Lorne Surf Life Saving Club hosted the 2020 Victorian Masters Lifesaving Championships in what they described as conditions they only see a few times per year.
Around 400 Masters competitors from around the state gave each event their best shot, some trying multiple times to get out the back of the breaking waves to finish races that saw even the most experienced lifesavers challenged.
Standout athletes included Naantali Marshall from Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club, who won all water events in the female 40-44 age division, including surf, tube, board, ski and iron events.
“I want to say thank you to the incredible water safety volunteers – we were very lucky to have them out with us in the water today,” said Naatali. “I’m also really proud of all the women who raced in such tricky conditions. Some were doing their first-ever state carnivals in their forties and fifties.”
She also won the 30+ age division surf team event with team-mates Fiona Fitzgerald (who hadn’t raced for 22 years), and Julia Cullity, who has been a competitor and team-mate of Naantali’s since the early days of their childhood lifesaving sport carnivals.
Kristina Clappison travelled to Lorne from Venus Bay Surf Life Saving Club, more than 4 hours’ drive away. It was worth the effort as she took home the tube race and came second in the board race in the 30-34 age group.
Lifesaving sport legend Judy Slilom (72), who was officiating at the event, took time out to run in the beach 70+ event, coming in 1st.
In the men’s events, the Goulding’s from Half Moon Bay Life Saving Club dominated with Ken Goulding winning the board event in the 55-59 age group, nephew Russ winning iron in the 30-34 age division and Russ’s dad Cliff winning the 60-64 age division ski, as well as double ski with Anthony Orwin.
Russ Goulding also took home silver in the double ski 30-34 age division event with Bryce Anderson (30), who was competing for the first time.
Brother’s Russel and Cary Fox of Half Moon Bay Life Saving Club won men’s double ski (30-34 age division), with Russel also winning the men’s ski event.
Although the conditions were undeniably challenging, many of the older competitors relished the chance to show their skills and one 74-year-old competitor, Michael Wilson from Portsea Surf Life Saving Club, remembered winning the board event at Lorne in the State Championships back in 1969 – showing how much experience many athletes had in the sport. This year, he took home a silver medal in the 70+ beach sprint.
“Their skills really shone and a great day was had by all, with a real family feel to the event,” says Nick Metcalfe, LSV Aquatic Sport. “Children competed with and against parents, water safety crews had children of competitors out on the water with their parents and there were plenty of kids cheering on their parents from the beach.”
The event was made possible thanks to the volunteers who worked behind the scenes, such as officials and water safety crew, and to support from the Victorian Government’s Together More Active program, which aims to encourage ongoing participation in lifesaving sport for Masters athletes.
Well done to everyone involved.