Surf lifesaving keeps Zahn forever young

CUDGEN Headland's Russell Zahn proved he's still as fit as ever, claiming gold in the 45-49 years male board event at the Masters NSW Surf Life Saving Championships at Swansea Belmont on the weekend.

The 45-year-old veteran lifeguard has competed at local, state, national and world titles, and modestly puts his latest victory, along with his third place in the ironman, down to luck.

“It was a big day and I had some good luck,” he said.

“It's not an easy age group so it was tough to get the win, but some days it's your day.

“I was really happy with the win, but a bit disappointed to get beaten by a whisker in the ironman.”

The Kingscliff-based optometrist is a long-serving member of the Cudgen Headland SLSC and said his experience got him home.

“It was a particularly flat day and there was little assistance from the waves, so you needed to be fit,” he said.

“I think the Cooly Gold (which he competed in at the end of 2008) was good preparation, because anything else looks easy after that.

“Competitors had to make the most of whatever luck came, but it seemed to be the fittest guys on the day that did well.”

Zahn's Cudgen stablemate Matt Rigney also performed well, just getting pipped at the post to settle for silver in the men's belt race.

However as Zahn was quick to stress it isn't all about results any more.

“I just enjoy the camaraderie we have,” he said.

“We've all known each other for years and regardless of where we finish we all have a beer and a laugh afterwards.

“It's like reliving nippers where you compete for enjoyment and the heat is off.

“However there is definitely a lot more cursing and swearing.”

Sydney's Queenscliff took the overall gong.

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