Home surf best shot at championships

They have ridden the waves since childhood, will have the backing of thousands and mum's cooking won't be far away.

WA's top athletes in the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships say their first home advantage in five years gives them their best shot at "Aussies" gold.

Brendon Sarson, Simon Huitenga, Kirstie Hardstaff and Jade Mickle will be among 4500 athletes when one of the world's biggest lifesaving events comes to Scarborough on March 31.

The event's return to WA has been hailed as a tourism win by Tourism Minister Liza Harvey, after it brought more than 80,000 visitors and $14 million to WA in 2009.

For Sarson, it's a chance to prove his ski relay team's gold medal last year was "more than a fluke".

"To go back-to-back just proves it wasn't a one-off and you are the best in the business," he said.

"Staying at home and being able to be in your own bed . . . and having all your family and friends there watching you is definitely an advantage, too."

In the swim competition, Huitenga's performance in the water could put him among the frontrunners for a spot on the Olympics team - a dream he has held since he was a child.

Four-hour daily swim sessions and 5am starts will hopefully pay off when he faces off against four-time Australian Ironman winner Ky Hurst.

Women's division competitors, reigning State Ironwoman Hardstaff and 16-year-old Mickle will face the world stage on the same stretches of coastline they enjoyed as surf lifesaving nippers.

Baited drum lines, which were removed for the Rottnest Channel Swim last month, will remain at Trigg and Scarborough beaches for the week-long competition in line with the organiser's requests.

The West Australian

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