Open competitor Tanna Haward-Gill in the board race start
Open competitor Tanna Haward-Gill in the board race start

PHOTOS: New heights for Tannum Sands Surf Life Saving Club

By Rebecca Devine and Nick Kossatch

SURF LIFE SAVING: Tannum Sands Surf Lifesaving Club has shone brightly at the North Australian Surf Lifesaving Championship, (North Aussies), in Mackay on the weekend, with one of its most successful campaigns in recent years.

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Tannum Sands may have once again come second to Cairns who stood out in the Overall Points score, but they brought home the Juniors trophy (11-14's), Seniors trophy (15's-Open), Handicap trophy and second place in the Pool Rescue competition.

Among the medal haul at the pool was a first-ever medal for Under-11 Nate Betzien with his team mates in the medley relay.

"I have never got a medal or ribbon at nippers since I have been doing it, so this is pretty special," Nate said.

More than 300 lifesavers from 24 clubs took part in the prestigious event, one of the biggest surf sport carnivals to take place in Queensland.

TSSLSC coach John Andrews said he was proud of his club's performance.

"This is the first big carnival for most of us this season and it sets the tone for what's to come and it's looking good," Andrews said.

"Cairns is always strong as they are at their peak coming into the end of their season, while we are just starting ours.

"It was hot on the beach with choppy conditions in the harbour on Saturday but flat on Sunday, making them work hard all the way and providing some close finishes in a lot of events."

Saturday's line-up was all the team events including surf (swim) teams, board relay, Cameron/Taplin relay, sprint relay and board rescue as well as individual heats and semi-finals and beach flags.

Two-time silver medallist at States, U13s Oscar Wemmerslager was unlucky not to claim a gold, being beaten by Josh Horton from Harvey Bay.

Sunday began with the 1-2km beach run followed by the All Age Relay with Tannum A and B teams taking out the gold and silver for a second consecutive year after some clean racing and no dropped batons.

Finals for the individual events rounded out the rest of the Sunday program.

The U13 boys' swim final was a thriller with four of the top pack of five from Tannum.

Coming down to the dump on the shore break and the sprint up the beach, Tannum's Kai Devine collected the gold closely followed by Kobi Holden from Elliott Heads then Oscar Wemmerslager, Jack Lynch and Sam Churchward rounding out the pack.

"These boys are really strong and there's nothing much between them," Andrews said.

"It all comes down to fitness in these conditions and who can pick up and take advantage of any little runners out there.

"Everyone who has come up here this year has done really well.

"For the U11s, this was their first time and they have done themselves and Tannum proud."

Age Champions included Oscar Wemmerslager (U13), Brooke Copsey (U13), Kane Martin (U14) and Rhiannon Copsey (U15).

For the U13s to U17s, there was additional pressure to perform consistently in their bid to be selected for the Queensland Country Team to compete at the State Inter-branch Carnival on the Gold Coast in late November.

Andrews said to be selected for Queensland Country is like being selected for the Queensland State of Origin team in rugby league.

Tannum claimed 16 of the 48 positions with another three making the reserves list and will be accompanied by Andrews who was selected to be the head coach of the Country team as well as Gary Churchward as the gear steward.

Tannum's next hit-out will be round one of the WBC Premiership Series at Agnes Water on November 16 for the seniors, followed by the 3-Point Carnival at Tannum on November 17.