Family ties help clinch IRB spoils

Posted by Administrator on Monday, December 12, 2011

It was all in the family for winning crews at the second round of surf lifesaving's BP Surf Rescue series, the North Island championships, in Whangamata today.

St Clair sisters Steph and Carla Laughton dominated the women's division, winning all four titles on offer in the messy 1.5m Whangamata surf.

Perennial front-runners East End, featuring husband and wife Andrew and Emma Cronin, won three titles in the premier division plus the open teams race, along with crewman James Morwood.

And not to be outdone, Mount Maunganui twins Kirby and Chad Wheeler were the pick of the under-21 division, winning the single rescue and assembly rescue today to go with their mass rescue gold yesterday.

The Invercargill-born Laughtons missed the first round of the series in Omaha last month but made their presence felt in Whangamata, where they won the tube rescue title at the national championships in April.

"The other family connection is our patients - Natasha and Gabby Scott are sisters as well and they helped us win the mass rescue," Steph Laughton said.  "Carla and I have been racing together since 2008 and we know pretty well what the other is doing in the boat, which is especially important in tough conditions like there was here this weekend."

East End's top women's crew of Laura Begg and Kirsty May shared the minor spoils with Mount Maunganui's Lauren Assink and Jess Niederer, each pairing picking up a silver and a bronze.

Such was the close nature of the premier division, however, that Waimarama duo Mike Harman and Ben Cross - with Cross's sister Leila as patient - took out the overall title when Cronin and Morwood were disqualified from the tube rescue final.

"It was nice to come back and win the other ones," Cronin admitted.  "We did three and a bit training sessions coming into the carnival and that first final was probably a fair reflection of where we were at.  This was a great event to start the season with and now we know what we need to work on for the rest of them."

Harman and Cross were third in the tube rescue and assembly and picked up silvers in the mass rescue, teams race and single rescue.

"It was really good this weekend because we had some great competition, which really pushed us," Harman said.  "They were pretty tough conditions and a good start didn't necessarily mean you were going to win the race - you still had to negotiate your way through the waves.  It was good to mix it up though - it was a good leveler."

The Wheelers also had an early mishap, flipping during the under-21 tube rescue final, but stormed back with sharp teamwork giving them and patient Sam Roy three golds and the overall spoils.

"We were pretty stoked with our consistency after that and the way we handled the surf," Kirby Wheeler said.  "This weekend was really hard and a pretty good test of skills and we're really looking forward to the rest of the series."

Their efforts helped Mount Maunganui into second in the overall club scores, although East End were a class apart, finishing 28 points clear on 89.  Waimarama were third on 33, with Waikanae - helped by Ryan Jarvis and Matt Kemp's domination in the senior division - fourth on 26.

The next round of the series is in Taranaki on January 14.

View a full set of the results here.

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