SURF Life Saving Queensland has backflipped on a decision to hold its state championship at a Gold Coast beach where three competitors lost their lives.

The board of directors overturned the decision to hold the event at Kurrawa Beach in March, 2021 after a meeting last week, citing the impact on victims' families, safety issues and the suitability of other venues.

The beach has not hosted a major competition since Sunshine Coast teenager Matthew Barclay died in a board race during the Australian titles in 2012.

Robert Gatenby, 15, (1996) and Saxon Bird, 19, (2010) also died during competitions.

In a statement on Monday, Surf Life Saving Queensland said it was focused on its members and their families and said the decision to change the venue was due to several factors.

 

 

Steve Barclay, the father of Matthew Barclay, at Kurrawa Beach.
Steve Barclay, the father of Matthew Barclay, at Kurrawa Beach.

"The Board was conscious of the impact the decision to hold the titles at the venue may have on the families of Saxon Bird, Robert Gatenby and Matthew Barclay who lost their lives at Kurrawa during competition," the statement said.

"It is out of respect for the memory of these young men and the unfortunate circumstances that so tragically took their young lives.

 

 

Robert Gatenby, who died at Kurrawa Beach during the Aussie Titles in 1996
Robert Gatenby, who died at Kurrawa Beach during the Aussie Titles in 1996

"That in certain environmental conditions the nature of the surf and weather at Kurrawa poses too great a risk for the safety of competitors.

"Other venues are more suitable for the above reasons and others including geographical, previous venue utility and Local Council approvals."

 

 

Saxon Bird, who died at Kurrawa in 2010.
Saxon Bird, who died at Kurrawa in 2010.

Surf Life Saving Queensland said the decision to announce Kurrawa as the venue without the "board having the opportunity to consider such an important decision" was due to an "administrative oversight".

Last month, Surf Life Saving Queensland defended the decision to hold the competition at Kurrawa Beach.

A new venue will be decided in the coming months.

Originally published as SLSQ backflip on deadly state championship venue


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