Unsettled Kapiti Coast weather could be a large and lumpy factor in the opening round of surf lifesaving's national surf boat series on Saturday.
The Paekakariki club will host the Wellington Super Surf Boat Event for the third year in a row and club spokesman John Hook is eyeing a rising swell with cross-shore winds.
"We're getting various reports of between a metre and up to 3m but I'm picking it will be at the lower end," Hook said. "It promises to be a really good test though and means the sweeps will be kept busy picking their lines."
Nearly 40 crews from around New Zealand will compete over six divisions, with an increase in numbers from last year indicating the steady growth of surf boat racing.
There's also the carrot of test selection on this event and the second round in Whangamata in January, with the top men's and women's crews heading across the Tasman next year to compete at the ASRL Open at Newcastle's Stockton Beach.
The open men's charge will once again be led by Piha, who won a historic third consecutive double (short and long-course) at the national championships in Mount Maunganui earlier this year.
The Mark Bournville-swept crew warmed up for this weekend with victory in the annual Pub to Club long distance race at Red Beach earlier this month.
They'll resume their sharp rivalry with Titahi Bay, who boast a young crew and the benefit of training just down the coast, while Red Beach have former Piha sweep Bugsy O'Halloran sweeping for them this year. Other strong contenders include hosts Paekakariki, Orewa, Lyall Bay and a triple-pronged entry from Taranaki's East End.
The New Zealand test spot for the open women is wide open, however, with last season's representatives Mairangi Bay disbanding, as well as the long course national title-winning Mount Maunganui crew.
Omanu, Orewa and Red Beach should all be highly competitive, with Red Beach going into this weekend as defending champions.
The women's ranks now feature both an under-23 and under-19 division, matching the men's divisions for the first time.
The other change sees the Paekakariki club, which recently celebrated its centenary at Labour Weekend, take over full hosting of the event from Surf Life Saving New Zealand.
"This is the third year we've hosted it and we've got a good crew running things who know what they're doing," Hook said. "It's a pretty well-oiled machine these days and we're proud to be the hosts."
The Piha men's boat crew competing at the Wellington round of the New Zealand surf boat series on Dec 1, 2012. Photo by Jun Tunlayco - www.juntanlaycosports.com
For more information, contact John Hook on 0274 452 288