Seaspray Surf Club’s Jess and Zali impress at premier event

Seaspray's Zali Gallagher competing at The Aussies.

SEASPRAY Surf Club’s Zali Gallagher recently won silver at surf life saving’s premier event, The Aussies.

The 17-year-old was the anchor runner in Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club’s under 19 relay team which came second in the women’s beach relay at the 2024 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships held on the Sunshine Coast last weekend.

Zali further proved herself among Australia’s best young sprinters, after placing sixth in the final of the under 19 women’s beach sprint. She was the only Victorian to qualify for the final.

Zali also finished in the top 20 competitors in the open women’s beach flags, and she scored an eighth place with Anglesea’s open relay team.

It was Zali’s first time competing at the national titles and came just weeks after she won gold and four silver medals at the 2024 Victorian Senior Lifesaving Championships.

“With all the hard work the team put in, it was great to see it pay off and be able to share such a fantastic result with them,” Zali said.

“In the moment, it was so surreal and, honestly, it really hasn’t sunk in yet.

“It was awesome to be able to have this experience with those girls and having the Jacksons (also from Seaspray Surf Club) and my own family there made it all the more special.”

Clubmate Jessica Jackson again proved herself among Australia’s best in the open women’s beach flags with a top 10 finish. She missed the final by just one place.

This is the eighth time Jessica has competed at The Aussies. She has finished among the top 10 on five occasions, including reaching the finals twice as a competitor in the under 15s and the under 19s. This is the second time Jessica has ranked among the top 10 open female beach flag athletes at the national championships.

Jessica and Zali were the last two athletes from Victoria to be knocked out of the open women’s flags event on the way to the final at The Aussies.

“I’m very happy to make the top 10 in the Australin open women’s flags. It was a great opportunity to compete against the best beach flaggers in Australia.,” Jessica said.

“Thank you to my coaches and all who support me to compete.”

Seaspray surf boat competitor, Emma Lazzaro also fought through to the finals in her event at the national championships.

Rowing for Lorne Surf Life Saving Club, Emma and her Lorne Prawns teammates were among the top seven crews from across the nation to contest the women’s reserve boat final in bumpy conditions.

The Lorne Prawns won gold at the Australian Surf Rowers League (ASRL) Open 2024 in February, but were missing Seaspray’s Linley Bertacchini at this event on the Sunshine Coast.

“Each round demands a lot to make it through and the surf introduced a big element of luck during the event. Though not a fairytale ending, I’m proud to have earned a place in another Australian final,” Emma said.

Seaspray Surf Club President, Chris Fleming said the club was extremely proud of the three athletes’ achievements.

“Zali, Jess and Emma have all trained hard over many months and years to reach the highest level in surf life saving sports,” Fleming said.

“The club is proud of their hard work and dedication to their sport and to surf life saving.

“It’s quite special for all three of our club’s competitors at The Aussies to make it through to the top 10 in Australia.

Jessica Jackson during the open women’s sprint. Photo: Contributed

“Zali, Jess and Emma are outstanding ambassadors for our club, as well as skilled volunteer surf life savers at our beach. We are all looking forward to seeing all three when they return home to congratulate them in person.”

Zali and Jess train weekly with Wellington Athletics coach Denis Huffer and on the beach with the Anglesea team at South Melbourne.

During the week, Emma uses a rowing machine and follows sessions provided by her coach. She also incorporates indoor cycling, running, weight workouts and pilates into her training. About twice a month, Emma travels to Lorne to row with her crew.

Athletes representing 314 surf clubs competed in more than 480 beach and ocean events at The Aussies.

The championships were held on the Sunshine Coast at Alexandra Headland, Maroochydore and Mooloolaba from April 13 to 21.