Surf Sports: Beach Events
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Beach Competition at Freshwater SLSC
Beach competition involves three basic events; Beach Sprint & Relay (70-90m), Beach Flags (15-20m) and Beach Run (1-2km). With the exception of the 2km & 1km runs, all three events are conducted by way of knock out rounds, semi finals and ultimately a final.
Beach Sprint and Beach Relay
The beach sprint and beach relay events are straightforward races over the relevant distance. Up to 10 competitors per race can start with the winner being the first person whose chest crosses the line. In the beach relay, team members are expected to exchange a baton (usually a small length of garden hose) at the end of each leg.
Races cover a distance of 70m for U8 to U14 & Masters competition (30yrs +) or 90m for U15 to Opens.
The beach flags event requires competitors to lay on their stomachs facing away from a series of “flags” (short pieces of garden hose) placed in the sand. On the sound of a whistle competitors stand up, turn and race to collect one of the flags. The number of flags available will generally be one less than the number of competitors involved though in some instances, if there a large number of participants, more than one person may be eliminated at a time.
Races cover a distance of approximately 15m for U8 to U14 & Masters competition and 20m for U15 to Opens.
2km & 1km Beach Runs
These long distance events are soft sand races which are determined on first past the post basis. Race distances are 2km (U15 to Opens & Masters) & 1km (Masters 64 +).
History of Beach Events
The beach sprint and beach relay events have been conducted at surf carnivals since the earliest days with both events making their debuts at the Australian titles in the 1919-20 season. Apart from the introduction of electronic timing in recent times, little has changed over the years with the successful competitors still being those who can run fastest over the soft sand.
Beach flags were introduced to the Australian titles after the 2nd World War and now feature as one of the most high profile events at the championships. Apart from a change of title from “musical flags” to beach flags, little has changed in the event since their introduction.
The 2km & 1km beach runs are only recent additions to the beach program, having been introduced in the mid 2000’s.
Beach Events at Freshwater
The club enjoyed beach sprint success from the earliest days, winning the Australian Beach Relay championship in 1922-23 and then again in 1925-26. The 1926-27 season saw Jack Hegney win the first of his two successive Australian championship titles to go with his two silver medals from the 1922-23 and 1925-26 seasons.
After the 1920s, success in the beach sprint and beach relay events remained elusive until the 1980s. Between 1981 and 2005 a succession of champion sprinters including Michael Gedz, Clayton Kearney, Gary Theodore, Michelle Garnett, Emma Lincoln-Smith & Sam Kiely won a multitude of Branch, State and Australian championships representing the club.
The club’s first beach flags champion was Robert Pickard who won numerous Branch & State medals and was a two times (1971-72 & 1972-73) Australian Champion and runner-up in 1973-74. Sam Kiely was another Australian beach flags champion in the early 2000’s but the club’s most successful flag competitor has been Michelle Garnett who won 5 Australian Championships in the U16 & U18 divisions from 1995-96 to 1998-99.
The 2km beach run is a relatively new event but the club has still managed to produce Australian champions with Christian Bate successful in the U15 event in 2005-06 and Peter Jacobs winning the Open event in 2006/07.
In the junior activities section, the club has produced many Branch & State champions over the years across the full spectrum of age divisions and events.
The club continues to perform strongly in beach events. While the number of beach competitors in the senior section remains small it has still achieved some outstanding results. In the 2016-17 season Will de Vries came 2nd in the Australian U17 Beach Sprint, 4th at the NSW Titles and a member of the club’s U19 beach relay team which came 5th at the State and made the Australian final. Josh Tyrrell came 2nd in the NSW U17 beach sprint and was also a member of the U19 relay team which came 5th and also made the final at the Australian championships. Ethan Cradock was also a member of the same U19 beach relay team and was branch champion in the U19 beach sprint and came 3rd in the flags.
In the juniors, Sophie Bishop and Jordi Nora came 1st and 3rd respectively in the 2015/16 NSW U9 flags event. In 2016/17 Stefanie Fejes, M8ila McGettigan, Tasma Patterson & Holly Wickham won the NSW U12 Beach relay.
Josh Tyrrell & Stefanie Fejes were also members of the Sydney Northern Beaches Inter-branch team in 2016/17.
Fitness, training and competition
To undertake any of the beach events, you need to be at least moderately fit. The beach sprint requires an ability to undertake a number of sprints over a relatively short period of time while good reflexes are also be a useful attribute for the beach flags event. For the 2km & 1km beach runs, stamina is an essential.
The club currently conducts specialised beach sprint sessions for members once a week though this is likely to increase as the season progresses. During the winter months this session is held at the Narrabeen Sports Academy. As the season warms up, the sessions increase and also occur at the beach. The sessions generally last for about an hour and are focused on the beach sprint, beach relay and beach flags events and on improving the techniques required for each.
The club competes at a number of local carnivals throughout the season in both junior and senior competition. The junior carnivals (3) are held on a Sunday and beach events generally commence at about 9am though it may vary from carnival to carnival.
The senior carnivals (U15 – Opens) are held on a Saturday with beach events generally commencing mid morning and concluding early afternoon. Again this may vary from carnival to carnival. The same applies to Masters events (30+). Masters carnivals are generally held separately to senior carnivals and timing can vary depending on the arrangements made by the host club.
The beach sprint, relay and flag events are conducted at all surf carnivals. The 2km & 1km beach runs are generally only held at championship carnivals.
If I do beach events can I compete in other events as well?
At local junior carnivals it is generally difficult to compete in both land and water based events though it may be possible in some circumstances. In the U8 age group (the first age at which children can compete), the program is conducted in a way to allow full participation in both land and water based events.
Similar difficulties occur at senior carnivals though not necessarily to the same degree. Masters carnivals offer a bit more flexibility again than senior carnivals.
At championship carnivals, the capacity to do both land and water based events at all carnivals can be limited depending on the timetable.
If you are interested in competing in any beach events or would like further information about competition and training, you should contact Paula Cradock on 0419 621 993.
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