WAUCHOPE-Bonny Hills' surfboat crews couldn't help but feel inspired by 82-year-old clubmate George Fowler at last weekend's NSW surf life saving championships at Blacksmiths Beach.
Fowler replicated his silver medal efforts at the world championships in Adelaide from two years ago with another two silver medals in the sand events.
He just missed out on gold in the beach flags and beach sprint events before attention then turned to the water.
Surfboat sweep Steve Monaghan said the club's under-23 women's and open men's crews then mixed it with the best the state had to offer.
"We were really inspired by George; it's amazing to watch how old these guys are and what they do," he said.
The open men's crew missed out on qualifying for the final on Sunday by the barest of margins when they found themselves on the same wave as the highly-fancied Bulli, Batemans Bay and Newport crews.
"Three boats all crossed the line together and there would have been millimetres in it, but the line judge gave us fourth," Monaghan said.
"First place was on the wave in front.
"They grew in confidence over the weekend; I can't remember any country crew in this area doing that well at the state titles.
"It's the best performance by a local crew in open men's for I would say 20 or 30 years."
The women's under-23 crew competed at their first state title event and finished the weekend ranked ninth in the state.
"They were really testing conditions down there," Monaghan said.
"There was a massive shore dump on the second bank so you had a choice of getting cleaned up on the way out or on the way in.
"We bombed out in the second semi-final, but got off to a flying start (in most races).
"The bigger crews just ran them down and everyone was saying these girls are ones to watch in the under-23s.
"We were by far the youngest crew."
Monaghan said it was another learning experience for the girls who are still learning race consistency.
"They still have to put together complete races and row as hard as they possibly can; there's no comfort zone so it hurts all the way," he said.
"But when it starts hurting you've got to bust through that pain. That's the level you have to get to and you have to start training for it.
"We're starting to put our heads together to think of ways we can do that."
Wauchope-Bonny Hills' overall campaign started off well with their two masters crews finishing with silver and bronze medals respectively.
"Our reserve grade men's crew also competed well and were unlucky with a few waves not to qualify for finals day on Sunday," Monaghan said.
All crews will have a weekend off before they head to the next round of the North Coast Surfboat Series at Crescent Head on March 21.
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