Surf Life Saving Australia has confirmed Queensland Gold Coast beaches North Kirra and Tugun will host the 2013 Australian Championships from April 15-21, following a decision to shift the event from Kurrawa Beach, scene of two deaths in competition the past three years.
Matthew Barclay, 14, drowned during the Under 14 board race in March. Two years earlier Saxon Bird died at the same beach and Kurrawa boat crew member Robert Gatenby died there in 1996.
SLSA said North Kirra will be the primary venue for the water, craft and beach events, while Tugun will host the surf boat competition. It is anticipated that all finals, including surf boats, will be held at North Kirra.
SLSA CEO Brett Williamson said the decision was made following thorough risk assessments of all possible Gold Coast venues and extensive consultation with key stakeholders.
“On June 1 2012 a review team consisting of athletes, Australian Surf Rowing League representatives, prominent coaches, key officials, experienced local surf lifesavers, Gold Coast lifeguards and SLSA staff met to discuss issues relating to venues and dates for the 2013 Australian Championships,” Williamson said in a statement.
“A number of possible Gold Coast-based venues were assessed and from this, it was decided that North Kirra and Tugun were the venues most suitable.
“We are confident that both North Kirra and Tugun will provide the beach, facilities, infrastructure and favourable surf conditions to successfully host the Australian Championships.
“SLSA is grateful for the support and cooperation from both the Gold Coast City Council and Events Queensland in facilitating this change,” said Williamson. “We are also appreciative of the understanding and support of the local community. We are certainly mindful of the impact that hosting the Championships can have, and we will do everything we can to mitigate any disruption to their day-to-day lives.
SLSA has also confirmed the dates for the 2014 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, with Scarborough Beach in Western Australia set to host the event from 31 March to 6 April.