By Amanda Lulham, The Daily Telegraph, 2 min read, January 11, 2022 – 12:00 AM
It’s fierce in rugby league and now the rivalry between NSW and Queensland athletes in surf life saving looks set to explode in the Nutri-Grain series at North Bondi this week. There has been a mini-war of words going on for months. NSW surf life savers have been quick at every opportunity to remind their Queensland counterparts how easy they had it during Covid lockdowns in 2021 compared to them. Now NSW teenager Zach Morris maintains the obstacles he and other athletes from NSW have had to overcome has made them tougher than their rivals from north of the border.
“I remember we were two months into our lockdown and rock pool swimming at 5 am and they had a lockdown for three days and they were all complaining,” said Morris, who started his surf career with Swansea Belmont before move to Manly and eventually the strong Newport club on Sydney’s northern beaches. “We all texted back and said are you kidding. “It’s fired me up. I think we’re tougher now, more desperate to win.”
Top surf athletes from both sides of the border will clash on Friday. Saturday and Sunday when the Nutri-Grain iron series kicks off at North Bondi with the opening three rounds.
Newport’s Morris, at 19, is one of the youngest in the field and also one of the tallest. “I was always pretty small and then at 17 I just shot up and I’m now six foot three,” said Morris, in his third year of an electricians apprenticeship. The northern beaches ironman pulled off a podium finish in his first year in the pro series last season to eventually finish eighth overall.
The 2022 series kicks off at North Bondi on Friday with the next two rounds run over the weekend. The final three rounds will be raced in Queensland.
NUTRI-GRAIN IRON FORMATS FOR NORTH BONDI ROUNDS 1-3
- ROUND ONE: Friday’s racing will involve the Endurosurf format – a 40-minute iron race over an M-Shaped or traditional course. Each of the disciplines of swim, board, ski will be completed twice with competitors taking on the surf break again and again.
- ROUND TWO: Saturday’s racing will be the new Wave Cross format. These sprint races will be six to eight minutes long and are designed to create an extremely fast pace, tight finishing racing. Dependent on conditions, WaveCross racing could involve racing around single turning cans rather than the normal two. An initial seeding race in a 12-minute traditional iron will determine groupings in four quarter-finals.
- ROUND THREE: Sunday’s Survival format comprises three separate, 12-minute long iron races starting with 20 competitors. The last six finishers in each race are eliminated to leave eight racing in the final. There is a five minute countdown between each race. Race 1 – Swim, Board, Ski. Race 2 – Board, Ski, Swim. Race 3 – Ski, Swim, Board.