PORT Macquarie ski paddler Paige Leishman hopes to make an impression at this weekend’s Surf Life Saving Country Championships.
The 16-year-old had success at last year’s event where she finished first in the swim, but will try her luck in the ski paddle – a new event – at South West Rocks.
She will compete for Cudgen Headland instead of Port Macquarie and admitted she would have preferred to make her mark with the local club.
“If I had it my way I’d be here competing for Port, but it’s just that there are more opportunities up there,” she said.
“There are a limited number of positions so in order to gain teams, we need to go elsewhere.
“I train with a lot of the Port kids and they’re really good. I’m aiming for a top five finish.”
She has been training under the watchful eye of Mel Cockshutt who said it grew the event to have more competitors across more clubs.
“I’d love for her to race for Port Macquarie, but I think it helps the event in the long run (to compete for another club),” she said.
Cockshutt is one of numerous coaches who share their knowledge with the teenager who she expects to perform well this weekend.
They will both take an interest in the prevailing weather conditions.
“If it’s a flat paddle she probably won’t do as well, but if there are a few waves it opens the field up a bit,” Cockshutt said.
“Paige has always had that natural ability and I think she’ll do well; she may even surprise us.”
Paige has always had that natural ability and I think she’ll do well; she may even surprise us.Mel Cockshutt
The key to Leishman medalling at the event in the ski paddle discipline could be at the start.
“Balance is one of Paige’s strengths because she has the ability to get in and get out really quick,” she said.
“If you fall off, it takes so long to turn the ski over and climb back in and then you’re playing catch up.”
Port Macquarie Surf Life Saving Club finished in fourth position at last year’s event and Cockshutt was hopeful of a repeat performance.
“We hope as a whole that Port Macquarie go well and I think we will,” Cockshutt said.
Other Hastings competitors expected to perform well this weekend include Ty-Jesse Brabant, Jesse Hiatt, Tahj Thrower, Jaidyn Rossiter, Harry and Finn Askew and Fleur Sherlock.