10 reasons to come to nationals

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

It's one of the oldest national championships in this country and this year, the State New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships return to Mount Maunganui for a four-day carnival.  This will be the 91st running of the championships since the first in Napier in 1915 and the eighth time they've been held on Mount Maunganui's Main Beach.

Nearly 1700 competitors will line up representing 48 clubs from across New Zealand, with a number of international athletes also attending.  Action begins on Thursday with nearly 400 masters (30+) athletes and continued through Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the under-16, under-19 and open divisions.

The Surf Life Saving New Zealand media team have come up with a few must-watch features from the championships:

  • Titahi Bay and Piha have resumed their age-old boating battle this season, with short-course and long-course honours up for grabs.  Titahi Bay's "Wolf Pack" have plenty to prove after Piha won the New Zealand spot to compete against Australia's best last month.
  • The Mount Maunganui women's beach relay team is going for their 10th consecutive title, with former world champion Holly Moczydlowski having appeared in every one.
  • Another sprinting legend Morgan Foster was in the South Brighton team that won 10 men's beach relay titles on the trot (or sprint) until Mairangi Bay won in 2011. Foster, now a Hamilton fireman, has just turned 37 and is still chasing his 10th beach flags win, having won the last in 2006.
  • London Olympians Steve Ferguson (Piha), Lisa Carrington (Mount Maunganui), Darryl Fitzgerald (Waikanae) and Andy McMillan (St Clair) are all competing this week.
  • In the last 20 years, there have only been five different winners of the ironman title, with three different winners (Dan Moodie, Chris Moors, Max Beattie) in the last three years
  • Omanu's ranks have been boosted by a trio of Australians, Zac Orchard, Alicia Bain and Eliza Smith.  Star sprinter Melissa Howard is also over competing for Fitzroy, as is young Jake Mispelhorn, while another Aussie flyer Hayley Whyper will line up with Mairangi Bay.
  • Seven of New Zealand's world title-winning Black Fins team will be competing - Max Beattie, Kevin Morrison, Paul Cracroft-Wilson, Steve Ferguson, Andy McMillan, Nikki Cox and Chanel Hickman.  This is likely to be Cox's last nationals as she is heading overseas, while five-time NZ flags champion Cracroft-Wilson will have his first race back since knee surgery.
  • With defending champion Devon Halligan out and Nikki Cox competing in team events with her younger sister Olivia, Orewa's Rachel Clarke is the only one in a strong field with a New Zealand ironwoman title, opening the door for a number of rising young stars like Natalie Peat (Papamoa). Danielle McKenzie (Mairangi Bay) and Mount Maunganui's Katie Wilson.
  • Host club Mount Maunganui will feature something of a United Nations after a number of international athletes based themselves at the club over summer. French trio Julien Lalanne, Mickael and Adrien Lambolez, English representative George Haynes and countrymen Steven Gregory and Robert Sheard and Canadian Marie-Helene Paquette will all turn out for their adopted club.  Another London Olympian will also compete for the club with ski paddler Josh Utanga having represented Cook Islands in London last year.
  •  A number of athletes will back up from kayaking's GP3 regatta in Sydney. including double gold-winning Lisa Carrington (Mount Maunganui), Darryl Fitzgerald (Waikanae), Scott Bicknell (Ocean Beach Kiwi) and Caitlin Ryan (Red Beach).

For more information:

Jamie Troughton, Sports Media Services

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