Upsets reigned on the first day of the Eastern Regional surf lifesaving championships, as a tricky swell caused havoc in Whangamata today.
The tone was set in the first race of the day, when 36-year-old Mount Maunganui veteran Damian Munro used every inch of his swimming nous to take out the surf race in the 1.5m, wind-ravaged waves. Munro headed home Midway teenager Cory Taylor, with another Midway athlete Shaun Pahina third.
Ocean Beach Kiwi's Hamish Beattie then trumped his clubmate and more established performer Scott Bicknell in the ski race, with 19-year-old Orewa paddler Jack Wilson finishing third and keeping Olympic kayaker Steven Ferguson (Piha) out of the medals.
The biggest upsets were saved for the boat arena, however, where selectors are preparing to name New Zealand representative men's and women's teams after this weekend's racing, to compete against the top Australian crews at Waihi Beach next month.
Omanu caused a boil-over in the women's short-course final, with Sharleen Irwin, Jo Lahmert, Kate Niederer, Leah Scown and sweep Ronald Dobbs heading home Orewa and Mairangi Bay, while the Whangamata men's crew won their final after Orewa broached while leading with the line in sight.
Whangamata's crew of Matthew Kibble, Thomas O'Donnell, Franco Staub and Rob McCaig was swept by the canny Andy Jujunevich, who also propelled the last great Whangamata men's crew to global dominance in the 1990s.
Papamoa teenager Natalie Peat continued her swimming reign in the open women's division, winning the surf race from her New Zealand under-20 teammate Carina Doyle (St Clair), while 17-year-old Katie Wilson (Mount Maunganui) headed off Mairangi Bay rival Danielle McKenzie in the board race final.
Accomplished kayaker Kayla Imrie (Paekakariki) was too strong in the ski race, heading home Olympian Teneale Hatton (Orewa) and Red Beach's Caitlin Ryan.
Evergreen spinter Morgan Foster (South Brighton) took home the beach flags crown and will be looking to add the beach sprint double tomorrow, while Fitzroy's Katie Watts won the women's beach flags.
The event is also doubling as the third round of the Sonic Race series and has attracted more than 800 athletes to the Coromandel Peninsula holiday spot.
Racing begins at 8am again tomorrow, with the feature ironman and taplin relays dominating the final day.
Visit events.surflifesaving.org.nz for more results from today's racing.
Omanu's Dan Hooker competing in the
board race at the Eastern Regional surf lifesaving championships in
Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Journalism