And the Surf Girl winner is …
To all you Noosa Heads and Sunshine Beach aspiring exceptional women lifesavers, the gauntlet has been thrown down in 2021 by Surf Life Saving Queensland.
After SLSQ named its Surf Girl of the Year in front of 200 guests at last night’s Surf Girl Gala Dinner at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, the SLSQ revealed a revitalisation of the Surf Girl flagship program, which has been in operation since 1964.
Sonita Leng-Cole from Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club was named the Surf Girl winner and also went home with the Surf Girl Innovation Award as the most innovative fundraiser and Surf Girl promoter.
She took home a new Volkswagen Polo thanks to Frizelle Sunshine Automotive.
The gala dinner was the culmination of an action-packed three days of judging where the eight ambassadors from all across Queensland participated in community awareness initiatives, mock beach rescues, interviews with each of the judges and a speech summing up their year as a Surf Girl ambassador.
Ela Heiniger from Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club was named the 2020 Surf Girl Highest Fundraiser, having raised $180,162.59 for her club.
In total, the eight Surf Girl ambassadors raised a massive $529,756.19 for their clubs during 2019-20.
Ken Clark, General Manager of Commercial at Surf Life Saving Queensland, Ironwoman Courtney Hancock and 2018 Surf Girl winner Jessica Simpson acted as judges for the 2019/20 Surf Girl program.
Surf Woman of the Year is a step forward in the progression of SLSQ’s Surf Girl program, which has seen more than 1000 women raise $17 million for Queensland surf lifesaving clubs in 56 years.
The program has a rich history of participants who have excelled on and away from the beach, including actor Joy Chambers, senior political Adviser Karly Abbott (nee Fife), crime journalist Emily Prain and university lecturer Sammy Fien.
In 2021 the Surf Woman of the Year program, targeted at women over the age of 18, seeks to engage the most capable women from surf lifesaving clubs across Queensland and develop their skills and experience to further their future careers both within and outside the Surf Life Saving movement.
The program will also connect women from across the state and in turn build a powerful alumni network.
Surf Woman of the Year will celebrate the most passionate, talented and hardworking women in surf lifesaving, with one woman walking away with a prize package worth $20,000.
SLSQ CEO Dave Whimpey said he was proud of the new direction of the program.
“The 2021 Surf Woman of the Year program is modern, while recognising the important traditions of our past,” he said.
“It will empower and develop future female leaders in our surf lifesaving community.
“We have refreshed the name and program itself after careful consideration and consultation with our key stakeholders and former Surf Girls.
“We hope more young women from all across our great state will feel encouraged to apply for Surf Woman of the Year.”
Applications for Surf Woman of the Year program are now open.