City of Perth has claimed fourth spot in the Australian Championship rankings with an awesome performance on the weekend, winning a staggering ten gold medals - the best ever by a West Australian club by a long, long way.
In an era when clubs are spending in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to attract top quality competitors, it is a credit to all our members that we can compete at the highest level on nothing more than pride in our club and a desire to support each other to the top.
We travelled to Queensland with the best team City has ever assembled, with high hopes of making it into the top ten on the pointscore and perhaps winning as many as five or six Australian Titles.
Things got off to a perfect start on Wednesday afternoon, when a new event was introduced to the Championships - a two kilometre beach run. With years of experience in our own grulleing W.R.Somerford Marathon behind her, this should have been a stroll in the park for Alison O'Toole, and so it proved. With the Open Men's and Women's events running simultaneously Alison quickly positioned herself at the leading end of the field and crossed the line third overall to easily win the Women's Gold.
With that as inspiration, our Lifesaver Relay team went into their semi-final full of confidence and cruised into the final with a win.
Meanwhile at Broadbeach Surf Club, just to the north of Kurrawa, Grant Trew's team of Champion Lifesaver competitors were going through their paces. As the sun set, results began to filter back to the rest of the team. Kim Lovett won WA's first ever Champion Lifesaver gold with a win in the Under 17 Women's event. Rebecca Cohen picked up her second Australian silver in the Under 19 Women's, and Tim Trew a bronze in the Open Men's. Ben Carrick finished fourth in the Under 17 Men's and Rupert Baker 6th in the Under 19.
Thursday was the first full day of competition as the carnival swung into gear. It didn't take too long for City to start adding to the medal tally, with the Under 19 Men's Surf Team of Jono Stock, Luke Tidey, James Cohen and Duncan Jacob gaining third place. The Under 15 Men's team of Tom Dowling, Jeremy Stock, Jeremy Doney and Harry Whitehand went one better, winning the silver medal in their event.
The girls, meanwhile, were going through their Ironwoman heats and although she qualified for the semi-final of the Open event things didn't go well for Under 19 favourite Alicia Marriott, who didn't get off the beach after a wave twisted her rudder into reverse. Emma Wynne in the Under 17's, however, cruised into the next round. Emma was then joined by Fiona Doney, Katuschka Taylor-Miller and Under 15 Jess Walker to win City's third Gold of the Championships in the Under 17 Women's Surf Team.
Emma and Fiona then backed up, joining Alex Stock and Alicia Marriott for a bronze in the Under 19 event, with our second team finishing in sixth place.
The day continued with the early rounds of board and ski races, where some got through and some didn't. Late in the afternoon the Under 19 Women's Rescue Tube Rescue team hit the water, with Jae Moffatt swimming the tube out and towing patient Matilda Sydenham back to the beach, where Alex Stock and Fiona Doney completed the event by dragging Matilda to the finish line for a silver medal.
The Champion Patrol team were also busy, missing the silver medal by just one point but having to settle for fourth place.
Friday was very much a day of hard work and preparation, with few finals but lots of heats, quarters and semis. While the water competitors were working their way through a very full program, the beach arena got underway with the qualifying stages of the beach flags. Throught to Saturday's finals for City were Aidi Hinkes in the Under 15 girls, Dean Scarff in the Under 19 Men's and Open Women's veteran Renee McCabe.
The boats also got underway, with Robbie Somerford's girls getting to the fourth round before being eliminated. Even without Robbie's weight in the back, they weren't able to quite get through.
Being Queensland, the weather is always perfect and as the rain came down we had one of the major highlights of the carnival - the final of the Lifesaver Relay. This event combines a surf boat, a ski paddler, a board paddler, a swimmer and a runner, as well as requiring an Under 17, and Under 19 and a female in the team, and is fast gaining the reputation of being the ultimate test of a club's all round strength.
The boats led away, with veteran sweep Geoff Wilson pushing his crew of Todd Bowler, Damon Hansen-Knarhoi, Marc Goodall and Darren Gore around the can. Although they were the leaders coming back to the beach, they found themselves about a quarter of a boat length short of being able to just drop over a small wave coming in over the bank, while three or four of the crews at the other end were able to get the lift and take a lead into the ski leg.
Steve Hopkins was on the ski for City, and followed the leading pack around the cans but was unable to bridge the gap at all, finding a lot of dead water on the way in to the beach where he passed over to Jono Stock on the board. Jono delivered an awesome paddle, but again was just inches short of getting onto the wave which would have given James Cohen some chance of being with the pack in the swim leg.
There was a good thirty or forty metres between the leaders and James as he swam around the cans, and all chance of a medal in this one appeared to be lost. But James wasn't giving it away, and swam his way onto a small but strong wave which swept him past Northcliffe, Mooloolaba and Queenscliff and into the lead with the Tugun swimmer as they came into the beach. It was then just a matter of who would best handle the small gutter into the shorebreak, and it was James who forced a couple of metres lead before tagging Amanda England in the shallows for the final run leg to the line and a Gold medal that nobody who was there will ever forget.
On Saturday the surf picked up, as if in preparation for the approaching finals. It was another busy day for the water arena, with the final stages of qualifying for board race, surf race, board rescue, ironman and ironwoman finals.
City's only medal for the day came early in the morning, when Rosie Langdale (ski), Alicia Marriott (board) and Emma Wynne (swim) combined to win the Under 19 Women's Taplin Relay. In the rising surf the opening ski leg was critical, but Rosie handled it like an old pro, picking her way out to the cans easily and cruising back to the beach on a wave in second place. With talent like Alicia and Emma to follow, the rest was a formality.
Although no other medals came our way for the day, there were a couple very close. Harry Whitehand came in on the lead wave in the Under 15 Men's Board Race final, finishing fourth in the run up the beach. In the Beach Flags arena, Dean Scarff also was fourth in the Under 19 Men's, while Aidi Hinkes and Renee McCabe were seventh and eighth respectively in their finals.
Still riding a high from the previous day's Lifesaver Relay, Geoff Wilson's boat crew got through to the fourth round before a large wave brought them back to reality, filling them in and ending their Open Boat campaign.
Other important results for the day included Emma Wynne and Alicia Marriott through to the final in both the Open and Under 19 Women's Board Rescues. Emma also went through to Sunday's final of the Under 17 Ironwoman, along with Jono Stock and Luke Tidey in the Under 19 Ironman.
Sunday morning dawned with clear skies and a decent swell. In years past, we've been happy to just have people still racing on Sunday, but now we find ourselves on a whole new level of performance and expectation.
The first event in the water for the day was the final of the Under 17 Men's Cameron Relay. After Ben Carrick's opening board leg and Duncan Jacob's run changeover, James Cohen found himself on a wave heading for the beach. This time the entire field of sixteen were all on the way with him, but again it was James who held the wave best and tagged Corey Tidey for the run to the line and City's sixth Gold of the Championships.
Shortly afterwards, Emma Wynne led the Under 17 Women's Surf Race final around the cans and into the break area. In a moment of deja vu from 2004, four or five girls picked up a wave from behind to take Emma's lead away from her, but there was no way Emma was going to let that happen again, and she picked the best line to the beach to run across the line in first place.
It wasn't too long before Emma was back into the water for the Under 17 Ironwoman final. Again she led into the wave area, but it was Sawtell's Courtney Hancock who best handled the surf to win the event, with Emma taking the silver medal.
In the beach arena, Dean Scarff in the Under 19 Men's was the only City competitor to make the final of the sprint, where he finished a tight second, but we had teams in four relay finals.
First to run were the Under 15 Women's team of Rachel Kelly, Courtney Forrest, Meaghan Slattery and Aidi Hinkes. Although apparently still unaware of exactly where their hamstrings are located, the girls flew home to win the Gold.
Bec Banyard, Amanda Buchan, Hannah McKenzie and Jess Richards combined to finish sixth in the Under 17 Women's event. They were followed with another gold medal winning performance by the Under 19 Men's team of Iain Buchan, Craig Simmonds, Dean Scarff and Hayden Trew. Dean, Iain and Hayden then backed up with Shane Buchan for sixth place in the Open Men's event.
Back in the water, Alicia Marriott picked up her first individual Australian medal with a close-fought second place in the Under 19 Women's Surf Race. She followed that up shortly afterwards with another silver in the Under 19 Women's Board.
Alicia and Emma then teamed up for the Open Women's Board Rescue final. Emma reached the cans first in the swim leg, but Alicia didn't have the same fortune on the board, getting severely smashed by the surf and swept away to the north before recovering to pick up Emma and get back to the beach in fifth place.
Although that result was a disappointment, the girls still had the chance to defend their 2004 crown in the Under 19 event. And defend it they did, crossing the line for the gold medal more than five minutes clear of second place.
City's final appearance for the carnival was the Under 19 Ironman final. Unfortunately for Luke Tidey, all he could manage was the honour of being the last City competitor for the weekend to be demolished by the surf in the ski leg. Jono Stock, however, put in an awesome performance, staying in the top few for the entire race and crossing the line in fourth place.
Our most successful Australian Championships ever was capped off with fourth place in the carnival pointscore - an achievement beyond our greatest expectations. And after winning four gold, one silver and one bronze medals, Emma Wynne was named the Female Competitor of the Carnival - the first time such an honour has gone to a West Australian. Emma was also named in the Australian team to contest the International Surf Challenge to be held in the days following the championships.