My Beach

Meet our 2019 Surf Sports Team of the Year

The U23 Male Surf Boat team from North Cottesloe SLSC, comprised of Jack Varney, James Walsh, Matthew Mann and Henry Gillett, have been rowing together since high school. Now guided by their sweep, David Hunt, the crew has blossomed into a force to be reckoned with, and not just in WA having recently won gold at the World Life Saving Championships.

We asked the crew to share with us some insights about their team, as well as their Surf Life Saving journeys. Read on for their responses below.

How long have you all known each other? We (Jack, James, Matthew and Henry) have been friends for a very long time! All attending the same high school, we became friends down at the Scotch Boatshed in Year 8. In Year 9, we rowed in the same quad scull, as seen in the photo above, and this arguably kick-started our passion for rowing. Dave joined the crew in 2015 when he became our team sweep.

How often do you train as a team? Usually around six to seven times per week, where we try to complete a mixture of on-water and dry training (ergo/gym etc).

Do you have any team rituals before a competition? Our team ritual before most races is to enjoy a coffee and a muffin at the Little Sup Café in Cottesloe, while awaiting a call from Dave, stressing about us not being at the beach getting set up to race five hours before the event is scheduled to begin.

What is your most memorable team moment? Our most memorable team moment was winning gold at the World Life Saving Championships, there is no greater feeling than winning a world title alongside your best mates. The after-party post-win was also filled with countless memories.

The team winning gold at the World Life Saving Championships

Was was the whole team initially from North Cottesloe SLSC? No, Dave started his surf lifesaving journey in 1984 at Trigg Island, at just 17 years of age, before moving to North Cottesloe SLSC in 2006, where he later met, Jack, James, Matthew and Henry.

James joined North Cottesloe in 2014 after he finished high school, he then convinced Jack, Matt and Henry to join, and the old high school row crew was able to get back together.

What animal best represents your team and why? Sloths… We struggle waking up in the mornings.

Growing up, where was your local beach? Dave grew up in country NSW, five-hours away from the beach by car, so, unfortunately, he didn’t get to visit often.

The rest of us grew up living in Cottesloe and Mosman Park districts and grew up on Cottesloe and Grant Street Beach.

How has Surf Life Saving shaped who you are today? Surf Life Saving has made us very team orientated and driven. Being part of a boating team has taught us to make a compromise and find common ground in pursuit of a common goal.

The culture down at North Cottesloe is incredible, we’ve all made lifelong friends and it’s become a huge part of our lives. It is awesome to be able to do our part for the community, compete at a high level and surround ourselves with great people. We’re all extremely keen to get stuck into it again in a few months.

What is your favourite date on the SLSWA calendar? SLSWA State Championships – always a great weekend and culmination of a large block of training.

What is your go-to team meal? When we’re travelling – nothing beats a good chicken parmi.

2019 Surf Life Saving WA Awards of Excellence