If the surf lifesaving world didn’t know the name Ben Carberry before the NSW state championships, it certainly does now.
In a stunning boilover the 19-year-old from Warilla-Barrack Point upstaged national ironman stars Nathan Smith and Kendrick Louis in Sunday’s open ironman final, breaking a 20-year drought for country clubs in the blue ribbon event.
After matching Smith and Louis in the swim, Carberry managed to break away with Smith in the board leg before kicking away in the final ski leg.
‘‘My swim and my ski are probably my best legs so I tried to really have a dig in the board to try and keep my position,’’ Carberry said.
‘‘In the board I got out in front and Nathan was sitting on my wash and we came in on the same wave.
‘‘I sat on him in the ski and once I turned that last can I just thought ‘I really want to win this’ and I gave it my all on the way in and started pulling away.’’
Like most young New South Welshman, Carberry grew up idolising 32-year-old Smith, who has earned legend status in NSW for refusing to join the mass exodus of the state’s top ironman competitors north of the border.
‘‘We’ve all looked up to Nathan because he’s one of the ironmen that has stayed down here [NSW] and still got to the top of the sport,’’ Carberry said.
‘‘To beat him was just an honour, it’s awesome to race against him.
‘‘I was really stoked to be able to race them both [Smith and Louis] and to actually beat them was a great feeling.’’
Carberry was also proud to break the city club’s stranglehold on the title, proving that big titles can be won by country clubs.
‘‘I didn’t realise at the time but I was really stoked to bring it back to the country,’’ he said.
‘‘Warilla’s been a really supportive club, we’ve got some really good young kids coming up and some of the older ones as well - they really push you along.’’
Club coach Craig Burke credits Carberry with raising the standard across the club.
‘‘The way he leads our training sessions every week has pushed all of our younger guys and girls to new levels.’’
Carberry also combined with Olympic gold medallist Dave Smith and his brother Scott for bronze in the ski relay, while Madison Prior picked up bronze in the open ironwoman and the under-17 female board rescue team of Cassie Smith and Emily Ross-Kelly also claimed gold.