WARRNAMBOOL athlete Stephen Kerr survived a sprint finish to win his fourth consecutive Victorian Life Saving Championships open men’s board title on the weekend.
Kerr was one of three Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club members to collect gold at the Ocean Grove-based titles.
Teenage pair Jane McMeel and Eve Aulsebrook saluted in the under 17 women’s beach run and under 17 women’s board events respectively.
They combined with Freya Parrotte to win bronze in the open women’s board relay.
Matthew Hardiman snared silver in the under 15 men’s board race and joined Paddy Carr and Mick Slockwitch to claim silver in the under 15 men’s board relay.
Kerr said the open men’s board win was his sixth overall.
The junior coach credited his vast experience for giving him an edge in the fight to the finish.
“It was a tough paddle. The conditions on Sunday were fairly tough,” he said.
“There was a metre-and- a-half swell running and an offshore cross wind to paddle into.
“At the first turning mark I managed to hit the lead and around the buoys I managed to build a gap.
“A young Lorne competitor Darcy Hansen joined me in on a wave and it was a sprint to the finish.
“The tide was up so I was lucky it was a shorter sprint.”
Kerr said Aulsebrook, McMeel and Parrotte’s success in the open women’s board relay was a breakthrough for the club.
“It was our first medal in that event for 10 years,” he said.
“It’s good to see the young girls step up in open — Eve and Jane came up from under 17s.”
Kerr praised Aulsebrook and said McMeel handled the competition pressure well.
“It was Eve’s first individual board medal,” he said.
“It was a terrific paddle by her. Jane was second last year in the under 17 girls’ two-kilometre beach run and managed to turn the tables and get gold.
“It’s been a very successful couple of weeks so hopefully we get more into the senior state team next year.”
Kerr said Slockwitch had found form at the right time of the season.
“He was one of our under 14 competitors the weekend before (at the junior state titles) and it was his first senior carnival,” he said.
“After his performances at the junior titles we managed to chat to him and get him to go to the senior ones and he acquitted himself well.”
Warrnambool took 20 competitors to the championships.
Port Fairy’s Jake Hetherington finished behind joint winners — Mordialloc’s Matthew Taylor and Mooloolaba’s Joel Simondson — in the under 19 men’s board race and was the club’s sole medallist.