An emphatic Papamoa performance at the BP Surf Rescue NZ IRB championships in Whangamata has seen the Bay of Plenty club prise the overall club trophy away from Taranaki hands for the first time in nearly a decade.
Amid a difficult final day in tricky, blustery onshore conditions and heavy seas, Papamoa only picked up one win on the final day - an under-21 single rescue win by Michael Hoebergen and Nick Coulter - but their total team performance was enough to lift them 27 points clear of defending champions East End.
"It was all about consistency for us - we told the guys just to keep making finals and then see what happened from there," Papamoa coach Justin Martin explained. "That's exactly what they did and I'm so proud of them - I'm super, super happy at the moment."
In an illustrious 20-year racing career, Martin twice missed out on the overall prize with his former Wainui club so was thrilled to finally claim it, alongside long-time crewman Nathan Teutenberg.
It was doubly emotional for Coutler, dedicating his single rescue win to his grandfather, who passed away last week, while the team were also boosted by the return of twins Kirby and Chad Wheeler and Mitch Brady, who cut short travels overseas to come back and race.
Papamoa's first-ever overall honours broke a run of five straight wins by East End, with fellow Taranaki club Fitzroy winning three in a row before that. Sumner (2000 and 2005) and Spencer Park (2003) are the only other non-Taranaki clubs to have won the title since 1996, while Papamoa's victory is the first by a Bay of Plenty club since Mount Maunganui won consecutive crowns in 1990 and 1991.
Sumner's Steven Parrat and George Thomas were the big movers on the final day, grabbing both the premier single rescue and assembly rescue finals, which helped lift their club into eighth overall.
They couldn't match the consistency of Paekakariki's Richard Whinham and Mitch Logan, however, who filled each of the first four placings over the four premier divisions over the weekend to take the overall premier title. They also teamed with clubmates Tyler Mills and Dwight Garton to pick up silver in the event-ending open teams race.
"It was a pretty challenging final day, both with the conditions and carrying a few injuries," Whinham said, adding Logan had barely been able to see out of one eye after hitting his face yesterday. "This has been a long time coming and it's the result of a lot of hard work but it's pretty satisfying to finally win the title."
Sumner's final-day efforts were emulated by the East End crew of Kim Danz and Scott Nelson, who collected both titles in the senior division, as well as joining with Liam Cole and Joe Bracegirdle to win the open teams race.
The big shock came in the women's single rescue final, where Fitzroy's Katie Watts and Jamie-lee Reynolds dethroned reigning champions Steph and Carla Laughton (St Clair) and prevented them from claiming their third consecutive clean-sweep.
Watts is a former New Zealand beach flags champion, a silver medalist in that event two weeks ago, but this was her first national title as a driver. She previously paired with Emma Crofsky, dominating the women's division until Crofsky retired at the end of the 2011 season.
Her combination with Reynolds, the first women to ever claim the open/under-19 ironowmoman titles at the same nationals in 2006, also saw them pick up a silver and a bronze, although the Laughton sisters were again crowned overall women's winners.
Opunake's Thomas Bell and Jordan Hooper won overall honours in the under-21 division, while Sunset Beach's Shane Edwards and Samuel Dwen took out the senior division despite not completing the single rescue, after Edwards was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg in the heats.
St Clair's third placing overall meant they also took home the Arancia Trophy as the top South Island club, finishing 17 points clear of arch-rivals and neighbours St Kilda.
Premier: Sumner (Steven Parrat/George Thomas/Aimee Jones) 1, East End (Geoffrey Cronin/Campbell Begg/Sinead Malley) 2, Papamoa (Matthew Kemp/Ryan Wiggins/Alexandra Jean Baskin) 3.
Senior: East End (Kim Danz/Scott Nelson/Zoe Avison) 1, St Kilda (Michael Kinraid/Sam Kinraid/Molly Christmas) 2, Sunset Beach (Samual Dwen/Shane Edwards/Grace Poole) 3.
U21: Opunake (Thomas Bell/Jordan Hooper/Jemma Pentelow/Dylan Arlidge/Marlene Ruke) 1, East End (Liam Cole/Joe Brcegirdle/Jessica Cox) 2, Waimarama (Luke Harman/Travis Wainwright/Michael Harman) 3.
Women:St Clair (Carla Laughton/Stephanie Laughton/Esther Fogarty/Natasha Scott/Celia Bell) 1, St Kilda (Anja Waugh/Natalie Jane Reid/Katrina Andrew) 2, Opunake (Courtney Keech/Jemma Pentelow/Kallum Whitehead) 3.
Premier: Sumner (Steven Parrat/George Thomas/Aimee Jones) 1, Paekakariki (Dwight Garton/Tyler Mills/Amy Spiekerman) 2, Paekakariki (Richard Whinham/Mitchell Logan/Jordan Crosbie) 3.
Senior: East End (Kim Danz/Scott Nelson/Zoe Avison) 1, Papamoa (Paul Smith/Jason Watts/Marshall Wells) 2, North Beach (Bradley Freeman/Peter Taylor/Gianni Ruffino) 3.
U21: Papamoa (Michael Hoebergen/Nicholas Coulter/Sam Johnston) 1, East End (Liam Cole/Joe Bracegirdle/Jessica Cox) 2, Opunake (Thomas Bell/Jordan Hooper/Kallum Whitehead) 3.
Womens: Fitzroy (Jamie-lee Reynolds/Katie Watts/Natalie Walsh) 1, St Clair (Carls Laughton/Stephanie Laughton/Natasha Scott) 2, North Beach (Hallie Freeman/Jess Mather/Bailey Pouaka) 3.
East End (Kim Danz/Scott Nelson/Liam Cole/Joe Bracegirdle/Jessica Cos) 1, Paekakariki (Richard Whinham/Dwight Garton/Mitchell Logan/Tyler Miles/Amy Spiekerman) 2, Papamoa (Liam Smith/Jamie Vuglar/Thomas Berthelsen/Justin Martin/Nathan Teutenberg) 3.
Overall points: Papamoa 83, East End 56, St Clair 42, Paekakariki 39, Sunset Beach 36, Opunake 26, St Kilda 25, Sumner 24, Fitzroy 24, North Beach 18, Waimarama 17, Muriwai 13, Mairangi Bay 9, Ocean Beach Kiwi 7, Westshore 7, United North Piha 4, NPOB 3, Foxton 3, Taylors Mistake 2.
Housiaux Cup for Premier Assembly, Sumner SLSC (Steven Parrat/Geroge Thomas)
Don Wright Cup for Premier Single Rescue, East End SLSC (Kim Danz/Scott Nelson)
The West Coast Trophy for Premier Mass Rescue, Sumner SLSC
Dave Hickey Cup for Top U21 Team Opunake SLSC
Foxeng Trophy for Top Women Team St Clair (Clara Laughton/Stephanie Laughton)
Opunake Trophy for Top Senior Team Sunset Beach (Shane Edwards/Samual Dwen)
Arancia Trophy for Top Premier Trophy Paekakariki (Richard Whinham/Mitchell Logan)
Arancia Trophy for Top South Island Team St Clair SLSC
BP Club Trophy for Top New Zealand Club Papamoa SR
The Cannon for Open Teams Race East End SLSC
Paekakariki's Richard Whinham, running, and crewman Mitch Logan were the top overall premier crew at the 2014 BP surf rescue New Zealand IRB championships in Whangamata. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services