New Zealand surf lifesaver Max Beattie has kicked on from his world championship success at the Surf Ironman Qualifying Series in Australia.
The 21-year-old, a key performer in New Zealand's historic win at Rescue 2012 in Adelaide last month, currently leads the series after two rounds, having finished fifth overall in the latest round at Warilla Barrack Point in Sydney.
The series promotes the next level of talent below the lucrative Kellogg's Nutri-Grain professional series, although several KNG series athletes are racing in both to keep their fitness sharp.
The Northcliffe-based Beattie - who finished second in the ironman behind world champion Shannon Eckstein in Adelaide - is delighted with his form in the series, which has seen him earn a one-point lead over Mooloolaba's Matt Belivaqua.
"The aim of the series is to get some competitive racing under my belt and get ready for the New Zealand and Australian nationals later in the season," Beattie said. "I'm still on a high after worlds, though - the atmosphere and the confidence that our New Zealand team had at worlds has given me a new-found belief in myself and I can't wait to start taking on the best."
The next race in the series is at Torquay Beach, Victoria, in mid-January.
Meanwhile, two of Beattie's world championship-winning teammates, Kiwi captain Andy McMillan and Kevin Morrison, have just completed the five-day Mark Webber Challenge multisport race in Tasmania. The pair teamed up with their Northcliffe teammate Eckstein for the 350km adventure race, which involved mountain biking, kayaking and trekking.
Fellow Kiwis Richard Ussher and Braden Currie finished second overall, behind Victorians Jarad Kohlar and James Pretto.