Seaspray members impress

Seaspray Surf Club's Jess Jackson (left) and Bridget Brown finished among Australia's best in the women's beach flags at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships held on the Gold Coast. Photo: Contributed

Seaspray’s Jessica Jackson has proven herself among Australia’s the top 10 Open Female Beach Flags athletes after competing at the 2022 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on the Gold Coast earlier this month.

Teammate Bridget Brown was among the top 20 women in the nation in both the Under-19s and the Open Female Beach Flags.

Jess performed extremely well to finish equal ninth, missing the final eight by just one place.

Jess said this year’s national titles posed a new challenge for her.

“I just love the quality of competition that you find at the nationals,” Jess said.

“I am extremely happy to come equal ninth for beach flags, especially since this is my first year as an open competitor.”

In the Open Female Beach Sprint, Jess and Bridget (who was competing in two age groups) ran strongly to both finish sixth in their heats.

In the Under-19 Beach Sprint, Bridget again finished sixth in her heat after lining up against four runners who would progress through to the final.

They included the eventual winner from North Cronulla.

Bridget said the highlight of the event was competing at the highest level.

“This is the first time I have competed at the national titles. It was a wonderful experience,” Bridget said.

“And, of course, I am extremely happy with my performance in the beach flags and to finish top 20, particularly in the open.”

Seaspray’s Women’s Boat Crew, comprising Emma Lazzaro, Linley Bertacchini, Kristine Gilbert, Sally Black and sweep Stuart Mawley, also competed at the Australian titles, but missed out on a fairytale ending to their debut season.

Heavy surf conditions forced the postponement of their event until the final day of competition.

Organisers were forced to run a modified schedule, which meant crews were immediately cut if they did not finish within eight minutes, instead of having their guaranteed three heats.

Emma said the crew gave their all.

“We punched through the messy surf break well, but hit a few waves on the back bar. This caused us to lose boat speed and the last wave of the set cleaned us up and flipped the boat,” Emma said.

“By the time we managed to turn the boat over, we were timed out of the competition. It was devastating.

“We had worked so hard during the season and were on pace with our fellow Victorian boats’ crews.”

The women’s boat crew is determined to train hard during the cooler months to prepare for the 2022/23 season, which starts in November.

Jess and Bridget are coached by Denis Huffer from Wellington Athletics.

Jess also trains with the Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club’s Beach Team.

The Australian Championships, known to competitors as the Aussies, were held over nine days earlier last month.

More than 6000 athletes representing 314 surf clubs competed in around 480 beach and ocean events.

Seaspray Surf Club’s Jess Jackson (left) and Bridget Brown finished among Australia’s best in the women’s beach flags at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships held on the Gold Coast. Photo: Contributed