Unlike the northern beaches where a series of disasters and mass rescues made the establishment of surf lifesaving clubs a necessity, the early days of Fremantle were characterised by a number of false starts beginning in 1932.
It wasn’t until 1935 that the club took a permanent place at Leighton Beach. The reputation of a “safe” beach and lack of disasters contributed to the slow start of the club and a continual struggle to expand membership. The membership was drawn predominantly from the working class of the North Fremantle and Fremantle districts. Through World War II and after, Leighton Surf Lifesaving Club struggled to gain members, the patrols and club administration falling to a dedicated few. This forged a strong camaraderie within the club, which has continued to this day.
The club has a close connection with WWII, through the donation from the crew of HMAS Sydney II, stationed at Fremantle, of a surf reel and a trophy replica made whilst serving in the Mediterranean. All lives were lost when the Sydney was lost on 19th November 1941. The club has run the HMAS Sydney II Reel event each year since 1941.
Lochyer Cottman became our first Australian Champion, winning the Junior Surf Belt Race at Southport Beach, Queensland in 1947.
A Ladies Auxillary began in 1945, with girlfriends and wives raising funds for buildings and equipment
In 1958, Port beach became accessible to the public through the re-routing of traffic along a new coast road. Largely through the efforts of some employees of the Port Authority, Port Surf Lifesaving Club was formed in 1958. The patrolling boundaries were; Port: from Rous Head to Angus Street; Leighton Surf Lifesaving Club: from Angus Street to the Cable Station.
Leighton – the Sixties
The sixties heralded a new prosperous and rewarding future for the Club. With the uncertainty of the beach foreshore development resolved, new Clubrooms built, a new Juvenile section created, and the start of the “Golden Years” of the Club with the first of many of the blue riband event, the Senior R&R Championships won in 1968, the Club’s future was firmly established.
In 1962, the Club moved into a new clubhouse, built by the Fremantle Harbour Trust with a building from the wharf, and located near the current Surf Club hub. Previously, the Leighton Clubrooms were 500 metres north – more towards the middle of the bay.
The new Clubrooms saw an increase in membership, more active members for patrol and an overall stronger Club on the beach. State Champions in 1962 were the Senior Surf Boat C Crew, Ray Allen (Cadet Beach Sprint) and Bill Pettitt (State Junior Lifesaver).
We also saw the beginning of a Juvenile Surf Club for boys between 10 and 14 years in the 1961/62 season (instigated by David Blackley). Some 100 boys joined and under the guidance of John McDonald and assistance from club stalwarts David Blackley, Bill Summers, Ian (Garth) Lawrence etc the Juvenile section thrived with instruction in swimming, beach events, resuscitation, reel and line work and elementary first aid. Such was the strength of this group, that they won the only carnival between 6 clubs in their first year, and repeated the win the following year. The Juvenile section maintained numbers between 80 and 150 members throughout the decade, and in 1967, the first official Juvenile State Championships were held at Leighton beach.
The Ladies competition section was formed in 1962-63, enjoying almost instant success. Members, Lyn McClements (later McKenzie) and Lyn Watson (later Bates), went on to represent Australia at Olympic and Empire (ie Commonwealth) Games. Lyn McClements won the 100m Butterfly at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, and Lyn Watson won 4 gold medals (100 and 200m backstroke, and 4x100m Medley and Freestyle Relays) at the Edinburgh Commonwealth games in 1970, and both won a silver medal in the 4x100m Medley Relay at the Mexico Olympics. On the home front, Lyn Watson was the State Champion in the Surf Race and Surf Teams in the Surf Lifesaving Ladies Competition in 1969.
In 1963, the Club had its best performance at the State Championships in almost a decade. The Junior boat crew swept by Peter Thornett (crew Colin Moysey, Ralph Hoger, David Leaman and Kevin Nettleton) were the State Champions after going through the season undefeated. George Booth was the Beach Flags Champion (then the Musical Flags event) – our first Beach Flags champion. The March Past, coached by David Blackley and Bill Summers, won their first State Title, and the Cadet R&R won their first ever title (and were to win again the following 2 years in 1964 and 1965).
The Leighton Club has always been innovative in Surf Lifesaving, and in 1963 an American made foam rubber torpedo lifeguard (tube) was obtained and successfully tested by Club member Ralph Buffham. This occurred over a decade before the Rescue Tube was officially sanctioned by Surf Lifesaving Australia.
In 1965, the Club won the coveted NSW trophy – 30 years since the Club won the inaugural trophy in 1935. After a perfect draw (Ian Mansfield (patient) and Michael Cook (beltman) – two of the top swimmers along the coast drawing the swim sections of the R&R) the team blitzed the field. Other members of the team were Larry Tilbury (1st linesman), Ian Hempsall (reelman), Ian Turner (2nd linesman) and Ray Carter (3rd linesman) and coach Cliff Bridle. At the State Titles our beach sprinters won the Junior Beach Relay.
The Aussies were held in WA in 1965, and the Club made a bold decision to purchase a near new boat from Dee Why following the titles for 550 pounds– a purchase that put the Clubs finances into the red! However, this was a major boost for the surf boat arena, and the following year, in 1966, the Club won the Junior Surf Boat Championship. Crew members were Bill Freeman (sweep), Ian Turner, Alan Meheux, Larry Tilbury and Colin Duffield. The boat arena continue to thrive, and were highly competitive throughout the remainder of the decade.
The latter part of the decade saw the start of the “Golden Years” for the Leighton Club. In 1968 the Club won the blue ribbon event, the Senior R&R (and hence Champion Club) – the first time ever. The R&R team was Cliff Bridle, Ian Mansfield, Kevin Holtom, Michael Cook, Alex McKenzie and Allan Edwards. The R&R team won the State Title again in 1969, and also won a silver medal at the Aussies in Tasmania, being just pipped for first place. These two wins were the start of a great run for the R&R team, and they won a further 5 titles in the 70’s.
The Leighton Swim Team was dominant over these years. Michael Cook won the Open Surf Race in 1967 and 1969, Ian Mansfield won the Junior Belt Race in 1967, and they both combined with Alex McKenzie and Allan Edwards to win the Open Surf Teams in 1968. Garry McKeon also won the Junior Surf Race in 1968. The Leighton Open Surf Team came third at the Aussies in 1969. Over this time, many of the swim team were members of the WA State Team, including Michael Cook (1965, 66, 67, 68 & 69), Ian Mansfield (1967, 68, 69), Alex McKenzie (1967, 68) and Jeremy Allan (1969).
The last year of the decade 1969, was the most successful competition year in the history of the Club since 1935. Apart from the R&R and Open Surf Race wins, the March Past team, coached by David Blackley, won the State Championships. Such was Leighton’s overall competitive strength, they were only 1 point short of winning the Senior aggregate points trophy.
During the sixties, three life members were inducted into the Leighton Club – Ivan Anderton (1961), David Blackley (1963) and William (Bill) Freeman (1963)
Throughout the club history, we have been innovative. In the 1971-72 season the club first tested and used the first IRB on patrols. Leighton was also the first Australian Surf Lifesaving club to have a Licensed Bar (1973) as a means to raising funds.
In 1976 the Leighton and Port Clubs amalgamated to form the Fremantle Surf Lifesaving Club, with the responsibility for patrolling 4 km of coastline, the longest in Western Australia. The club rooms, based at Leighton Beach, were built in stages, with the main hall and kitchen/office facilities completed in 1977.
The long coastline was patrolled in 1977-78 by a mobile (“roving”) system, with 2-way radios and more recently, the use of a 4-wheel drive vehicle has increased the effectiveness of patrols.
For a club with a small membership, we have been very successful in both State and Australian competition. Members have been particularly strong in beach and surf boat events, starting with the win in Australian Beach Flag in 1976.
Fremantle – the Eighties
Our first full decade as the Fremantle SLSC was very successful, including championship performances from our swimmers and our surf ski team, our first Female State Championship and almost total dominance of the WA Beach Arena by our Australian Champion Beach Team. We also saw the completion of the Port Beach Annexe and the start of major sponsorships for the Club.
We started the 1980s with a portent of things to come by winning the NSW Trophy for first year Bronze Holders for only the third time in our history. Coached by Brian Troy, the team of Kelvin Graham, Bradley Cowan, Francis Nolan and Shane Adams blitzed the field to win in all but one event of the multi-event competition.
A friend to all, Kelvin Graham went on to become one of Australian’s premier surf ski and kayak paddlers of the 1980s. He won the WA Junior (U18) Surf Ski Championship in 1980, 1981 and 1982. In addition to winning the 1982 WA Junior Ski, he finished 3rd in the WA Open Surf Ski, just behind the legendary Ken Vidler and Fremantle clubmate Ian Head. Kelvin was selected for the WA State Team in 1982, 1983 and 1984, winning the 1983 Interstate Ski Race at Clifton Beach Tasmania as a first-year senior. After transferring to Queensland in 1985 in a bid for Olympic selection, Kelvin won the Australian Open Single Ski Championship at Moana, SA in 1986.
He represented Australia at the Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992) Olympics, winning Bronze medals in K2 and K4. Incredibly, the Barcelona K4 crew also included former Fremantle ski paddler Ramon Andersson. Kelvin and Ramon are two of currently only 10 paddlers inducted into the Paddle WA Hall of Fame.
The ever-smiling Brad Cowan became one of our champion competitors and lifesaving leaders through the 1980s and a mainstay of our surf ski team. Brad was the Junior (U18) Champion Lifesaver of WA in 1982. With best friend Kelvin Graham, Brad won the 1981 Junior (U18) Double Ski and with brother Andrew, was a very close second in the 1988 Open Double Ski. In 1986, he was selected in the WA State Team as the No 1 ski paddler. Andrew himself had became Fremantle’s first full-time lifeguard in 1984 and won the WA Open Board Riding Championships in 1986 and 1987.
Francis Nolan also went on to win a State Championship for Fremantle, teaming with brothers Garry and Mark and Peter Schaper to win the 1980 Junior (U18) Beach Relay.
Under SLSA rules, women were not allowed to become full lifesavers and qualify for the Bronze Medallion until after July 1980. The first female Bronze Holders qualified at Fremantle were Carolyn Bailey and Debbie Bennett in October 1980 and were trained by Brian Troy. By the end of the 1980/81 season 24 women had qualified for their Bronze Medallion at Fremantle.
Our first women’s championship came in 1984 when Carol Pickard took out the Open Female Surf Race. Our women continued to achieve placings in the State Championships throughout the decade, including a silver medal in the 1988 Women’s Open Beach Relay through Natalie Leavy, Naomi Pavlovich, Tracey Irving and Joanne Grose. Jodee Walton also recorded impressive performances running for Fremantle in 1988, with a 4th place at the Australian Championships and a World Championships Silver Medal in the Open Female Beach Sprint.
Club President John McCourt was both WA and Australian Surf Lifesaver of the Year in 1983, earned for his work as an active lifesaver and administrator. His contribution in bringing the work of lifesavers before the general public was outstanding and he took full advantage of the unique opportunity of his profession as a journalist to obtain widespread media exposure for surf lifesaving.
1983 was also the highlight year for our surf ski team, though tinged with sadness. In that year, we won every category of the single ski at the WA State Championships. Sean Nolan won the Cadet (U15) Ski in addition to the Cadet (U15) Malibu Board.
Brett Jasson won the Junior (U18) Single Ski, the 4th consecutive year for a Fremantle paddler. And Mark Regel won the Open Single Ski, in the process completing a unique triple by having also won the 1976 Cadet (U15) Single Ski and the Junior (U18) Single Ski in 1978 & 1979. The sadness for the Club followed the sudden loss of Ian Head, who had suffered a brain hemorrhage on his 22nd birthday and died in December 1982. Ian had been a rising star of paddling, being the 1982 WA Open Surf Ski Silver medalist and an Australian Kayak Champion at the time of his death.
The 1980s saw Fremantle well represented in WA State Teams, including Rob Pickard as State Captain in 1984 and Coach in 1985. In 1982, Rob Pickard, Brian Troy and Kelvin Graham were key members of the winning interstate R&R Team, while in 1983, Mark Nolan, Brian Troy, Philip Hopkins and Andrew Hopkins (Scarboro) blitzed the Interstate Beach Relay.
Other WA representatives were Richard Hickson (Vice Captain 1987), Mark Peters, Adam Mills and Brad Cowan. John McCourt managed the WA State Team in 1984 while Ron Bennett managed the Australian Team against New Zealand in 1980.
We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 1985 (50 years since the formation of the Leighton club in 1935). As part of our celebrations, we hosted the innovative 50th Anniversary Carnival, the Westpac State Titles on Leighton Beach, and a major 50th Anniversary Dinner at the Port Authority Terminal.
The Club saw the start of major sponsorships in 1985/86, with “Fosters” providing an almost $100K package which included a fully equipped Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD rescue unit, a fully equipped IRB and numerous additional items.
A significant contribution to lifesaving in the Fremantle area was the building of the Port Beach Annexe in 1986 – a ‘mini’ lifesaving facility at Port Beach.
The Annexe included a First Aid room/office, storeroom and an all-weather lookout tower. Funding was provided by the America’s Cup Office - a significant grant which started the ball rolling, Surf Lifesaving WA, and our own Club members.
Some excellent performances were produced by our swimmers in the 1980s. Paul Pedretti was the Australian Surf Race Champion (10 years old) in 1982 and later won the WA Cadet (U15) Ironman Championship in 1985. Paul captained the WA Juvenile State Team in 1985. The towering Bruce Mentz won WA gold in the Cadet (U15) Surf Belt in 1982 and the Junior (U18) Surf Belt in 1984. And in 1986, Dave Wheatley recorded a shock but none-the-less well-deserved win in the WA Open Surf Belt, our first since Club legend Lochyer Cottman in 1946.
1986 also saw our A Crew of Rob Turner, Dean Symmans, Paul Andrews and Kim Hall record outstanding performances to make the final of the Open Surf Boat at the Australian Championships at Moana Beach, SA. The achievement was a credit to Surf Boat Captain and sweep Steve “Pom” Connor, who pursued surf boat success with a passion for most of the decade, laying the foundation for some great achievements into the 1990s.
The 1980s saw our Beach team start a dominance that resulted in Championships won in every year of the decade and into the next. Under the guidance first of Rob Pickard, then Brian Troy and finally Mark Nolan, the Beach Team recorded multiple successes in all age categories in Beach Sprints, Beach Flags and Beach Relays.
Mark Nolan opened the account, winning the WA Junior (U18) Beach Sprint in 1980 while Mark Jacques won the Cadet (U15) Beach Flags. The Marks repeated their success in 1981, with Mark Jacques winning the Beach Sprint and Beach Flags for Cadets (U15) while Mark Nolan won the double in the Junior (U18). Rob Pickard made it a Beach Flags triple by winning the 1981 WA Open title. Mark Nolan also placed third in the Junior (U18) Beach Sprint at the 1981 Australian Championships at Wanda NSW.
It was from 1982 that the Fremantle dominance of the beach really took off. In the Beach Flags, Robert Pickard won again for 4 consecutive Open Beach Flags from 1981 to 1984, with Richard Hickson (1986) and Adam Mills (1988) adding further titles. Adam also won the Australian silver medal in the Open Beach Flags in 1989 at Burleigh Heads, Qld.
In the Open Beach Relay, we won our first WA title of the decade in 1982 and, after a dropped baton in 1983, won every WA Open Beach Relay Title through to 1992. In 1987, we achieved the ultimate prize of the Australian Open Beach Relay Championship through Mark Nolan, Richard Hickson, Rod Pavlovich and Mark Peters.
As well as the Open titles, we were also strong in Cadet (U15) and Junior (U18) events. Mark Nolan (1980 & 81), Rod Pavlovich (1985) and Mark Peters (1986) all won WA Junior (U18) Beach Sprints. We won the Junior (U18) Beach Relay in 1980, 84 & 85 and the Cadet (U15) Beach Relay in 1986.
In 1983, Philip Hopkins won the first of 10 straight WA Open Beach Sprint Championships for the Fremantle Club. Subsequent winners in the 1980s were Mark Nolan (1984, 85, 88 & 89) and Richard Hickson (1986 & 87). Richard also won Australian Bronze Medals in the Open Beach Sprint in 1985 and 1987. And in 1987, we even had an Australian Masters Beach Sprint and Beach Flags Champion in the O55 category through Roy Becker.
1987 also saw our fantastic March Past team win our first WA March Past Title in over a decade. Reflecting the new mix of Club membership, the six men and six women had trained tirelessly over several years before achieving the win under the guidance of veteran coach Dave Blackley.
Finally, Graham Walton, Ron Cochrane and Roy Becker were made Club Life Members during the 1980s. All three contributed greatly to the Club and it is especially fitting that Roy’s 1989 award closes out the decade, as he had influenced and inspired so many of the names on this page as Juvenile Director in the 1970s and Chief Instructor in the 1980s. Greatness starts somewhere.
Fremantle – the nineties
The nineties saw continuing success for the Club, including an Australian U/18 Beach Relay Championship as well as our first ever WA Championships in the Open Surf Boat and Open First Aid Competition. We also saw the completion of new Active Clubrooms in 1995.
The 90s started with our Beach team continuing the dominance it had shown through the 1980s. In 1990, Jeff Davidson was named the SLSWA Sports Star of the Year after winning what was the first of his seven WA Open Men’s Beach Sprint Championships. Jeff repeated the Beach Sprint win in 1991 before Mark Peters took the title in 1992 - the 10th consecutive year a Fremantle Beach Sprinter had taken out the WA Open Beach Sprint Title. Mark won again in 1994 to make it 11 Fremantle Open Beach Sprint wins in 12 years. In the Open Beach Relay, Fremantle won the WA Championships and Australian Bronze Medals in 1990 and 1991, before winning the WA Championship again in 1992.
An era ended with the 1992 win, with the Open Beach Relay team having won the WA Championship 10 times in 11 years and nine years in a row to 1992, the Australian Championship in 1987 and World Runners-up in 1988. In 2017, the team was inducted into the SLSWA Sporting Hall of Fame in recognition of its achievements.
An undoubted highlight of the 1990s came in the surf boat arena. After many years of placings, finally, in 1991, we won the WA Open Surf Boat championship – the first ever after 57 years of competition. The Open Surf boat crew was Nick and Bill Palmer, Ross Onions, Dean Symmans and sweep Colin Duffield. The win had some added poignancy for the Club, with our former Surf Boat Captain Steve (Pom) Connor celebrating the victory before succumbing to cancer just 6 weeks later. RIP Pom.
Fremantle has always been strong in Lifesaving, training and qualifying many surf lifesavers. In 1990, the Fremantle Open First Aid team (Brent Ravlich, Lee Gilmore and coach Roy Sojan) were the WA Open First Aid Champions – the first time since the First Aid Championships were introduced in the 80’s. Another highlight came in 1998, when Club members qualified as professional lifeguards, with Matt Thurston and Craig Tolliday selected to patrol Yallingup beach during the school holidays.
Female membership of our club continued to grow through the 90s with women taking on more roles. Donna Peters became Treasurer in 1990 and in 1991, Sue Collins became our first female member elected Club Captain.
We celebrated our 60th anniversary in style in 1994/95. The new Active Clubrooms were completed and opened in March 1995, and included new changerooms, First Aid room, large Training room and Gymnasium, and an impressive (and huge) equipment/boat shed. Funding for the $650K building project was provided through grants from Lotteries Commission of WA, the Shell Company of Australia, the Federal Government, the Fremantle City Council, the Fremantle Port Authority and significant financing from the Fremantle Club itself. To top off the celerations, we won the Haywood Efficiency Trophy for the best run club on the coast – another first for the Club as it was the first time in 21 years of the trophy.
In 1995, a new group of talented young Fremantle runners came to the fore to dominate the U16 and U18 beach events. Built around Luke Pember, Joel Moore and Travis Sheehy and with coaching from Club greats Richard Hickson and Mark Nolan, we won six state titles from 1995 to 1997.
In 1997, our team of Luke, Joel, Travis and Scott Cumming blitzed the competition to win both the Australian and State Titles in the U/18 Beach Relay. Luke was also outstanding at the State Titles picking up 4 Gold medals in the U/16 Sprint, U/16 Flags and U/16 Relay, plus the U/18 Relay.
In the water arena, Lisa Anderson won a swag of State medals, including Gold medals in the U/16 Female Surf Race in 1994 and the U/18 Female Surf Race in 1996.
In 1995, the emergence of women boat rowers received great interest in the media and with sponsors, with Fremantle well in the forefront with two womens crews competing all season.
Champion sprinter Mark Peters continued to compete through the 90s and regularly placed in the WA Open Beach Sprint. In 1999, he won an Australian Masters Gold Medal in the 30-34 Beach Sprint.
At the other end of the spectrum, our Junior Activities (“Nippers”) put in a great team performance to win the handicap shield – the first time Fremantle had won the shield since its inception in 1985.
Finally, with WA Championship wins in the U/18 and U/21 Surf Boats in 1999, our Boat Crews foreshadowed strong performances to come as we looked forward to the new Millennium.
Fremantle – the 2000’s
The 2000’s presented a tale of three parts – the early part saw Fremantle’s Surf Boat crews being the powerhouse of competition in the Club. By mid-decade the beach arena again came to dominate with impressive results at the State Championships, and our next Australian Gold medal – in the U/17 Male Beach Relay in 2007. By the end of the decade our IRB team came to the fore, winning their first Gold medal at the 2007 State Championships and then, in 2008, the ultimate prize of Champion IRB Club. During this decade the Club also saw a Club Life Member inducted into the SLSWA Sporting Hall of Fame and another honoured with Life Membership of Surf Lifesaving WA.
At the start of the decade, Fremantle dominated in U21 and U18/U19 Surf Boats. We followed up our 1999 wins in U21 & U18 with the U18 title in 2000, the U19 and U21 titles in 2001 and the U21 title in 2002. In 2004, our Open Surf Boat crew of Justin Rose, James Tilbury, Dan Hamilton, Michael Cameron and Steve Petrie (sweep) were selected to represent WA at the interstate challenge in Southport, South Australia.
In 2005, Life Member Mark Nolan was inducted into the SLSWA Sporting Hall of Fame for his outstanding achievements as a competitor and coach in the beach arena. Mark won 4 WA Open Beach Sprint Titles in the 1980s, was a member and coach of the 1987 Australian Open Beach Relay Champions and was a nine-times member of the Open Beach Relay team which won 10 WA titles over 11 years. Fellow Beach Sprinter Jeff Davidson (Fremantle/Mullaloo) had also been inducted the previous year for his outstanding achievements as a beach competitor and coach.
Under the coaching of Mark Nolan, the U/17 Male Beach Relay (Alexander Obiri-Boateng, Matthew Lee, Daniel Chambers and Tom Nolan) won the 2006 Australian Championships at Kurrawa, Qld. Alex also won silver in the Australian U/17 Beach Sprint and Tom a silver in the U/17 Beach Flags. This followed an impressive showing at the State Titles where the beach team won five gold medals. The U/17 relay team won both the Open and U/17 beach relays, Alex Obiri-Boateng won both the Open and U/17 Male Beach Sprint, and Tom Nolan won the U/17 Male Beach Flags – a fantastic achievement by the beach team.
Proving that the goal of surf sports competition is to produce outstanding lifesavers, Alex Obiri-Boateng showed his lifesaving skills later that year during schoolies week at Rottnest where he saved his friend’s life after he collapsed with a rare, undetected heart condition – Alex was on the front page of the West Australian newspaper and received a Certificate of Merit from SLSWA for his actions.
In 2007, the beach team continued its winning ways with Tom Nolan winning both the Open and U/19 Male Beach Sprint, and the U/19 Male Beach Relay again winning the State Title. Sam Bourke replaced Alex who had a serious hamstring injury.
On 28 May 2008, Club Life Member Larry Tilbury received one of the most prestigious honours in surf by being inducted as a Life Member of Surf Lifesaving WA. Larry’s contribution to surf lifesaving in WA, including the Leighton/Fremantle SLSC, has been outstanding over more than 40 years, covering all facets of surf lifesaving activity. Dot Shearer (Port/Fremantle/North Cottesloe) and Tony Snelling (Port/Fremantle/Bunbury) were also honoured during the decade.
2009 was a year for outstanding performances in the water arena. Natasha Kayser and Danielle Lankester won the U/17 Female Board Rescue and teamed with Lauren Lankester and Laura Halden to win the U/17 Female Surf Teams. Lauren Lankester also won the U/15 Female 2km Beach Run.
Some interesting parent/child performances were observed during the decade. At age 16, Shane Troy was a member of the 2001 State Champion U/21 Boat Crew. At age 17, Eric Troy had stroked the 1973 State Champion Reserve Grade Boat Crew, while also stroking the club’s Junior (U/18) crew at the same carnival.
In being selected as part of the 2004 State Boat Crew, James Tilbury emulated his father Larry, who was part of the Leighton Crew selected as the 1970 State Team Boat Crew.
And in winning the first of his 6 straight WA Open Beach Sprint Championships in 2007, Tom Nolan followed in the footsteps of his father Mark, who had won the first of his 4 WA Open Beach Sprint Titles in 1984.
Lifesaving methods and equipment have changed over the years. Our Club was the first in WA and one of the first in Australia to trial inflatable rescue boats in the early 1970s. IRBs developed to become a mainstay of SLSA search and rescue capability and over time a competition developed to help IRB crews hone their lifesaving skills.
The Fremantle IRB team, who had been slowly building and gaining experience through the decade, took out our first gold medal in 2007 in the IRB Female Rescue with members Anne-Marie Nunes (driver), Sophie Maguire and Paige Bavich.
The following season, in June 2008, Fremantle won the IRB Champion Club for the first time ever. Our IRB team blitzed the field, winning 5 gold medals and placing in another 4 events. This Champion Club win was to herald the start of an impressive run as we moved into the 2010s, with the Club winning the IRB Champion Club 6 times in the next 7 years.
Fremantle – the 2010’s
The 2010’s saw continuing success for the Club in the IRB arena, including our first medal at the National IRB Championships, impressive results in the Pool Rescue arena culminating with gold medals at the Australian Pool Rescue Championships and winning the inaugural Pool Rescue Champion Club in 2019, success at the SLSWA Awards of Excellence, and a thriving Junior “Nippers” section. We saw the completion of a new purpose-built Clubrooms in 2011. We also saw our Open Beach Relay team members (2017) and Rob Pickard (2018) inducted into the SLSWA Sporting Hall of Fame for their successes in the 80’s and 90’s.
The IRB racing team was outstanding throughout the decade. They continued their success, winning the Champion IRB Club in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016, and runners up in 2013 and 2017.
That is the Fremantle Club won a total of 8 Champion IRB Club trophies in 9 years - a magnificent effort. Over this time, the team won 36 State IRB Championship Gold medals and numerous other placings.
In the 2014/15 season, after winning the WA State Championship in the IRB Male Teams Rescue, the Pinkel’s team won Fremantle’s first IRB Australian medal (bronze) at the National IRB Championships in the IRB Male Teams Race. The Pinkel’s team was Ben Pink, Matthew Frankel, Chris Pink, Elisabeth Pitts, Nathan Frankel and Anne-Marie Nunes.
Our new Clubhouse was opened on 19 May 2011 by the Hon Premier Colin Barnett and Club President Mick Burke. The new clubrooms include change rooms, First Aid Room, gymnasium, members bar and also provide extensive room for training, administration and storage.
It also incorporates a lookout tower accessed from within the building. Funding was provided by Lotterywest, Community Sport and Recreation, the WA Planning Commission, and the Fremantle Club members.
And to top off the celebrations of the new Club, we won the Haywood Efficiency Trophy for the best run club on the coast – the second year in a row !
In 2011, Theo Haywood OAM, one of the foundation members of the Leighton Club, was inducted into the Surf Life Saving Australia Hall of Fame. Theo was Leighton’s first treasurer in 1936, and became Secretary of Surf Lifesaving WA in 1940 – a position he held until the early 60’s. He was awarded Life Membership of SLSWA in 1952.
The Fremantle Club has always been strong on Lifesaving, and has participated in the Lifesaving Championships (Champion Patrol, Champion Lifesaver and First Aid) over many years taking out many places over this time. However, in 2012 we took out the ultimate prize – a Gold medal in the Open Champion Patrol.
The Open Champion Patrol members were Sam Bilton, Lex Kuster, Paul Prisley, Callum Wilkinson, Chris Kuster and Belinda Kuster. In the U17 Champion Patrol Fremantle won gold in 2010 (Sam Bilton, Lex Kuster, Dani and Lauren Lankester), 2011 (Lauren Lankester, Olivia Morris, Alexandra Preston and Callum Wilkinson) and 2012 (Perri-Rose Jackson, Olivia Morris, Alex Preston and Sophie Preston). In addition, in the Champion Lifesaver competition, we won U17 Female (Dani Lankester) and U17 Male (Lex Kuster) in 2010, and the U19 Female (Lauren Lankester)in 2012.
Although the ski arena has seen numerous minor placings over the decade, it has only won two notable titles. In 2013, our team of Jordan Ringrose, Mark Housham and Brendan Peters took out the U17 Ski Relay Championship, and in 2016 Maddie Shaw was the U19 Female Single Ski Champion.
In the water arena, in 2013, we had success in the U17 Male Tube Race (Brendan Peters) and the U15 Male Surf Teams (Kieran Peters, Jack Smith, Jacob Hooper and Gerard Standing).
In 2014, at the Australian Masters Championships at Scarborough, our ladies team of Sue Collins, Tracey Shaw and Pip Hawson won the Masters Female Surf Teams (150 yrs). Sue and Pip then combined to win the Masters Female Board Rescue (50-54 yrs). In 2017, Tracey Shaw and Fiona Carroll wont the Female Board Rescue (40-44yrs)t the Australian Masters Championships at North Kirra, QLD
During this decade, the beach team excelled in the long distance running events. In the Female 2km Beach Run, we won in 2010 (U17 Lauren Lankester), 2012 (U15 Annabelle Standing), 2017 (U17 Abbey Henderson) and 2018 (U14 Amelie Prinsloo).
At the Australian Championships, in 2012, Annabelle Standing gained a Silver medal and Sam Bilton U19 a Bronze medal, and in 2018, Amelie Prinsloo gained a Bronze medal. In the Male 2km Beach Run, we won in 2012 (U17 Charlie Nicholls), 2016 and 2017 (U14 and U15 Zachariah Coleman).
In 2017, the Fremantle “Nippers” won the Junior States Handicap Shield – the first time for many years and the first this decade.
In 2018, Rob Pickard was inducted into the SLSWA Sporting Hall of Fame for his outstanding achievements as a competitor and coach in the beach arena. Rob won three Australian and six WA Open Mens Beach Flags Championships during the 1970’s and 80’s.
In 2013, Fremantle began competing in the Pool Rescue Championships and won three Gold medals. Participation and results increased over the years such that we had large numbers competing and by 2017 were winning over 20 Gold medals each season across both the Senior and Junior Pool Rescue Championships. In 2017, at the Australian Pool Rescue Championships in Adelaide, Tupou (“TJ”) Chong Sue (3 Gold) and Harrison Hynes (2 Gold) won our first Australian Pool Rescue Gold medals.
At the next Australian Championships in 2018, further Australian gold medals were won by Tupou (6 Gold), Harrison (1 Gold) and Tracey Shaw (2 Gold). In the 2018/19 season, SLSWA split the overall Championship points on offer and made Pool Rescue a stand-alone State Championship Event.
Such was our depth and over strength in Pool Rescue, the Fremantle team was the 2019 winner of the inaugural State Pool Rescue Championship Champion Club trophy.
Again on the Lifesaving front, Fremantle excelled and won many awards at the annual “Awards of Excellence” over the decade. Most notable, were the winning of the coveted Patrol Club of the Year (I.T. Birtwistle) trophy in 2016 and 2019, and the Haywood Administration Shield in 2010, 2011 and 2015.
Several Club members were honoured over this time - Belinda Kuster (2011 Trainer of the Year), Ethan Stewart (2016 Support Volunteer of the Year), Liam Burke (2018 Lifesaver of the Year), John Summers (2019 Assessor of the Year) and Mike Shaw (2019 AGL Volunteer and Trainer of the Year)
During the decade, the Fremantle Club inducted five new Life Members – Mark Regel (2012), Mark Peters and Susan Collins (2014), John Summers (2015) and Rachelle Doyle (2017.