Originally written by SIMON BAMPFIELD
THE Portland Surf Life Saving Club has returned from the 2004 Victorian Masters Surf Life Saving Championships with three medals to its name.
The Portland club has traditionally been in the medals at the championships and was confident going into the weekend’s event, especially after a strong performance at last year’s championships.
“We were reasonably confident and we didn’t go too bad. We managed a bronze in the 180-plus age group (surf boat rowing), Graham Eldridge won bronze in his surf race as did Ross Murrell,” club spokesman Andy Murrell said.
The surf boat crew of Steve Jago, Craig Stewart, Roger Trewavis, Ross Murrell and Andy Murrell (sweep) competed in the combined age group of 180-plus, and were looking to match their performance of last year when they claimed a silver medal.
The current Australian title holder, Lorne, was a red hot favourite for the event and it was no surprise that the strong team prevailed on its home beach.
Portland was sitting comfortably in second place nearing the finish of the race, until Port Fairy got on a terrific wave that saw it go past Portland and pip the latter at the finish line.
Graham Eldridge, 49, competed in the 45-49 age group for the surf race, being the reigning champion of the class.
It wasn’t to be this year though, but the Portlander still had a great race to finish third.
Ross Murrell, 54, also claimed third place in the 50-54 age group surf race.
Both Eldridge and Ross Murrell ran great races against younger competitors.
“They were both at the top end of their age groups so it was a good effort by both of them.”
The pair will go into the next age bracket for the 2005 championships and will be considered among the favourites.
After returning to Portland with three medals the club was proud of its achievement.
“It was satisfying, we only took a contingent of six people so to come back with three medals was a good effort.”
The Australian Masters Titles, which all medal winners qualify for, will be held on the Gold Coast in March.
Unfortunately due to unavailability the Portland team won’t be making the trip to the competition.