Nathan Jay and Emily Maythers have shown they will be the athletes to beat after a strong opening round of the Illawarra-based Sydney Water Surf Series on Saturday.
The four-event competition, held annually as various venues across the the Illawarra, attracts some of NSW's best surf lifesaving talent, with the 2023 series kicking off at Warilla Beach.
In challenging conditions, Jay and Maythers - from Cronulla and North Cronulla SLSC respectively - claimed victories in the open male and female Ironperson competitions. However, there was also some impressive efforts from Illawarra locals on their home soil.
Jay secured the open Ironman win from Cronulla member Jay Furniss, while four of the next five spots went to Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC surf lifesavers. Jayden Beaumont finished third ahead of clubmates Bailey Krstevski, Tyler McEwan and Jack Carberry, with Lachlan Blake taking eighth place.
"It was tricky conditions, but there was a lot of skilled-based racing. It was a lot of fun," Nathan Jay said post-race.
"I just love the competition."
In the open Ironwomen, Maythers was declared victorious from Bulli local Sarah Locke, with Warilla's Jordan White and Taylah Allen finishing third and fourth respectively.
Furniss mustered revenge in the open male single ski category to win from Jay and Carberry, while Maythers completed the winning double in the female class ahead of Locke and Allen.
"It was really tough, there was a lot of water moving around - especially with the wind out there on the ski. I think all of us had a few moments, but it was definitely a lot of fun," Maythers said.
"This is always such a good series opener, to come down here and get a few races under our belt before we start focusing on the surf of summer season, heading into the Nutri-Grain (Ironwoman) trials for a couple of us.
"I'm looking forward to a big summer ahead."
The Sydney Water Series was first held in 2002 and is recognised as the longest-running surf sport series in NSW. It features surf lifesavers of all ages as they hone their skills.
The second round of this year's competition will be held on November 4 at Kiama Downs SLSC.
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