Phillip Island Football Club senior Coach Beau Vernon (front, middle) was thrilled to complete the Cowes Classic on Saturday with support from his mates Chris Dallinger, Alex Officer, Jason Tomada, Jamie Youle, Scott Huther, Hayden Bruce, and Finlay Cousins. kg190820

Emma Jeffcoat and Tamsyn Moana-Veale were equal first in the Senior Open Female category of the Cowes Classic. The win earned Tamsyn the Senior Open Female title in the Bass Coast Series. kg180820

PERFECT conditions saw competitors turn out in force for the Cowes Classic at the weekend, with a strong field of locals battling it out with professional triathletes in a beach swim and four-kilometre run.
With the sun shining and barely a breath of wind, close to 300 entrants bounded into the water at Cowes Front Beach on Saturday afternoon, riding the outgoing tide in the 500-metre swim from the east to the west of the jetty.
It was then back out onto the beach to begin a foot race through the streets of Cowes, with a downhill finish on The Esplanade.
First across the line and the winner of the Senior Open Male category, for the second year in a row, was Melbourne-based triathlete Marcel Walkington, with a new personal best time of 17:14.1.
He was followed by training partner Callum McClusky with a time of 17:39.6, and fellow members of the Elotik Pro Triathlon squad Tamsyn Moana-Veale and Emma Jeffcoat, who finished together to claim the joint Senior Open Female title with a time of 19:10.9.
Other winners included Junior Male Tristan Price, Junior Male (Local) Luke Muir, Junior Female Remy Kenyon, Junior Female (Local) Raani Altamura, Senior Male (Local) Luke Plant, Senior Female (Local) Kara Landells, Mature Male Kris Harris (winner of both the Open and Local categories), Mature Female Sarah Smith (winner of both the Open and Local categories), Veteran Male Rob Fleisner (winner of both the Open and Local categories), Veteran Female Kylie Arnott, and Veteran Female (Local) Suzie Herrington. Close to 50 relay teams also competed.
But the standout of the day had to be Phillip Island Football Club coach Beau Vernon, who had the crowd
going wild when he crossed the finish line in his wheelchair, surrounded by friends who’d helped him train for and complete the event against all odds.
Beau was left with C5-C6 quadriplegia following a football injury in 2012, but has never shied away from a challenge or an opportunity to promote inclusion and disability awareness.
Determined to keep up the outdoor activities he’s always loved, the motivational speaker, ambassador and father of two blew everyone away with his performance on Saturday, which was unanimously described as “incredible” and “inspirational”.
He completed the swim doing double arm backstroke, before getting back into his chair to push himself along the road course – a feat no one has attempted before.
“It’s so easy to say with these things ‘I’m not gonna do it ‘cause I’ll be too slow, it’ll be too hard,’ but I had a good crew of mates to give me a hand, to get up and down the beach,” Beau told the Sentinel-Times after the race.
“It’s just good to get out and still do things you can do when you’re not in a wheelchair. I love community events, so I always try to come down and get involved,” he said.
Run by the volunteers from the Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club and Phillip Island Football Netball Club, Saturday’s events also featured the second annual Little Penguin Dash, with around 100 kids aged 7-14 participating in their own beach run and swim.

Bass Coast Series winners
THE overall winners of the Bass Coast Series, which includes the Cowes Classic, the Cape Paterson Aquathon and the San Remo Channel Challenge, were announced on Saturday night.
Competitors in each race are awarded points according to their finishing position and the category they’re eligible for, with a total of $3400 in prizemoney up for grabs, sponsored by the Bass Coast Shire Council.
Senior Open Male and Female went to professional triathletes Marcel Walkington and Tamsyn Moana-Veale, who won all three events in the Senior Open categories, while Justin Tilley and Kara Landells came out on top overall in the Senior Local Male and Female categories.
Luke Muir won both Junior Open Male and Junior Local male. Likewise, McKenzie Wain won both Junior Open Female and Junior Local Female.
Kris Harris and Sarah Smith took out the Over 40s categories (open male and female, and local male and female).
Rob Fleisner won Over 50 Open Male and Local Male, and Janice Stephens and Suzie Herrington won Over 50 Open Female and Over 50 Local Female, respectively.
Organisers reported strong participation in all three events and an increasing number of competitors finishing all three legs of the Series.
Special mention was made of four local competitors: Woolamai lifesaver Luke Plant, plus Justin Tilley, Mark Rowe, and local junior Luke Muir, who all finished in the top 10 mixed in with five members of the national triathlon training squad preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.

For more photos grab a copy of this weeks South Gippsland Sentinel-Times or subscribe to our digital edition: https://sgst.com.au/ezine-publication/

For more photos grab a copy of this weeks South Gippsland Sentinel-Times or subscribe to our digital edition: https://sgst.com.au/ezine-publication/