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Albany Surf Lifesaving Club’s annual Albany Surf Craft Challenge attracts record-breaking numbers

Harry GrigsonAlbany Advertiser
The 2023 Surfboat Challenge start line.
Camera IconThe 2023 Surfboat Challenge start line. Credit: Laurie Benson

A record amount of competitors from across the State will brave the tough conditions forecast this weekend for Albany Surf Life Saving Club’s annual Surf Craft Challenge.

More than 260 competitors from as far north as Dampier will converge on the shores of Princess Royal Harbour at 8am on Sunday as they embark on the arduous 13km journey to Albany Surf Life Saving Club at Middleton Beach.

Men’s and women’s will be split into youth, open and masters divisions with Albany unleashing Albany Kelpie into the open men’s competition alongside two masters women’s crews, with more than 40 boats and 60 ski paddlers set to tackle the waters.

Among the strong contingent of metropolitan clubs are North Cottesloe-based North Cott Impact returning to defend their Whale Tail title in the open women’s category while reigning open men’s champions, North Cott, will not pursue a third consecutive victory.

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ASLSC event organiser Nick Walker said their famed event, ingrained in the City of Albany’s WA Day long weekend celebrations, is a brilliant opportunity to bring Sandgropers from near and far to celebrate the long weekend.

“It has become a part of the WA Day long weekend and another reason for people to come and stay and enjoy Albany and the south coast,” he said.

“It welcomes surf lifesaving clubs and paddling communities to Albany from across the State including Esperance, Bunbury, Perth and everywhere in between.

“It creates an important meeting, training, racing and social focus which sites outside the traditional lifesaving and surf craft racing calendar.”

Walker said the record-breaking numbers for the event is promising for the future of the sport and the club.

“This (record numbers) is a heartening sign of the health of the lifesaving movement and surf craft sports in general — even more so considering the steady increase in young rowers and paddlers each year,” he said.

“The event is in celebration of Albany’s unique coastal landscape, maritime culture and the strength of community spirit within surf craft racing, lifesaving, Albany and the region.

“Funds raised by the event go back into the Albany Surf Life Saving Club which is busy preparing to move back into an expanded facility later in the year, aimed at securing the future of community lifesaving services on Middleton Beach.”

Despite the forecast of wet and wild weather with strong winds, the offshore north-westerly conditions are expected to be favourable for the race.

A 2km beach run and presentations will take place at Middleton Beach after the craft races to round off the event.

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