Gisborne poured on the surf on a dramatic second day at the State New Zealand surf life saving championships today.
The 1200 competitors faced 2.5m waves at Midway Beach, stirred up by a deep depression to the south-east of the country.
While it made for spectacular action, particularly in the boat and canoe arenas, the swells caused havoc for organisers, who had to juggle events and move agegroup races away from Midway to the relatively sheltered Waikanae Beach a kilometre away.
Even the open competitors struggled - the open women's board relay final turned into a 27min epic, eventually won by Mount Maunganui's Arna Wright, Aimee Berridge and Katrina Madill, with Mairangi Bay and Westshore the only other teams to complete the race.
Red Beach took out the open men's board relay, through AJ Maney, Chris Moors and Jared Pouwhare, with hos club Midway second and Mount Maunganui third.
Midway's big-wave experience and local knowledge helped the Gisborne club storm up the overall points table, grabbing wins in the under-19 men's board relay and both the under-16 and open men's surf teams race.
On the sand, Paul Cracroft-Wilson won his fifth beach flags crown, heading off Japanese visitor Tatsuya Honda, with Mount Maunganui's Dan Peacocke and South Brighton's Morgan Foster filling the minor spots.
Mairangi Bay's Chanel Hickman defended her open women's beach flag title, her fourth win in a row, holding off Red Beach's Naomi Young and Alison Craigie (Muriwai).
Berridge won her second relay gold for Mount Maunganui, joining with Emmanuelle Bescheron, Johanna O'Connor and Rebecca Lockwood to win the open women's surf race.
With the big swell expected to ease overnight, the last day of action will be packed with finals, including the feature ironman and ironwoman races and the boat and canoe finals.
Gisborne schoolboy Cory Taylor will eye a slice of history when he chases the under-19 and open ironman titles, a feat only managed twice before by Dan Moodie in 2006 and 2007.
Berridge is the reigning ironwoman champion, though Sydney-based star Devon Halligan has been in withering form this summer. The 19-year-old capped a gutsy effort at the Lion Foundation Surf League last month by winning all four ironwoman races over the two days, out-sprinting Westshore's Nikki Cox in the two open races.
Cox has twice won the ironwoman crown, in 2008 and 2010, while Mairangi Bay's Madison Boon has two seconds and two thirds in the last five years.
Whakatane open canoe crew member Tony Lovett eyes a big drop during big swells at the 2012 State New Zealand surf life saving championships at Midway Beach, Gisborne. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Journalism.
Open: Surf Teams Race. Midway (Chris Dawson/Shaun Pahina/Michael Janes/Matthew Sutton) 1, Papamoa (Ben Johnston/Daniel Kayes/Blair Dunn/Brad Wilson) 2, Westshore (Hamish Beattie/Daniel Moodie/Jared Phelps/Chris Swain) 3. Board Relay. Red Beach (Alistair Maney/Chris Moors/Jared Pouwhare) 1, Midway (Cory Taylor/Michael Janes/Matthew Sutton) 2, Mt Maunganui (Sam Shergold/Adrien Lambolez/Andrew Newton) 3. Beach Flags. Paul Cracroft-Wilson (Fitzroy) 1, Tatsuya Honda (All Stars) 2, Daniel Peacocke (Mt Maunganui) 3, Morgan Foster (South Brighton) 4.
Under-19: Surf Teams Race. Papamoa (Michael Bryant/Jackson Edwards/Daniel Kayes/Mason Pickering) 1, Midway (Chris Dawson/Mitchell Griffiths/Dylan Pahina/Cory Taylor) 2, Lyall Bay (Ryan Cox/Tyler Maxwell/Ciaran Ryan/Teina Stacey) 3. Board Relay. Midway (Chris Dawson/Dylan Pahina/Cory Taylor) 1, Lyall Bay (Ryan Cox/Jack Manners/Tyler Maxwell) 2, St Clair (Logan Garforth/Angus MacKenzie/Hamish McCulloch) 3. Beach Flags. Kodi Harman (Papamoa) 1, Toby Harris (Wainui) 2, Seth Forbes (Paekakariki) 3.
Under-16: Surf Teams Race. Midway (Mitchell Griffiths/Tayler Reid/Matthew Scott/Tyler Annancoe) 1, Mt Maunganui (Perry Farrell/Cameron Hayes/Matthew Hyde Andre Lee) 2, St Clair (Jamie Mowat/Hamish Taylor/Ossian Woods/Andrew Trembath) 3. Beach Flags. Adam Parker (Orewa) 1, Jake Hurley (Red Beach) 2, Kauri Cudd (Ocean Beach Kiwi) 3.
Open: Surf Teams Race. Mt Maunganui (Aimee Berridge/Emmanuelle Bescheron/Johanna O'Connor/Rebecca Lockwood) 1, Orewa (Georgia Butt/Rachel Clarke/Michayla Johnston/Nicole Rose-Warne) 2, Westshore (Lily Adsett/Katie Moodie/Larissa Cowlrick/Nikki Cox) 3. Ski Relay. Orewa (Georgia Butt/Rachel Clarke/Teneale Hatton) 1, Mairangi Bay (Madison Boon/Rachael Dodwell/Danielle McKenzie) 2, Mt Maunganui (Aimee Berridge/Emmanuelle Bescheron/Brooklyn Reardon-Nikara) 3. Board Relay. Mt Maunganui (Aimee Berridge/Katrina Madill/Arna Wright) 1, Mairangi Bay (Madison Boon/Rachael Dodwell/Danielle McKenzie) 2, Westshore (Katie Moodie/Larissa Cowlrick/Nikki Cox) 3. Beach Flags. Chanel Hickman (Mairangi Bay) 1, Naomi Young (Red Beach) 2, Alison Craigie (Muriwai) 3.
Under-19: Surf Teams Race.. St Clair (Jessie Schneiders/Lulu Schneiders/Canna Doyle/Jordy Fogarty) 1, Papamoa (Michaela Aitken/Natalie Peat/Nicole Van Der Kaay/Sarah Fraser) 2, Mt Maunganui (Vivien Conway/Amber Hyde/Cara Ryan/Jade Tuwhanagai) 3. Board Relay. Red Beach (Briar McLeely/Louise Aitken/Georgia Lloyd) 1, Papamoa (Kahleia Josephson/Natalie Peat/Kathryn Stewart) 2, Waikanae (Britta Carroll/Ashleigh Hurring/Grace Sharp) 3. Beach Flags. Casey Stevens (New Plymouth Old Boys) 1, Shamey King (Mt Maunganui) 2, Alice Dimond (Sumner) 3.
Under-16: Surf Teams Race. Red Beach (Kelsi Boocock/Briar McLeely/Madeline Readman/Courtney Spencer) 1, St Clair (Ellis Doyle/Jessie Schneiders/Lulu Schneiders/Olivia Stevens) 2, Lyall Bay (Hayley Cox/Gracen Luka/Karly Maxwell/Claudia Simpson) 3. Board Relay. Lyall Bay (Hayley Cox/Gracen Miller/Karly Maxwell) 1, Mt Maunganui (Adriana Bird/Jessica Miller/Katherine Wilson) 2, Wainui (Ashley Donaldson/Georgia Harris/Jasmine Smith) 3. Beach Flags. Madison Kidd (Whangamata) 1, Emily Hodges (Piha) 2, Olivia Eaton (New Plymouth Old Boys) 3.
Points:Papamoa 47, Mt Maunganui 41, Midway 37, Red Beach 32, Ocean Beach Kiwi 21, Lyall Bay 20, New Plymouth Old Boys 19, Mairangi Bay 14, St Clair and Orewa 12.