Giant effort from Minnie surf club
DURING masters competition on Thursday it was Yamba's women taking the lead, and yesterday it was Minnie Water Wooli's turn.
The under-23 Minnie women's surf boat crew of Rachael Gallagher, Briony Edgar, Bree Steele, Chantelle Reay and Tony Benfield on sweep were staring at a Sunday finals appearance by the third heat of their strong showing at the Allphones New South Wales Surf Life Saving Championships, hosted by Cudgen Surf Life Saving Club.
The crew came a close second in its first heat behind the Palm Beach Piglets, won by three boat lengths in its second heat and was feeling confident heading into its third heat and an all-but-guaranteed semis appearance in the afternoon.
Bow-woman Gallagher said the crew had a good chance of success in tomorrow's finals.
“We're not quite hot favourites because some of the Sydney clubs are pretty strong,” she said.
“It's a pretty young crew, as Chantelle and I only just turned 16 and the other two are only 18.”
She said it was the team's first year competing and its first state championships as a crew.
“We're only competing in the boats,” she said.
“We're enjoying our time here.
"We've seen some great organis- ation from Cudgen, especially with the dual areas for boats.”
Gallagher's father Paul said he enjoyed his masters competition, but said the conditions had been quite tame.
“There's certainly been plenty of entertainment for us down here,” he said.
“I'm really proud of Rachael and the crew.
"It's an amazing effort by such a young crew in the under- 23s.”
Rob McLenan, second bowman for Minnie Water's male crew, said his team's finals chances were uncertain.
“Our first heat was very tight and we managed fourth,” McLenan said.
“In our second heat we got third after being very close at the finish against Caves Beach, who are a really good team and got a good start, and in the third heat we got fifth.”
McLenan said the crew – Terry Power, Nash Callaghan, Matt McLenan and sweep Tony Benfield – was unlucky in the third heat after hitting a flat spot and being passed by another boat.
“But we'll see if we make the cut for the finals,” he said.
“It gets very hard from here on in, and our prep hasn't been great because of work commitments.
“We went to the Australian titles last year and got two firsts in heats before they called it off because it was too dangerous.”
He said he was proud the women were doing so well, especially because it was their first time together, but hastened to add they trained frequently.
“Compared to the bigger Sydney clubs and their resources, Minnie is putting in a very good effort,” he said.
“If we don't make the finals, the girls will.”