Inside knowledge cost Sam Shergold a win at the opening event of surf lifesaving's Bay of Plenty Winter Series in Mount Maunganui today but the 18-year-old wasn't too disheartened.
Series organiser and nationally-ranked kayaker Scott Bicknell pipped the promising Shergold in a run up the beach after the 9km ski race, with a blustery easterly and heavy seas moving racing to the more sheltered Pilot Bay.
It was still a valuable hit-out for Shergold, however, as he seeks a place in the New Zealand under-20 team to compete in November's world championships in Adelaide.
"Scotty put a sprint on coming around the final buoy, so I followed and we both hit the beach together but he knew which way to go and had a much better line to the finish," Shergold said. "That kind of racing is invaluable though - it's a great chance to measure where I am and show selectors of my fitness with worlds selection coming up next month."
Bicknell, a regional development officer for Surf Life Saving New Zealand, had a busy day, helping set up the relocated course, competing in the 2km beach run and winning the ski. His helpers were kept busy with entries for the opening round of the new winter series too, with nearly 50 athletes coming from eight clubs between Hawke's Bay and Auckland.
"We were delighted with the turn-out, despite the threat of the weather, and this is a really solid way to start the series," Bicknell said. "It should be enough to remind other clubs that this kind of racing can't be replicated and it's a great way of setting their athletes up for what's shaping as a big season."
November's world championships are the first time since 2006 that the event has been held in the southern hemisphere, with two New Zealand teams - open and under-20 - and a number of club-based teams expected to head to Adelaide.
Bay of Plenty clubs Mount Maunganui and Papamoa are both sending large squads, although Papamoa's under-20 stars Natalie Peat and Ben Johnstone sat out today's racing with a swimming selection meet next week.
Their clubmate Mason Bryant impressed in their absence, however, with the under-16 athlete beating home all-comers in the 2km beach run and finishing third behind two more Papamoa juniors - Danny Hart and Scott Cowdrey - in the 6km board race.
Mount Maunganui's Katie Wilson, also in the national under-20 squad, won the female 9km ski race, heading home Omanu's Ashley Cochrane, with Jess Miller (Mount Maunganui) third.
The next event in the winter series in on August 19.
Leading results from the first round of Bay of Plenty Winter Series, held at Pilot Bay, Mount Maunganui, Sunday 23 July:
9km ski race: Men: Scott Bicknell (Ocean Beach Kiwi) 1, Sam Shergold (Mount Maunganui) 2, Andrew Roy (Mount Maunganui) 3, Jack Wilson (Orewa) 4, Andrew Newton (Mount Maunganui) 5. Women: Katie Wilson (Mount Maunganui) 1, Ashley Cochrane (Omanu) 2, Jess Miller (Mount Maunganui) 3.
6km board race: Men: Danny Hart (Papamoa) 1, Scott Cowdrey (Papamoa) 2, Mason Bryant (Papamoa) 3, Wayne Campbell (Mount Maunganui) 4, Simon Oldham (Omanu) 5. Women: Georgia Stewart (Papamoa) 1.
2km beach run: Men: Mason Bryant (Papamoa) 1, Hayden Reardon (Mount Maunganui) 2, James Masters (Mount Maunganui) 3, Scott Bicknell (Ocean Beach Kiwi) 4, Wayne Campbell (Mount Maunganui) 5. Women: Emily Campbell (Mount Maunganui) 1, Georgia Childs (Mount Maunganui) 2.
Article written by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Journalism.
Ski Race start, photo by Mark Weatherall.