Fresh start for Papamoa Surf Club

It’s all action for (from left) Jake Cowdrey, Chas Clarke and Jack Bullock as they get the lifeguards ready for the summer. Photo: John Borren.

Papamoa Surf Club’s lifeguard training is going to undergo a shake-up this season with three new coaches joining the crew.

Chas Clarke, Jake Cowdrey and Jack Bullock hope the revamp will grow faster, fitter and stronger lifeguards.

Club chairperson Angela Hayden says fitness is absolutely essential when it comes to saving lives, particularly with high volumes of beachgoers at Papamoa last patrol season.

The beach had more than 16,487 visitors last season, running from Labour Weekend 2018 to Easter 2019.

Chas, who officially started as head coach last week, says he wants to put a new spin on training to help the club "find their feet”.

With Chas' background in sports science, clubbies can expect increased functional training inside and outside of the gym.

"There will be more core work and bodywork - starting to integrate more off-water exercise to complement their work on the water," he says.

He reiterates it's not just about "hitting the beach,” but supplementing those skills with other exercises.

"I want to spice it up, bring something completely different to the table. The club is really open to it so, having that support from them is great."

Chas is the owner of Alliance Crossfit in Papamoa and has previously worked with IronMan athletes.

He will be working with the 16-and-up group, alongside longtime member Jake who has stepped in as assistant senior coach.

Despite Chas not having a background in lifesaving, Jake says he will bring water safety management skills to the training programme.

"I have been involved since I was five, worked my way up the ranks to where I am today. I have trained, competed and am an active lifeguard," says Jake.

"Now I am just giving back to the club, doing what I can to help out and pass my knowledge on to our younger athletes."

Papamoa Surf Club have saved 679 lives since 2001 and last season they carried out 5362 lifeguard hours.

Newly appointed junior head coach Jack says his mission for the summer is to help keep numbers up within the younger age group.

“At the same time, we need to get good performance out of kids, and make sure they are having a good time.”

Both Jack and Jake agree the younger athletes are “absolutely awesome, and here for the right reasons”.

“It’s about being able to give back to the community as a lifeguard, volunteering your time to keep everyone safe,” says Jake.

Life member Ailsa Cowdrey says high lifeguard fitness is crucial.

“At the end of the day, we are here as volunteers to look after the public. Our training and sports programmes keep young people fit and engaged in the community,” she says.

All three coaches say the club is “family-oriented” and that the transition into their roles so far has been cruisy.

“We have been down here for years now, seeing each other every night of summer. It’s awesome energy, just good vibes all around,” says Jack.

According to Chas, seniors were slightly shocked by the physical intensity after their first training with him last week but embraced it nonetheless.

The seniors are gearing up for surf lifesaving endurance race Mount Monster in December, then will continue to train hard for Nationals next year.

“We have so much coming with the new clubrooms and myself coming into the club. It’s been a huge shift, and a new slate to start from,” says Chas.

Construction on the new $5.2m clubrooms is set to start at the end of this year and the current building will be demolished mid-December.

The 28-year-old building is fit to hold about 200 people, but the club now has over 800 members.

Angela says construction over summer will not impact surf life-saving services. They hope to be running patrols out of their new building next summer.