Young surf stars rub shoulders with seasoned prosTuesday, 21 February 2012
Surf lifesaving's current stars will rub shoulders with the best juniors in the country at this week's Oceans 12 under-14 New Zealand championships in Mount Maunganui.
The four-day carnival starts on Thursday, with more than 700 athletes from 41 clubs competing.
But the bonus for the juniors is the chance to watch New Zealand's top ironmen and women competing in the final of the Sonic Race Series on Saturday.
The finalist spots were only decided on Sunday after the Northern and Southern Regional championships and Red Beach athletes dominate the ironman final field, with AJ Maney qualifying first, Dylan French second-equal and Jared Pouwhare sixth.
Other top contenders include Midway 17-year-old Cory Taylor, his experienced clubmate Matt Sutton and veteran New Plymouth Old Boys ironman Glenn Anderson.
Mairangi Bay's Madison Boon capped a rewarding summer by leading qualifying for the ironwoman race, with Papamoa teenager Natalie Peat second and another 17-year-old, Mairangi Bay triathlete Danielle McKenzie third.
There will be four Mount Maunganui females racing on their home beach, headed by the club's French star Emmanuelle Bescheron, teenagers Jess Miller and Katie Wilson, and former New Zealand representative Johanna O'Connor.
Papamoa, meanwhile, will be looking to reclaim sole possession of the overall Oceans club title after sharing the spoils with Red Beach last year.
Papamoa trailed Red Beach by four points heading into the final two events but picked up a second in the under-12 Cameron relay and a fighting third in the under-14 Cameron relay to draw level.
Last year's carnival had everything, from huge early surf and white-hot beach action, to ideal half-metre swells on the final day.
Sonic Race series qualifiers:
Ironmen: AJ Maney (Red Beach) 27 pts 1, Cory Taylor (Midway), Dylan French (Red Beach) 25 2=, Glenn Anderson (New Plymouth Old Boys) 21 4, Matt Sutton (Midway) 17 5, Jared Pouwhare (Red Beach) 15 6, Andrew Newton (Mount Maunganui) 14 7, Tyler Maxwell (Lyall Bay) 12 8, Hamish Beattie (Westshore) 9 9.
Ironwomen: Madison Boon (Mairangi Bay) 39 1, Natalie Peat (Papamoa) 32 2, Danielle McKenzie (Mairangi Bay) 21 3, Emmanuelle Bescheron (Mount Maunganui), Caitlin Ryan (Red Beach) 11 4=,, Jess Miller (Mount Maunganui), Katie Wilson (Mount Maunganui) 11 6=, Johanna O'Connor (Mount Maunganui) 8 9.