Cudgen Headland’s surfboat crew, from left, Mick O’Brien, Doug Fentrell, Rob Blyth, Jim Blakeney and sweep Mark Buckman warm up for the Masters State SLS Championships, and inset, the crew with an image of fallen comrade, sapper Rowan Robinson.
Cudgen Headland’s surfboat crew, from left, Mick O’Brien, Doug Fentrell, Rob Blyth, Jim Blakeney and sweep Mark Buckman warm up for the Masters State SLS Championships, and inset, the crew with an image of fallen comrade, sapper Rowan Robinson.

Host club is hungry for gold

THE Cudgen Headland masters surfboat crew won't be just making up the numbers at the Allphones Masters State Surf Life Saving Championships at Fingal Beach today; they will be going all out for gold.

The masters, and open events which start tomorrow, will be spread across three venues.

The surfboats will be based at Fingal, the water events 2km north of the clubhouse, while the beach events will be held on the southern end of Kingscliff Beach.

Driving the Cudgen competitors will be the memory of a departed comrade - sapper Rowan Robinson who was killed in action in Afghanistan last June. The Cudgen boat carries his photo as a reminder.

The decade-long war claimed 11 lives in 2011 and the impact on the Cudgen Headland SLSC club has been profound.

"He rowed for us and spent some of his rec leave in my home," Cudgen sweep Mark "Bucko" Buckman said of Robinson.

Meanwhile in the battle on the water, Buckman cited Evans Head as the crew most likely to stand between his 160-years-plus crew and a gold medal.

"We're not just going to be going around for the fun of it, we'll be going for gold," Buckman said.

"Evans Head has great crews and we've had some good battles."

Both clubs have tasted success in recent years with Cudgen collecting gold at the Queensland state titles in 2010, beating off Evans Head's challenge.

One of Cudgen's secret weapons is former Dixon Park gold medallist Robert Bligh.

Bligh, a former rugby union player with the Warringah Rats, rowed for the Newcastle-based club at Cape Hawke, near Foster, in the 1989 state titles.

Dixon Park came from behind to win the gold medal and in the process deflated the egos of North Cronulla who were short-priced favourites to win the open boat final.

The masters' water and beach events commence at 8am with the first gun to go at 9am in the surfboat arena.



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