News straight from Eloura Surf Club, Boat Captain & Sweep, Mr Grant Wilkinson.
“In November 2017 we took possession of the Charlotte Breen X. To think that a sponsor has had a relationship with a surf club for almost 50yrs is remarkable and to have donated a total of 10 boats over that time is an extraordinary achievement. The Charlotte Breen X quickly became our “go to” boat. Every crew that rowed her had immediate success and there was something about the “X” that gave everyone more confidence.
The Trans Tasman Surf Boat Test Series was conducted on our home beach of Elouera as part of the 2018 Australian Surf Rowers League “Australian Open Championships” (ASRL Open). The Elouera girls, with the green and gold on their backs and with friends and family on the beach watching felt the weight of expectation. Whatever pressure they felt though was nothing compared to the support they must have felt from everyone including Tom Breen who came down to wish our crew all the best before racing commenced. With Tom, club mates, friends and family pushing them along the girls took a clean sweep of the international series 3-0 winning every race against NZ by more than a wave. Showing the true spirit of Elouera, the NZ Open Women and NZ Under 23 Women’s crew were forced to borrow boats for racing and Elouera offered up the other boats in our fleet. This demonstration of true sportsmanship from Elouera meant that the Charlotte Breen VIII (NZ U23), Charlotte Breen IX (NZ Open) and Charlotte Breen X (Aust Open) all lined up next to each other on the start line. To have the three latest Charlotte Breen’s being used in international competition side by side was extraordinary and for Tom be there to witness it must have filled him with immense pride.
Once normal racing at the ASRL Open resumed, Elouera’s Open Women went back into the main competition to race for their club along with our Reserve Grade Men’s crew. Both crew managed to make the finals in testing conditions with both crews just finishing out of the medals in fourth position. From here, our next target was the NSW State Championships where both crews had their sights set on winning gold for Elouera. The NSW State campaign started with a gold medal in the 120yrs+ masters men’s crew being victorious. Not to be outdone, the Reserve Men and Open Women started the competition in good form which only got better. In the end, the Reserve Men were exceptionally unlucky but came away with a bronze medal whilst the Open Women brought home Elouera’s first ever NSW State Open Surf Boat gold medal. Three crews, three medals – the X had done it again!
From here we moved onto the big one, the Australian Championships which were held at Scarborough Beach in Perth. In very trying conditions the Open Women were one of the favoured crews but unfortunately were knocked out in the semi-finals. The Reserve Men had an outstanding competition and finals day saw them win every race leading into the final. After being hit on the most southern end of the start line by a number of waves the men rowed themselves back into contention hitting the turning buoys in a straight line with the other five crews. Seeing their chance to make history, the men seized the opportunity and showed incredible mental and physical strength to pull away from the field and eventually hit the beach in first place winning Elouera’s first ever Australian Championship Surf Boat gold medal.
The Charlotte Breen had done it! She had successfully looked after her crews and seen three very important firsts for the great club of Elouera. Our first Australian representative crew, our first NSW State Open gold medal and our first Australian Championships gold medal. For Elouera, to have a sponsor support a community group continuously for 49yrs seeing generation after generation of surf boat rowers go to sea in one of ten Charlotte Breen’s is something were are both extremely proud of and grateful for. Tom’s personal emails to our successful athletes this year clearly shows this is more than just a mere “sponsorship” and we are hopeful that next season will see the “X” continue on her winning ways with more firsts for Elouera SLSC.”