Local surf crew best of the best
MINNIE Water-Wooli surf crew sweep Tony Benfield says his squad’s state-wide recognition now matches its local reputation after clinching its division of the Navy Series Best of the Best competition.
The Navy Series, held at Wanda Beach in Sydney on Sunday, is a nationally sponsored event run by the Australian Surf Rowers League (ASRL).
The high number of teams competing in the five separate surf boat series in NSW forced the ASRL to pit each of the regional winners head-to-head to determine the very best.
This gave Minnie Water-Wooli a perfect opportunity to show off its boat crew.
Points gained by winning the Best of the Best competition go towards determining NSW Interstate Challenge representatives, with that event to be held in Wollongong in early February.
For now, Benfield is happy his crew has finally cracked the national spotlight.
“We have won a lot of local carnivals but to go to the next level and win against the best was great,” he said.
“A lot of people have known for a long time that crews from Minnie Water were strong and we have just shown that in this competition.”
Rowing in testing 1.5m to 2m seas, the Minnie Water-Wooli crew of Ash Benfield, AJ Lawrence, Anthony Holmes, Tim Jarrold and sweep Benfield won the final in an exciting finish.
Broulee and Bilgola filled the minor places.
The deciding point came when a large wave at the turning buoys catapulted the top three teams well clear of their rivals and made it a race in itself.
Displaying excellent surf skills, the Minnie Water-Wooli crew gained the upper hand 50m from the shore by holding its seats and rowing across the finish line to win by a narrow half-boat margin.
The crew regularly train on the Clarence River as well as at the beach at Minnie Water.
A greater training intensity since the holidays ended was a catalyst for the triumph.
“There was a far bit of whooping and celebrating going on but we didn’t get home until 11pm so we will celebrate further at the appropriate time,” Benfield said.
“We have become a bit more serious at training and it has paid off.”
The win at Wanda Beach tops off a great week for the Minnie Water-Wooli surf boat rowers.
The club’s reserve grade boat crew - Matt McLennan, Nash Callaghan, Rob McLennan and Tamara McSkimming - won the Clarence Valley Council’s Community Sports Award at the Australia Day ceremony at Minnie Water Beach on Tuesday.
“People have known for a long time that crews from Minnie Water were strong.”