Kayla Russell (left) and Bonnie Hancock have their eyes on gold in the open board race final.
Kayla Russell (left) and Bonnie Hancock have their eyes on gold in the open board race final.

Sawtell?s golden girls shining stars

By DAVID MOASE

SAWTELL Surf Life Saving Club sent a team of just 11 competitors to the 2007 Westpac NSW Surf Life Saving Championships at Cronulla but have returned as one of the most successful clubs.

Led by the amazing feats of the Hancock sisters, Courtney and Bonnie, and Kayla Russell, Sawtell stunned their rivals by winning eight events at the three-day carnival, making them the leading country club.

Courtney was a star of Sunday's final day of competition and named female athlete of the carnival. Overall she won five gold medals and two silvers, including a win in the open surf race and a close second to three-time champion Naomi Flood in the glamour open ironwoman.

She also teamed with Bonnie to win the open board rescue, while the Hancock girls and Russell joined forces to take out the under-19 Taplin and board relays.

"It's been a great few days," Courtney said.

"We've gone really well and I'm proud of the whole team, especially my sister Bonnie."

Courtney pushed Flood all the way in the ironwoman final, losing by only five metres in the desperate final sprint up the beach to the finish line.

She then looked to have the under-19 ironwoman sewn up with a big lead going into the ski leg but was smashed by a big wave and edged into second place.

Earlier in the day the surf gods smiled on Courtney when a big wave took her past Flood in the final stages of the open surf race to record a dramatic win.

Bonnie also won five gold medals for the carnival and started Sunday in great style, winning the under-17 board race.

Later, however, she was upstaged by clubmate Russell in the coveted open board race.

The Sawtell pair proved too slick for their older rivals and were separated by only centimetres as Russell won the sprint up the beach to the finish line. The youngsters then joined forces with Zoe Bale and Sarah Tisdell to win the under-17 Cameron relay.

Russell finished her carnival with four gold medals.



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