Focus on friendship at Sandon Point surf club

Camaraderie is a focus at Sandon Point Surf Life Saving Club which has 350 nippers and 130 active patrolling members – up from just eight patrolling members in 1996. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Camaraderie is a focus at Sandon Point Surf Life Saving Club which has 350 nippers and 130 active patrolling members – up from just eight patrolling members in 1996. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Sandon Point has a unique place on the Illawarra coastline. 

The beach’s shallow banks make it a safe swimming spot and rock formations at either end house great local fishing spots.

The Sandon Point beach located south of the point is patrolled by one of the youngest surf lifesaving clubs in the Illawarra.

Established in 1961, the club has always struggled to gain members, and more so, to keep them.

In 1996 the club hit an all-time low with only eight registered patrol members.

The club has since fought its way back to become the current Illawarra Surf Club of the Year.

Club captain Alexander Lockhart and his family have grown up by the ocean, and have long been involved in the club.

‘‘When I was six, there were 12 patrolling members. Now we have about 130 active patrolling members and 350 nippers,’’ Mr Lockhart said.

‘‘It’s hard to get younger people to stay on after nippers, so building up our club through the junior ranks is a point of focus right now.

‘‘We now have surfboards that members can take out, which encourages them to spend time at the beach and around the club and we are really focused on a fun atmosphere.’’

Sandon Point Surf Life Saving Club has produced a number of state and national title competitors, but its focus is on camaraderie within the surf club as well as building relations with adjoining clubs.

‘‘Last year we ran a mini carnival with Thirroul, Bellambi and Woonona clubs. It showed the advancement in our club over the last decade. We are definitely going from strength to strength,’’ Mr Lockhart said.

With increases in training and education programs the club has been able to retain members and is slowly building a stronger team.

‘‘We now have nine patrol teams, with a lot more members coming up to the senior club,’’ Mr Lockhart said.

‘‘We have also been in our new clubhouse for the last two seasons, which I think is helping retain members, before that we were in demountables.’’

Although still described as a cruisy beach, Sandon Point, like many beaches in recent years, has witnessed an influx of crowds travelling down from western Sydney.

‘‘You can drive down, park and walk straight onto the beach,’’ Mr Lockhart said.

The club is currently mourning the loss of president and long-standing member Owen Davies.

‘‘He was very good at what he did,’’ Mr Lockhart said. ‘‘His wife and kids are still involved in the club and we are planning to do something special to commemorate everything he did here.’’

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