Port Douglas nippers to chase medals at state championships


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NORTH Queensland’s fastest nippers are hoping to outgun their southern rivals when they compete in Surf Life Saving Queensland’s (SLSQ) Youth State Championships at Hervey Bay next month.

The local contingent includes 34 of the top junior lifesavers from Port Douglas, Ellis Beach, Cairns, Mission Beach and Etty Bay surf clubs, who will put aside traditional rivalries to compete under the North Queensland banner from February 17-19.

They will join 1300 other nippers from across the State competing in surf rescue and resuscitation, surf races, board races, beach sprints, beach flags, surf swims, beach relays, ironman and ironwoman at the pinnacle sporting event for junior lifesavers aged 11-15 years. 

SLSQ North Queensland Branch Youth State Team Manager Alex Rogers said Hervey Bay presented ideal conditions for the northern nippers who were used to relying on their own speed and strength to win events instead of catching the larger waves experienced at recent championships on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

The North Queensland surf sports season ended after the North Australia Championships (North Aussies) in Mackay at the end of October, but those keen to compete at a State level must align their training with the south-east corner where the surf season is during summer.

“The summer months in North Queensland are when the stingers and crocodiles are active at our beaches so our enthusiastic nippers train wherever and whenever they can and maintain individual fitness with swim squad training at least three times a week, running, triathlons or bike riding,” Roger said.

“Petra Dunn generously offers the Cable Ski Park at Smithfield each year so the team can work together to stay fit and train on their boards safely in the water.

“The result is a hardened team of athletes who have dedicated months of training in adverse conditions and their strength and endurance is noted by the southern clubs.

“Our team is unique as all our kids have a go at every individual and team event, whereas the larger southern clubs have many nippers who focus all their training on performing well in just one event.”

Rogers said the North Queensland nippers were also in training to be volunteer surf life savers, givinh back to their community by patrolling beaches and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.

He also thanked the support from the community to achieve these goals.

“We would like to thank our sponsors McDonalds Restaurants, Clifton BP, Port Douglas Medical, Quicksilver Group and Coral Coast Financial Services, NQ Promo Works for assisting with uniforms plus the many tourism operators from Port Douglas to Cairns who have kindly donated raffle prizes so the kids can fundraise,” he said.