Teams from NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania all lined up for the first Interstates Championships since before the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020.
The Australian Interstate Championships see the states’ best battle it out in Ironman and Ironwoman racing, surf swimming races, board races, ski races, beach flags, beach sprint and relay events, with State pride on the line.
Battling the choppy wave conditions and strong winds of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs across Pathways (U14-15), Youth (U17) and Open age divisions, NSW were named Overall Champions, holding onto the trophy they’ve kept since 2018.
NSW Captain Sam Zustovich (Mollymook), who won the Open Men’s Beach Flags, and placed third in the Beach Sprint and Mixed Beach Relay, said he was really proud of his team’s efforts.
“To bring the Interstates trophy home again it’s such a great feeling, getting the win over Queensland has always been a big thing in this competition, so that’s awesome,” he said.
“We all kept our heads up, kept pushing through and to get this result today is really good. I can’t thank our coaches and management team enough, and all the other athletes that showed up today and put in all the hard work.”
NSW’s Noah Steiner won the Men’s Open Ironman event, with Nutri Grain Ironmen Jackson Borg (Newport, NSW) and Cooper Williams (Alexandra Headland, QLD) in second and third respectively, competing for the third straight day after round three and four of the Nutri Grain series over the weekend.
Steiner said it was great to work with his NSW teammate in the event, which is a change of scenery from the individual Ironman battles he’s used to.
“I was prepared for it to hurt a little bit, but it was good to go into the swim and the ski leg with Borgy [Jackson Borg] and we worked off each other, it’s good competition here,” said Steiner, who was also a member of the winning Open Mixed Surf Team and Open Mixed Taplin, and placed second in the Men’s Open Surf Race, Board Race and Open Mixed Board Relay.
“It’s super different [competing as a team], giving each other room around the cans, and all the little things which we sort of look over in normal Ironman racing and it makes this a really fun event.”
The Maggs brothers made it a NSW triple across the other Men’s Ironman events, with 17-year-old Nutri Grain Ironman Connor Maggs (Newport) winning the Youth event, and his younger brother Noah (Newport) winning the Pathways event.
Connor Maggs said that he’s fortunate to have recovered well from the weekend’s Nutri Grain Series and was happy to get the points for NSW.
“I pulled up quite okay actually, a bit stiff after two days, but I’m still quite young, so wind us up and let us go,” he laughed.
“But super tough racing down here… The transitions are super long with a bit of a hill up the beach, so I just tried to work out a good transition and I’m just trying to put my best foot forward for the team.”
As well as finishing second in the Ironman, Borg won the Open Men’s Surf Ski, placed third in the Open Men’s Surf Race and picked up two firsts and a second place alongside his NSW teammates in relay events.
Following the weekend’s Nutri Grain series, Borg said it’s really important to him to represent the state that gave him his start in the sport.
“It’s super important to me to be able to represent my state, NSW Surf Life Saving has given so much to me, and I want to try and let the young kids know that you can stay in NSW and compete in the Iron series,” Borg said after his Ski victory.
“That was tough out there, you’ve got the best paddlers from each state out there, it’s short and it’s fast, not really my style of racing, but I love to be out here.”
NSW’s biggest rivals from north of the border pushed the home state the entire day. While NSW won the Overall title and the Youth championships, it was QLD that were the top placed state in the Open and Pathways events.
Following her impressive fourth and eighth place, Nutri Grain Iron Series results over the weekend, Ironwoman Tiarnee Massie (Maroochydore) competed in seven Interstate events, winning the Open Ironwoman, Female Board Race, Open Mixed Board Relay and Open Mixed Surf Relay.
Massie said she was stoked to open her Interstates campaign with a win in the Board Race and to be supporting her state as QLD Co-Captain, alongside Jett Kenny.
“It was tough, Interstates is always so close, and it comes down to the wire for points, it’s always so special to be chosen as captain, it’s a massive honour for me.”
Following on from three days of intense competition in the Super Surf Teams League, Kenny had an incredible day for QLD, finishing first in the Male Board, Open Mixed Board Relay, Open Mixed Beach Relay and Open Mixed Ski Relay, plus second in the Open Mixed Taplin and third in the Men’s Open Ski.
He said that it’s been a tough few days of racing, but it’s a great experience leading into Aussies in March.
“My legs and hips are shot, not just from racing in Super League but handling in the Nutri Grain Iron Series as well… but it’s a good warm up for Aussies really, which goes for five days and four days of racing,” he said.
“Team racing is the one everyone wants to do, representing not only my branch on the Sunny Coast but also my state QLD.”
Making her debut for the QLD Pathways team, Britt Ackerley (Maroochydore) was stoked with her victory in the Women’s Pathway Board Race, which ended in a sprint finish alongside her teammate Bianca Rayward.
“I’ve been in the QLD team for the past two years, but we’ve never had a chance to race [due to COVD], so to have a win in my first-year competing is so great!” she said
“As I was coming in, there were a few other girls on the wave so it was a bit touch and go and that sprint finish was horrible, the sand was so soft I could barely move my legs, so I was so stoked! Plus my friend [Rayward] got second and she is from QLD too, so it’s great for the team.”
The 2023 Australian Interstate Championships for the first time included the three teams and categories: Open, Youth and Pathways with medals awarded for each category as well as the overall winners.
To view photos from today, click here.
Overall point score: 1. New South Wales (255); 2. Queensland (243); 3. Western Australia (166); 4. Victoria (148); 5. South Australia (130); 6. Tasmania (65)
Open point score: 1. Queensland (90); 2. New South Wales (89); 3. Western Australia (58); 4. South Australia (53); 5. Victoria (47); 6. Tasmania (20)
Youth point score: 1. New South Wales (91); 2. Queensland (76); 3. Western Australia (59); 4. Victoria (56); 5. South Australia (48); 6. Tasmania (26)
Pathways point score: 1. Queensland (77); 2. New South Wales (75); 3. Western Australia (49); 4. Victoria (45); 5. South Australia (29); 6. Tasmania (19).