Top of the class
STATE versus state. Mate versus mate.
No, not State of Origin rugby league but the friendly rivalry between two of the country's most promising young surf life savers, both of whom attend Mt St Patrick College at Murwillumbah.
There must be something in that fresh country air out in 'Murbah' because the school has and continues to produce a long list of top-class surf life savers, the latest of whom are 14-year-old barons of the board, Grant Harris and Luke Chaffer.
Grant is a member of Kurrawa SLSC and at last weekend's Queensland championships he scored a win in the under-14 boys individual board event, emulating Luke who, represented the Cudgen Headlands club at the NSW titles, took out the same category.
Because they perform in competitions in separate states, the boys rarely clash in the surf, but they did so twice earlier this year while contesting the Lennox Head Enduro and the Cudgen Classic.
Honours were even with Luke winning at Lennox Head and Grant beating Luke in his own "backyard" at Cudgen.
Tim Whitney, the sports co-ordinator at St Pats, is an unabashed admirer of the boys who are justly reaping the rewards for their dedication and hard work.
"Luke and Grant trained extremely hard to peak for the respective state carnivals with both completing at least three arduous swim sessions per week and up to four board sessions on top of their weekly Nipper commitments and patrolling obligations," Tim said.
The pair contested numerous events at their respective state carnivals and met with tremendous success.
Grant also won a gold medal in the board rescue and silver in the swim team and Cameron, while Luke was a semi-finalist in the board rescue and finished fourth in both the individual swim and 2km run against the 15-year-old boys.
This weekend Grant will compete in the Queensland Senior Championships and then he and Luke will be represent their clubs at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, to be held at Kurrawa Beach from March 29.
Mt St Pats has an impressive depth of talent in surf life saving. Among its students are Kaitlin Smith, the 2009 NSW State Junior Life Saver of the Year, and Riley Chaffer, Luke's big sister, who was the 2010 Far North Coast Branch Junior Surf Life Saver of the Year.
Other surf life saving hot-shots at the school are Ela and Zoe Heiniger, Isaac King, Sarah Wilson, Amie Smith, Tahlia Jones, Josh Quinn, Lewis Warne, Russell Chandler and Aodhan Wilson.