Soapbox shortage threatens season

ALBANY Soapbox Club has offered to buy back soapbox racers from their owners as a shortage of the motorless vehicles threatens to dampen the start of the racing season.

Club President Larry Puls said the group, set to convene for its first meet of the year this Sunday, was “struggling” with the amount of soapboxes available for its members.

“In 2012, when we celebrated our 50th anniversary, there were 54 soapboxes at the championships and 28 of those were from Albany,” he said.

“Now we have nine of those left and 13 soapboxes all up. They’re something the Club really needs to have on display to show and teach newcomers about the sport.”

Soapboxes are typically made from aluminium or fibreglass and use gravity to propel down the racetrack, reaching speeds of between 80km/h and 100km/h.

The Australian National Soapbox Championships are held on Mount Clarence in Albany each year, with this year’s rendition taking place on April 11.

“Part of the reason we’re starting up registrations a little bit earlier than usual is the soapbox shortage,” Mr Puls said.

“Drivers need to have done three races before they can qualify to race in the championships.”

Mr Puls urged anyone with a soapbox “lying around in the shed or backyard” to consider selling it to the Club.

He also called on those aged six to 17 and curious about soapbox racing to sign up at the February 16 meet.

“It’s a different sport, it’s a fun sport,” Mr Puls said.

“It’s a sport where you don’t have to be athletic or know how to kick a ball, you just put your bum in a box and let gravity do the rest.”

Mr Puls can be contacted on 0439 395 860 or via email at albanysoapboxclub@gmail.com

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Para sailing pathway

A STATE sailing contest for people with a disability taking place in Albany this weekend could be an important stepping-stone for events like the Paralympics, according to its organiser.

Coordinator Mark Paynter said the Hansa WA Sailing Championships, being held at Princess Royal Sailing Club (PRSC) for the first time, could act as a “pathway” for sailors with a disability eager to compete internationally.

The Hansa 303 and slightly larger Hansa Liberty are the two types of vessels being used at the event and are specifically designed to suit those living with disability.

“Hansa are a class of boat that are sailed internationally, so if we can prepare our sailors for these, they’ve got an opportunity to not just sail down here but in competitions across Australia and the world,” Mr Paynter said.

“These craft are designed for confidence building and have a high level of stability, but still require skill to sail them.

“If sailing were to be re-introduced to the Paralympics, then probably the Hansa 303 would be the boats used.”

The sport has been officially discarded from the Paralympics in Tokyo this year.

Mr Paynter, who also heads PRSC’s decade-old Sailability program, noted sailing provided people with disability a chance to both engage with the sport and the broader community.

“This particular championship brings Sailability and other programs for people with disability into the mainstream, and that’s why it’s important,” Mr Paynter said.

“Through these, people develop the skills they need from qualified instructors.”

Sixteen participants from Perth and Albany are expected to compete this Saturday and Sunday, ranging in age from 12 to 84.

More information about the event and bi-weekly Sailability program can be found at prsc.com.au and on the Club’s Facebook page.

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Girl power skates on

TEENAGE girls with dreams of roller derby stardom will be well supported in Albany this year, with the town’s popular Skate Like a Girl program set to enter its third rendition next week.

More than 160 youngsters from Albany, Denmark, Mount Barker and Tambellup have participated in the skating, mental health and physical wellbeing program since it was first launched by Albany Roller Derby League two years ago.

This year it will expand to include roller derby specific skills and low to moderate contact derby drills with the view of preparing those keen to join a junior roller derby team or age up into the adult team in the future.

Albany Roller Derby League coach Julie “Stax” Byrne-King said she had been “blown away by the skill progression” of participants in previous terms.

“They learn so much faster than adults and new skills and drills each week keep them entertained,” she said.

“We had them learning jump transition, where they skate forward, jump and turn 180 degrees and land it to keep skating … and this is a skill many of the adults don’t manage for six months at least.”

Skate Like a Girl made headlines last June when it become one of only two groups around the world selected to receive a grant worth thousands.

Healthway funding for the program was due to expire at the end of 2019 before United States skating organisation Girls on Track Foundation (GOTF) chose to support the program from a list of more than 40 applicants.

GOTF’s Carla Smith said at the time the league was one of the strongest and most likely to have a wide impact.

“Their successful Skate Like a Girl program and their aspirations to grow it and reach lower income families fit with our organisation’s goals of expanding awareness of and access to roller derby for teenage girls,” she said.

The program will run for girls aged 12 to 17 from 5 – 6.30pm every Thursday, commencing February 13.

Registration details can be found online at albanyrollerderby.com.au

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Master blaster Crudeli saves day

CRICKET finally returned on Saturday after a long holiday hiatus and it showed, with a number of rusty performances but the usual suspects dominating.

Railways took on Denmark, who would want to forget 2019, losing the opening 10 games, and with zero points to show for the season thus far, what had they to lose?

And that is the attitude they came with after Railways won the toss and elected to bat – the score was soon 2-10 with both openers sent packing early.

The wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals with Railways 8/90 at one stage and looking like being dismissed for under triple figures.

But everywhere man Nathan Crudeli picked up exactly where he had left off before the break, smashing 73 off only 68 balls including three towering sixes.

He found a valuable ally in number 10 batsman Simon Harvey who made 17 runs and when Crudeli was last man out in the 38th over, Railways had managed to scramble to a competitive 147.

Bradley Stewart led the bowling attack with 3/37 while Graeme King, Aden Montague and Ben Attrill all took a couple of scalps.

Denmark started brightly and were 1/44 with opener Daniel Robson dominating proceedings and it looked like the Magpies would clock up their first win of the season.

But once Robson departed for a well-compiled 40, the flaky Denmark line-up collapsed to be all out for 101 in the 44th over, with Jarrad Fuller finishing with the amazing figures of 3/8 off 4.4 overs.

Over on Turf E, Collingwood Park won the toss and batted first and clearly their top-order had been working hard in the nets as they all had solid scores with the side finishing on 9/210 off their 50 overs.

The hard-hitting Nathan Dover, averaging more than 50 this season, smashed 76, Leroy Van Dan Dool was stumped on 48 and Nick Barrow made 37.

For Manypeaks, Paul ‘Burner’ Donaldson took 5/27 but the other bowlers, perhaps enjoying the festive break a little too much, rarely troubled the Parks’ batsmen.

Swashbuckling captain Aran Tilbury, in his eight games this season (when not in Bali), either makes a score in the teens or the forties but unfortunately is was the former this game as he was first out for 14.

The only bastman to make an impression was wicketkeeper Sebastian Stanton with 75 and the Peaks’ tail failed to wag and they were all out for 193 to lose only their second game of the year.

For the bowling side, Mathew Heberle was im- pressive with 4/35.

In the final game, an improving Mt Barker won their third game of the year, defeating Royals by 27 runs.

Opener Alexander Fergie held his wicket finishing with 77 not out, well supported by Clayton Wood with 53 not out.

Royals batted through their 50 overs but could not put the disciplined Barker bowling attack away, finishing with 9/163.

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Money for sports

ALBANY sport and recreation clubs received a significant boost to their coffers recently as part of Albany Community Bank’s pilot ‘Get in the Game’ raffle initiative.

Twenty sporting groups from across town raised a total $71,835 selling tickets for the raffle, with all proceeds going directly to the clubs.

The money will be used on items including new equipment and to support local sport programs, such as Albany Surf Life Saving Club’s nipper and youth sessions.

Bank Community Engagement Officer Lyn Lutley described the fundraiser as a success.

She said that the participating clubs eventually sold 14,367 of the 25,000 tickets printed by the bank.

“Sport and rec are always looking for money and support, they’re made up largely of volunteers,” Ms Lutley said.

“For the bank to be successful and deliver these sort of funding programs for areas of need, we need to build business within the community.”

The raffle draw on Friday was conducted by Branch Manager Natasha Thompson and South Stirling-born field hockey star Kathryn Slattery.

Ms Slattery told the gathering at the bank’s Centennial Park branch that it was always great to support local sport.

“I think it’s a great initiative from the bank and obviously I’m really happy to be involved in the program for this, picking out the names,” she said.

Arthur Gorman was the lucky winner of the first place $15,000 cash prize, while Mat Thompson, Denise Lucas, Eden Gray, Peter Muller and Linda Urry each received $1000 as runner-ups.

Albany Community Bank, a branch of Bendigo Bank, will host an information session regarding further sport and rec funding opportunities on March 26.

The organisation’s board is run by volunteers, with 80 per cent of its profits going back into the community.

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Pony club wins award for taking healthy way

ALBANY Pony Club have taken out top honours in a competition encouraging healthy lifestyles at pony clubs across the state.

The organisation was recognised for winning Healthway and Pony Club WA’s Go for 2&5 Canteen Competition at an award night earlier this month.

Tanya Sprigg, who has acted as Club Canteen Manager for the past two years, said she was “really, really happy” with the win and looking forward to seeing if the group could top it this year.

“We’re just trying to get the kids used to eating fresh and healthy food, especially because Albany has such great, local produce on offer,” she said.

“Kids eat so much junk food these days, there’s so much advertising on TV, and while that’s okay sometimes, most of the time you’ve got to bring out the healthy stuff.

“We’re trying to show them, as all schools are nowadays, that healthy food means a healthy body and a healthy mind.”

As part of the contest, clubs had to recreate dishes from a 2&5 cookbook sent out by competition organisers.

They also had to demonstrate how they implemented and plan to maintain healthy menu items.

Ms Sprigg said fruit and salad were popular at the canteen during the hot and dusty summer months, while nutritious soups accompanied “the easier stuff like pies” in winter.

Healthway CEO Susan Hunt PSM said the organisation and Pony Club WA worked to promote the benefits of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables daily.

“These competitions are fantastic ways to inform clubs about how to have a healthy lifestyle, while motivating them to create healthier environments for children and young people,” she said.

Albany Pony Club received 2&5 merchandise and a $250 supermarket gift card for its win.

Woodbridge Horse and Pony Club and Peel Metropolitan Horse and Pony Club placed second and third respectively.

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World Cup qualifiers for gliders

RADIO-CONTROLLED model gliders will take to the skies near Albany’s wind turbines this weekend as the city hosts team selections for the FAI F3F World Cup 2020.

Members from local glider club Southern Slope Soarers (SSS) will race enthusiasts from across Australia hoping to be drafted for the national team, set to compete at the world championship event in France later this year.

F3F refers to a specific division of model glider racing which involves unpowered gliders utilising sustained wind over sloped landscapes to gain speed.

SSS Secretary Steve Revel said the weekend event would mark the first time Albany held the team selection comp and was well worth checking out.

“Radio control soaring is a dynamic sport to watch because while everybody might think gliders are slow and graceful, these things are basically like the formula ones of gliders,” he said.

“The fastest radio controlled model planes are gliders. You’d expect something like a model jet to be quicker but they’re not.

“These can probably reach speeds of close to 200km/h on a good day.”

Only four of the more than a dozen people expected to compete in the February 2 racing event will be selected for the national squad.

Pilots will be required to navigate their gliders for 10 continuous laps over a 100m course, and will be scored based on the time it takes to complete these.

SSS President Glenn Twaddle, who has flown different variations of model planes for roughly 20 years, said F3F gliders could weigh anywhere between 1.5kg and more than 5kg.

He said they generally had wingspans of three metres and took some time to learn to control.

Mr Revel encouraged those interested in the idea of model gliders to get in contact with either the SSS or Albany Model Flyers Club.

“It’s not just about racing, it’s about meeting friends,” he said.

“It does take a while to get into, especially to travel at speed, but eventually you’re just floating around flying and enjoying yourself which is the best part.

“If the weather is nice, which it is most of the time, you’re standing up on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean in the sunshine, and that’s unbeatable.”

The sport’s Bay of Isles Cup, usually held in Esperance, will take place at Albany Wind Farm the day before selections.

While F3F Radio Control Soaring is widely considered a safe sport, an accident that killed a woman in Taiwan on November 2 sent shockwaves through the glider racing community.

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Magpies join league

IT WAS a simple Facebook post that kick-started the formation of one of the Great Southern Football League Women’s competition’s newest footy teams.

Personal trainer Amber Jeeves, eager to get on the field for the 2020 season, put out a call for like-minded women late last year and was surprised to find herself inundated with recruits.

Mere months later, players for the Denmark-Walpole Magpies women’s team are gearing up to play their first official match against Albany Sharks at Centennial Oval tomorrow night.

“I was super keen to get a women’s team up and running for Denmark-Walpole and it was great to have so many want to play,” Jeeves said.

“We’ve had heaps of training sessions and a couple of scratch matches and it has been great fun, but we can’t wait for the season to start.”

Since its formation, the team’s inaugural coach Jodie Hickey has been joined by assistant coaches Carl Heslop and Kelly Judd.

Mr Heslop said he had seen “impressive development” among both footballers and coaches over the pre-season.

The Magpies now form part of the pre-existing Denmark-Walpole Football Club (DWFC), which previously only had a men’s team in the GSFL.

DWFC President Kim Barrow said there was no hesitation welcoming the women’s team.

“Football is a part of the fabric of our community and a women’s team provides an opportunity for wider engagement, and obviously an opportunity for women to play and develop as footballers,” he said.

“It provides a pathway to the AFLW and hopefully we’ll see someone from Denmark Walpole drafted in the coming years.

“It is an exciting time for the club and we are looking forward to seeing the women’s team in action.”

The Magpies’ first home game against Mount Barker Bulls at McLean Oval on February 7 will function as a fundraiser for bushfire relief.

Entry to the match at 7:15pm will be by gold coin donation with all proceeds going to the Red Cross Bush Fire Appeal

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Blight triumphs over USA drivers

KATANNING speedway star Kye Blight dominated rounds three and four of the USA Invasion Late Model Tour at Albany Speedway Club’s Attwell Park on the weekend.

Having won the National Title last weekend, Blight would go on to claim all four of his heats and both features in which he lapped every car except his fellow podium place getters.

Courtesy of his two wins, Blight started the 40-lap final from pole and when they went green, used the clear track to set his fastest lap of the race and build a lead.

The field would be bought back under yel-lows a couple of times over the first part of the race with the last 27 laps running without a stoppage.

Over these laps Blight would decimate his opposition, passing the field with ease on his way to winning by more than 11 seconds.

During the feature, local hope Aydan Trewern started seventh and was on track for his best result in the Late Model, getting as high as third.

With about five laps to go the car started to ever so slightly smoke and, as he went to take the white flag, headed infield to retire from fourth.

The team decided to not risk the engine and do a full investigation and would sit the Sunday night out.

As everyone headed to the track for round four of the Invasion Tour, the question everyone was asking was; can Blight be stopped?

Just like the previous night, current Western Australian champion Brent Vosbergen won both of his races to share the front row with Blight.

The start of this 40-lap final would go slightly different to the previous night with Blight and Vosbergen making contact in turn two with Vosbergen slipping back to fifth while Blight pulled away from American Joe Godsey.

By lap six Vosbergen had climbed back to third and would sit there behind Godsey until lap 25 with the pair trading places over the next five laps until Vosbergen broke clear.

With 17 of the 18 cars who started the night making it onto the track for the feature, there was plenty of action across the track and back mark- ers for Blight to contend with, which he did with ease once again.

Blight would cross the line by more than 11 seconds again in a race that went from green to checkers without a stoppage to claim his sixth feature win in a row from Vosbergen and Godsey.

At the end of the four rounds, Blight had amassed 471 points which is just three off the maximum available across the series to take the title by 40 points from Warren Oldfield and Godsey.

Across the two nights the Junior and Senior Formula 125’s had valuable track time ahead of their state title next month with current junior state champion Jasmin Ellis taking the win while in the seniors Sam Jewell (Saturday) and Nathen Tester (Sunday) claimed the wins.

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King/Riggall crowned champs

THE Albany Open Tennis Championships held over the weekend at the Emu Point Tennis Club served up one of the most amazing finishes ever seen.

The winning team were well behind the leaders after two rounds however, such was the format that a big win can turn things around in the blink of an eye, and that’s exactly what happened.

Lawley Park duo Sam Graham and Nelson Stanborough went into their final round robin match against Craig Doney and Chris Wright needing a cricket score to overturn a big deficit to make the final, and they did so with a resounding 9-4 victory.

The final against the undefeated team of Eric Rae and Geoff Stade was a classic that went down to the wire with Graham and Stanborough sneaking home 6-5 to take the title.

In their victory speech it was suggested that maybe they had ‘done a Bradbury’, in reference to Olympic hero Steven Bradbury who simply sat back and waited for the leaders to make a mistake or two.

A Grade Women’s Doubles winners Clare King and Alexandra Riggall have no doubt heard of their father John Pugh’s tennis exploits that has inspired them to play a brand of tennis which has now netted them consecutive Albany Open titles.

Going through the day undefeated, King and Riggall won the final convincingly against Annette Cake and Diane Cook 9-1.

In the Women’s B Grade final, the pairing of Bec Jefferis and Lynda James proved too strong for Ala Wrobel and Fran Stamp with a hard fought 7-3 victory.

John Pugh made it through to the Men’s B Grade Doubles final with Greg Cook where they took on youngsters Michael Swarbrick and Luke Bairstowe.

Despite a brave showing from two of the region’s elder sporting statesmen, they were no match for Swarbrick and Bairstowe who took the match and title 9-3.

Mixed Doubles has a way of testing friendships, relationships and marriages alike and in the case of Clare and Travis King it was oh so close to a potential second honeymoon for the two.

Mixed Doubles specialist Richard Piggott and Hermiene Tyler reversed a 5-6 round robin loss to the Kings with a thrilling 6-5 win in the final of the A Grade in a high-quality match in difficult conditions.

Despite a strong afternoon sea breeze that tested even the most seasoned campaigners, it produced some brilliant tennis and the B Grade final was just as enthralling.

Youngster Mackenzie Thompson carried her father Paul through to a nail biting 5-4 win against Michelle Cook and Greg ‘Duck’ Hill who finished on top of the table after the round robin stage.

Shot of the tournament goes to Kazim Khap, a regular at the Albany Open, for a ‘tweener’ (between the legs) winner that Roger F would have been proud of.

Outstanding Kazim.

Thanks go to Club Curator Ian MacMillan for preparing the courts for not only the Open but throughout the season.

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