the water, embracing fit, healthy and active lifestyles – its been incredible to watch over this past week.”

Jonathan Kane (JK) Event Manager concluded: “The event went better than we could have ever expected. In organising the focus was first and foremost on the competitor and their event experience, followed by raising the profile of Surf Life Saving Great Britain and our club Branksome Chine Surf Life Saving Club. We also focussed on ensuring a benefit for our local community and the environment. Having run the event for the eight days the amount of public support, media attention and repeated positive feedback from all the attendees is more than we could have imagined.  Raising the profile of keeping people safe in the water and saving lives is one of the most meaningful things we can do, we are so proud of the event and everybody who was involved. We truly look  forward to doing it all again on our fabulous Dorset beach next year.”

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