History maker: Sam Welsford's third straight Burnie Wheel win was one on many highlights over the carnival series. Picture: Cordell Richardson.
High levels of competition, good crowds and solid participation numbers have left organisers of the 2017-2018 Christmas Carnivals series satisfied with what was presented on the North-West Coast this season.
Sporting Carnivals Association of Tasmania (SCAT) president Mike Gunson said crowds would have left Latrobe, Devonport and Burnie impressed with what they witnessed.
“The athletics, cycling and woodchopping were all very good,” Gunson said.
“We had cyclists from eight different nations here and John Craven from Caribou Publications must be congratulated.
“In the athletics the highlight was having the American champion Devon Allen here, but that was backed up by many high-class national athletes which certainly made for excellent racing.
“We understand we have to keep up a standard and continue to improve, but there was a really good standard of fields across the three disciplines.”
While entry numbers across most races was strong, Gunson admitted some work will need to be done to boost the field sizes for women’s cycling.
Only 20 riders were entered for the series with no heats needed for any of the major wheel races and local star Amy Cure the only rider off scratch.
We understand we have to keep up a standard and continue to improve, but there was a really good standard of fields across the three disciplines.
SCAT president Mike Gunson
“The field sizes were good and from an athletics point of view we were very pleased,” Gunson said.
“Men’s cycling was good, but we need to do some work on the women’s field sizes – they went backwards a bit this season for a variety of reasons and the depth wasn’t as strong as what we would have liked.
“But we’ve spoken to some cycling stakeholders and we are pretty confident we can increase those field sizes next year.”
Both SCAT and the respective carnival organising committee’s were pleased with the public support of the series, and while official numbers weren’t available, estimates put Devonport’s crowd at 2500 and Burnie between 4200-4300, while Latrobe reported their best crowd in five years.
Gunson said the competing Big Bash League game in Launceston gave Devonport a tough initiation for its revised one-day format.
“Devonport didn’t seem to be any less than what they usually get, but certainly the cricket in Launceston gave us stiff competition,” he said.
“I had a friend who went to the game and he said there was a non-stop line of cars heading up the highway.
“But you can’t move the carnival, you have to go up against in and put your product out there, and the new one-day meet for Devonport was excellent and I know a lot of the athletes endorsed it.”