Swimming costumes and club caps have been packed, the hours of slogging through training sessions in all conditions is done and now the time has come.
The 2018 Envirobank NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships is on this weekend at South West Rocks.
On Saturday this picturesque little town will play host to country surf sport’s biggest event for the third straight summer, and with the event moving to a new home from 2019, organisers are aiming for a stunning swansong.
Forty clubs will be represented at this year’s event with some 1500 athletes expected to take to the start line.
Defending champions Cudgen Headland SLSC who so spectacularly ended branch rivals Byron Bay’s seemingly endless winning streak in 2017 will be out to do it all again with a strong squad at their disposal.
The hosts, South West Rocks, have approximately 50 competitors with Cleo Schubert and Aneeka Reily earmarked as ones to watch.
South West Rocks and Port Macquarie (with just over 100 competitors taking part) will be battling for honours, while competitors from areas as far away as Tathra will be taking part.
Additionally 150 officials have volunteered their time to assist in the smooth running of the carnival.
South West Rocks President said preparations are tracking well and the club is looking forward to welcoming their visitors from across the state.
"We are really fortunate to have a great bunch of committed volunteers who are vital to making an event of this size happen.
“It's a lot of work but we're almost there and very much looking forward to welcoming everyone to our little patch of paradise,” said Rod McDonagh.
One of the attractions of the Country Championships is that it allows competitors at all levels to have a race and it this spirit of mateship that endures long after the final race has been completed.
Older competitors keep coming back to race at a Masters level renewing rivalries that in some cases stretch back decades, while at the other end of the field wide-eyed youngsters strive to carve their own name in the history books as medallists.
For most of the competitors it’s a final chance to have a competitive hit out before next month’s State Championship with some likely to also feature in the Aussies.
In a boost to the field some of the state’s best athletes will be in action.
Lily O’Sullivan (Cudgen Headland), Lucas Ottaway (Bulli SLSC),Ty-Jesse Brabant (Port Macquarie SLSC), and Lennox Head-Alstonville duo Maisie Miller and Nathan Mackenzie were part of the all-conquering NSW team that recently won the inaugural Youth Pathways Cup.
Experienced competitors such as Steine Lofts (Mollymook), Jordan White, Madeleine Baker, Brooke Cavanagh, Jayden Allen (all from Warilla – Barrack Point SLSC), and Cudgen contingent Luke Chaffer, Claudia Crawford, Angus Macphail and Hayley Smith among others who were all members of the first ever NSW Country team to compete in the Interstate Championship when they travelled to South Australia in January are all likely to feature.
NSW Surf Sports Manager Rob Pidgeon is confident of a successful competition.
“I would like to wish all athletes, officials, and supporters travelling to South West Rocks this weekend the very best of luck.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed for some good weather but if that doesn’t eventuate we’re still confident that this will be a wonderful competition that reflects the very best of country surf life saving,” Mr Pidgeon said.