DUO?S IRON WILL
By MAX GODBEE
YAMBA lifesavers Alyce Bennett and Jacob Lollback showed plenty of skills, courage and determination to carry off a feature double at the NSW NRMA surf life saving championships at Umina Beach on Sunday.
Bennett won the Under-19 ironwoman gold from a strong field and Lollback did likewise in the Under-17 ironman crown.
Both coached by Jim Dougherty, Bennett and Lollback did it the hard way, coming from behind to take gold.
The dual win by a country surf club was the talk of the carnival.
The championships were held over four days and Sunday's conditions were certainly the best and most testing of the four, with a 1.5m to 2m surf and a strong south-westerly wind.
After winning his heat and semi-final, Lollback's chances looked slim in the final when an unsuitable draw saw him pounded in the break and he slipped back from second to eighth place.
Lollback recovered to move back into second in the swim leg but it looked like McMasters Beach top liner Chad Martin may have held a winning break.
Fortunately, Lollback picked up a good wave to almost draw level as they stood up and outgunned Martin in the sprint up the beach and final 40m dash to the finish.
Martin was second with Terrigal's Brendan Schofield third.
Lollback reached two other finals -- the Under-17 board finishing second to Tim Packer of Terrigal and out of a place in the surf swim.
Lollback also reached the quarter finals of the open board championship.
Bennett, despite being hampered by an injured right shoulder, showed her talent and courage to make the ironwoman final where she faced one of the nation's top competitors, Naomi Flood from Queenscliff. Flood was definitely the favourite and her win seemed assured after the first two legs -- the board paddle and the swim -but she faded in the ski leg.
Bennett showed to advantage in this discipline, handling the tough surf strongly. Bennett took command in the run section to win from Shellharbour's Meg Nelson and Brodie Moir (Byron Bay).
Bennet made three other finals -- fourth to Flood in the open ironwoman championship, fourth in the open board and fifth in the Under-19 board.
The Yamba boat crew was eliminated after finishing fourth in round three of the surfboats.
At the Masters championships Yamba's Jim Dougherty and the Schafer bothers, Jim and Neil, finished third in the combined over 150 years surf teams for the bronze and Schafer gained a further bronze in the 55-59 years surf race. He was also fourth in the rescue tube race final.