Titahi Bay heralded a new chapter in one of the fiercest rivalries in New Zealand sport when they handed the Piha surf boat crew a rare defeat on their home beach yesterday.
It's been a tough week for the Kapiti Coast crew, left out of the New Zealand team to face their Australian counterparts in Waihi Beach next week.
That spot instead went to reigning national champions Piha, an experienced outfit swept by Mark Bourneville, who were looking to celebrate their national call-up with victory in the Piha Big Wave Classic.
Someone forgot to tell the young Titahi Bay tyros, however.
Amidst perfect 3m surf, glassy and lully with the hint of an off-shore breeze, Titahi Bay's Jono Boyd, Jordan Te Paa, Nick Boyd, Charles Graham and sweep Wil McDowell snatched a dramatic final by outgunning Piha on the final wave home.
"It was pretty much perfect for us today," a jubilant Jono Boyd explained. "There were great waves but there was also a lot of rowing out to the cans and back which people thought was one of our downfalls - we more than held our own. We've never lacked motivation to beat Piha but it really added to it over the last week and we were determined to work even harder. That hard work has all been paying off and we're just trying to maintain this level until nationals."
With most of the crew still under-23, Titahi Bay are rebuilding a proud surf boat legacy at the club, which has gathered a cluster of national titles. They can now add a national series title, with the youngsters now claiming wins in two of the first three rounds, with only the Waihi event to come.
As Boyd points out, their comparative youth is relative to how many years they've all been pulling oars.
"People say we're a young crew but we've been rowing together for about seven years. We're not lacking experience in any conditions and all those years of rowing are paying off. Rowing together for so long has meant we've got pretty good cohesion in the boat too."
That helped in the dramatic final, with McDowell edging the boat sideways near the end to pull down the winning wave, while Piha slipped off the back. Red Beach finished a wave back in third, while carnage reigned in the rest of the field as a set came sweeping through.
Elsewhere, however, the home beach advantage definitely proved its worth.
The Piha open women's crew of Katrina Gouldstone, Gracey Monteith, Annelies Visser, Mariska Visser and sweep Dan Clarke grabbed their first notable victory by storming home in their final, beating another fast-rising crew, Omanu into second. Red Beach, who at one stage snapped a sweep oar in two places, came home third.
The Piha Pistols continued their remarkable reign with another win in the under-23 ranks - in seven years of racing together, Cedric Bourneville, Ludovik Bourneville, Oliver Sawbridge, Benjamin Richards and Jean-Paul Smit have only lost once through the under-19 and under-23 grades.
Bethells Beach won both the under-21 and under-19 women's divisions, while the strong Tannum Sands crew from Queensland were outstanding in taking out the under-19 men's final.
The final round of the national series is the North Island championships in Waihi Beach next weekend, which will feature the trans-Tasman row-off on the Saturday, followed by the champion of champion race on the Sunday.
Open men: Titahi Bay (Wil McDowell/Jono Boyd/Jordan Te Paa/Nick Boyd/Charles Edward Graham) 1, Piha A (Mark Bourneville/Chris Morris/Ben Scott/Scott Lissington/Benjamin Richards) 2, Red Beach (Chris McCullough/Duncan Reid/Gordon Williams/Nick Laurie/Lance Hammond) 3, Piha Boomers (Shane O'Halloran/Hayden Smith/Jed Wright/Myles Bowker/Sam Hibbard/Hugh McCarroll) 4, North Beach (Dean Isherwood/Todd Isherwood/David Pipe/Hayden Riach/Matthew John Richardson/Lee James Todd/Justin Robbins) 5, Tannum Sands (Tony Davis/Ian Oakhill/Matthew Bellert/Christopher Hughes/Shannon Chynoweth) 6.
Open women: Piha (Katrina Gouldstone/Gracey Monteith/Annelies Visser/Mariska Visser/Dan Clarke) 1, Omanu Beach (Leah Scown/Ronald Dobbs/Sharleen Irwin/Jo Lahmert/Kate Niederer) 2, Red Beach (Kelly Andrew/Ashleigh Jenkins/Lorraine Murray/Madison Smith/Zita Talaic/Craig Dillon) 3, Bethells Beach (Alice Baker/Hilary Baker/Katie Blackwell) 4, Mairangi Bay (Hayley Moffitt/Alexandra Walton/Ashleigh Grant/Amelia Lowe/Rachel Lockwood/Wok Donnelly) 5.
Under-23 men: Piha Pistols (Mark Bourneville/Cedric Bourneville/Ludovik Bourneville/Oliver Sawbridge/Benjamin Richards/Jean-Paul Smit) 1, Piha Pirates (Ben Flight/Rhye Jacka/Nicholas Mackenzie/Shamus O'Halloran/Shane O'Halloran) 2, Mairangi Bay (Joshua Everitt/Christopher Bryant/Kostya Seleznev/Sam Howard/Terry Burbridge) 3, Paekekariki (Kurt Walsh/Samuel Perry/Vincent Cunningham/Steve Dickson/Ethan Atkinson) 4.
Under-21 women: Bethells Beach (Elly Bray/Madeline Disberry/Nikita Parkin/David Oldham/Olivia Sale) 1, Muriwai (Andrea Gerrard/Billi-Lee Haresnape/Ashley Timoko/Alice Rowland/Chris Deacon) 2, Paekakariki (Katie Burgess/Netta Cagney/Andrea De Atouguia/Ursula Gordon/Steve Dickson) 3.
Under-19 men: Tannum Sands (Matthew King/Jackson Reading/William Badyk/Ryan Keating/Phillip Massingham) 1, Bethells Beach (Luke Good/Jesse Lawson/Lee Maxlow/Joel Scheepens/Hira Edmonds) 2, Piha (Grant Buchanan/Tom Jacob/Fraser Loughlin/Tyler Waters/Tom Rasmussen) 3, Sunset Beach (Jack Boulton/Ryan Brash/Carl Morgan/Jack Morgan/Edward (Ted) Marsh) 4.
Under-19 women: Bethells Beach (Nicole Jamieson/Cherry Reihana/Lindsay Cleaver/Stephanie Hefford/Hira Edmonds) 1, Paekakariki (Katie Burgess/Netta Cagney/Andrea De Atouguia/Ursula Gordon/Steven Dickson) 2,
Titahi Bay open mens crew. Photo thanks to Jun Tunlayco/juntanlaycosports.com