Sonic finale for top NZ surf lifesavers

Friday, 22 February 2013

Some of New Zealand's best senior surf lifesaving athletes will line up at this week's Sonic Race Series finals to show the next generation how it's done.

A three-round ironman eliminator will be held during Friday and Saturday at the Oceans 13 New Zealand under-14 championships at Mount Maunganui's Main Beach, with a number of national titleholders racing.

The 10-strong men's field features three New Zealand representatives - Papamoa's Ben Johnston and Mount Maunganui pair Andrew Newton and Sam Shergold - as well as Great Britain star George Haynes and French representative Julien Lalanne.

Johnston is the top qualifier after injury ruled out Wainui's Ollie Puddick, who won three of the four ironman qualifying rounds this summer.

Omanu's Ben Cochrane, Papamoa's Michael Bryant and Lyall Bay's Tyler Maxwell will join two other Mount Maunganui athletes, Hamish Treanor and Perry Farrell.

The women's field also boasts some impressive contenders, including a quartet of teenagers who have dominated the open ranks this season.

Papamoa's Natalie Peat is the leading qualifier, though she'll be chased hard by her New Zealand under-20 teammate Danielle O'Connor (Mairangi Bay) and Mount Maunganui's Jess Miller and Katie Wilson.

"I loved racing at Oceans as a nipper and I'm looking forward to heading back to race in the sonic series final," Peat said. "The athletes racing at Oceans are the future of our sport so it's awesome for them to be able to watch our racing and pick up some tips for when they progress through to ironmen and ironwomen. The reality is that most of the females racing in the Sonic series were racing at Oceans three or four years ago so it's pretty exciting for the young athletes to be able to see how close these opportunities are for them."

Piha's Kirsty Wannan, Lyall Bay's Kelsey Moffat and Karly Maxwell, Papamoa's Kathryn Stewart, Mount Maunganui's Kaiwhetu Kipa and Omanu's Ashley Cochrane round out the field.

One eliminator round will be held on Friday afternoon, with another on Saturday morning, before the grand final on Saturday afternoon.

The contenders:

Men: Ben Johnston, Michael Bryant (Papamoa), Ben Cochrane (Omanu), Julien Lalanne, George Haynes, Andrew Newton, Perry Farrell, Sam Shergold, Hamish Treanor (Mount Maunganui), Tyler Maxwell (Lyall Bay).

Women: Natalie Peat, Kathryn Stewart (Papamoa), Katie Wilson, Jess Miller, Kaiwhetu Kipa (Mount Maunganui), Danielle McKenzie (Mairangi Bay), Kelsey Moffat, Karly Maxwell (Lyall Bay), Ashley Cochrane (Omanu), Kirsty Wanna (Piha).