November 21 - 27, 2021: Issue 519


22nd Annual Newport Surf Boat Carnival - November 20, 2021

                                                                                                                                 Newport Reserves (Catfish) and Thunder(at Left). Sweep: Michael King

In 1999/2000 Bilgola surf club and Newport surf club commenced their surf boats only carnivals.

Newport has a long history of hosting surf life saving carnivals. When the Surf Life Saving Manly-Warringah Branch was formed, the first Branch Carnival was held on Newport Beach in 1959. This had been preceded by the club and beach hosting the Aussies in 1953 and was followed by the States in 1967.

circa 1984 - photo courtesy Michael King, with Eloura boat the Charlotte Breen at front

November 20, 2021, Eloura boat the Charlotte Breen with a Freshwater Sweep

Long before these the club had keen patrons to support the volunteers passion for surfboats:



Although the various events at the sixth annual carnival of the Newport Surf Life having Club on Saturday were keenly contested, the holiday spirit was pre sent to a more marked degree than at the carnivals held nearer the city. There was a large crowd on the beach, and the surf was sufficiently lively to call for strong swimming and for careful handling of the surf boats. Representatives of 10 clubs took part, and seven clubs participated in the parade and march past the event going to North Steyne, which club is having a remarkable season

The principal event was the senior surf boat race for the Harrington Cup, presented by Mr John Harrington, a vice president of the Newport Club. A condition governing the competition for the cup is that the event must take place on Newport Beach. The cup is to remain the property of the club winning it twice in succession, or three times in all. Last year the Newport Club won the cup, but on Saturday North Steyne wrested the trophy from the local club. The race for the cup was rowed in two heats, in the first of which Newport and North Steyne A teams qualified for the final. In the second heat Deewhy and North Steyne B teams secured first and second places respectively. North Steyne Club having only one boat at Newport, that club's B team did not compete in the final, which was a tussle between Newport, North Steyne A, and Deewhy. The final was a most thrilling race, and has not been equalled on any beach round Sydney for many a day. Newport and North Steyne got away first, and the former led to the buoy, and rounded it half a length ahead of North Steyne. A few yards after turning the two boats became level, and maintained that position until nearing the beach. Then both boats caught the same wave, and although for a moment Newport's boat was a little in the lead North Steyne shot ahead on the wave, and reached the beach a boat's length in front of the local boat. ....SURF LIFE-SAVING. (1927, January 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from 

On Saturday November 20th Newport hosted their 22nd surfboat carnival as part of the current day Surf Life Saving Sydney Northern Beaches boats premiership for this season. As so many of these carnivals were cancelled under Covid-safety precautions last season, the welcome return to the water and training was taken up en masse with local branch rowers and some crews from Coogee and Eloura making the trip north to enjoy the morning's full tide and test themselves out. 

The 2022 Australian Surf Rowers League (ASRL) Open will be held at Cronulla’s Elouera beach from 17 – 20 February 2022, with over 350 surf boat crews from almost 100 clubs expected to attend. This equates to thousands of surf life savers from across Australia who will head to Elouera for four days of exhilarating surf boat racing. This is the biggest stand-alone surf boat racing event in Australia with divisions of surf boat racing being contested including Open Male, Open Female, Reserve Male, Reserve Female, Under 23 Male, Under 23 Female, Under 19 Male, Under 19 Female and Masters. The event also features finals on all four days of racing including Masters finals on Thursday, the Interstate Championships on Friday, Reserve finals on Saturday and the remaining finals to be held during the action packed Sunday afternoon.

This Season the Australian Surf Rowers League will celebrate Australia’s indigenous heritage and culture. Artist Rheanna Lotter, a proud Yuin woman from the NSW South Coast, who grew up in the Southern Highlands worked in collaboration with ASRL to design a piece of symbolic art that would tell the story of Surf Boat Rowing, Surf Life Saving and the surf boat members connection to each other and the ocean.

The Australian Surf Rowers League Indigenous Design features on the new singlets. ASRL has provided the detailed meaning of this beautiful design:

The story begins in the centre of the artwork with the meeting place, which represents the surf boats sport and the surf boat carnivals we meet at. This is followed by the symbols of five men and five women, showing the gender equity we have achieved within our sport. Surrounding the members are five rings that are symbolic of the ASRL core values of respect, integrity, courage, solidarity, and determination. This is all held together by the half circles on the outer edge, which are representative of our Athletes, Officials, Volunteers and Supporters. If we break our values, we break the meeting place, if we do not have the Athletes, Officials, Volunteers and Supporters our sport and meeting place will break apart.

The footprints coming in towards the meeting place is symbolic of our current and emerging members, making the journey to our surfboat rowing events. The outgoing feet recognise our members who have passed on from our great sport and are no longer with us. Our feet are connected to the ocean and sand.

Surrounding the central artwork is a man and woman, these are the athletes who together with the boomerangs show our fighting spirit, hunger for success and resilience. Lastly, the turtles are symbolic of our connection and deep respect for the ocean.

All surf lifesavers and officials that participate in the sport of surf boat rowing will this season be taken on a journey of education and awareness of our indigenous heritage and culture.

More than two and a half thousand competitors and 200 Officials will wear this design across the nation from October through to April. In February 2022 we will come together for our main event the “ASRL Open” at the meeting place of Elouera Beach which also means “Beautiful Place” in the aboriginal language.

In July of this year Avalon Beach SLSC member Nick Sampson won the election for the role of President of the Australian Surf Rowers League. Nick has served as ASRL Vice-President for 4 years prior to this and on the National Surf Boat Advisory Panel member - 3 years to current and the ASRL Open Event Committee - 3 years to current. He also is Chair of the Sydney Northern Beaches (SNB) Surf Boat Panel - 6 years to current, has served as Deputy Director Surf Sports SNB - 5 years Branch and a range of other positions to develop the sport and support its members. 

Nick Sampson and fellow Avalon boatie at the Freshwater Surf Boat Carnival. Photo: Malcolm Trees

A few Seasons back, after an injury which precluded him from competing that Summer, you still saw Nick on the beach at every surf boat carnival helping out as one of the vast army of volunteer officials without which no carnival could run.

Four of the Accredited Officials who helped out at Newport on Saturday November 20th (l to r): George Prescott, John 'Maverick' White, Jenny Drury, Jeff Hewitt

Avalon Beach SLSC's Melinda Akehurst, on the beach on Saturday as well

The local surf boats carnival calendar will see clubs heading to Bilgola on December 4th for Round 3 of the SNB surf boat premiership. Freshwater hosted Round 1 on November 13th, Newport Round 2. 

The Young Guns will happen at Collaroy on January 9th, the same weekend the Ocean Thunder series reignites, followed by the Branch, State and Australian championships - with carnivals in between these as well as the ASRL Open. 

Newport Thunder, Michael King (Sweep), Abby Ballesty, Tara Doyle, Claudia Harris, Ella Smith - back to back Australian Champions 2021 and in 2019 (2020 being cancelled) - have moved into the Opens Division this Season. This great crew have excelled together for years now and although a bit nervous about being in this new division, their quiet steady work brings results.

Below run some of the crews and action at the 22nd Newport Surf Boat Carnival. Album available here for those who'd like a copy of anything for their own family albums (fuzzies and duds still in there - apologies).

Newport Results:

Palm Beach SLSC at Newport, all except Reserves who were racing.
Avalon Beach SLSC 'Pinkies', Sweep: Nathan Wellings
Avalon Beach SLSC 'Brumbies'
Freshwater 'Little Kids', Sweep: Nathan Perry
North Narrabeen SLSC 'Chillis' and 'Flamingoes'
Collaroy 'Magnets'
North Narrabeen 'Sugar Beans' (Reserves) and 'Flamingles' (Opens), Sweep; Don McManus
South Curl Curl at Newport's 22nd Surf Boat Carnival
Coogee 'B' Reserves
Coogee 'Sons'
Palm Beach SLSC Sweep Matt Giblin with photographer Bill Sheridan
Avalon Beach SLSC Sweep Pete Carter
Avalon Beach SLSC's Roland Luke
Palm Beach SLSC - Newport surf club park bench philosophising.

Photos/report: A J Guesdon.