The North Island Surf Boat Championship – the fifth round of the six-round NZ Surf Boat Series was raced in big waves on Saturday February 9, with the points for the overall championship close, heading toward the final round of the series.
The second-to-last race meet of the series was raced at Waihi Beach, following the Trans-Tasman Surf Boat Challenge, making for a big day of competition, with about 400 spectators from throughout New Zealand and from Australia.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand sport manager Mike Lord said the day was a tough one for all teams, with big waves making racing challenging and unpredictable.
“The open winners – the Titahi Bay Bay Boys team and Orewa Gems women’s team showed through with considerable performance, holding the boats straight in those conditions – it was tough, and they did well.”
Surf boats are oar-powered open boats, mostly used for sport now, but were made famous for rescuing people from the stranded Wahine more than 50 years ago in Wellington.
They are known for putting on spectacular almost- aerial shows, as the crews smash head-first into big waves, with the rowers pulling through, and a sweeper at the back guiding them to stay on the right course.
The series started on December 6 at Whangamata, and has drawn teams from clubs throughout the country. It will wrap up on February 23rd and 24th at Omaha Beach, near Warkworth.
Last year the series open titles were won by Christchurch’s North Beach team, and the Muriwai women’s team.
“Surf boat racing is thrilling to take part in and to watch, but these teams are also part of a surf lifesaving discipline aimed squarely at lifesaving skills - knowing how to battle through difficult ocean conditions to reach people at a moment’s notice”, Lord said.
“They are highly skilled and rescue-ready. It’s good to see them honing their skills each summer with competition, and keeping each other enthused and challenged.”
Sunday, February 10, was scheduled for another day of surf boat racing at Waihi Beach, with the Representative Regional Surf Boat Challenge, and the Champion of Champions – a free-for-all show down between all age grades and men’s and women’s teams. But heavy surf conditions meant the day had to be cancelled, Lord said.
NZ Surf Boat Series Round 5 Winners:
(All races were long-course).
Alana McIsaac, Media & Communications Manager
Phone 027 515 7157