Rookies reign at IRB nationals

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The upsets continued on a dramatic second day at the BP Surf Rescue NZ IRB championships in Whangamata.

With a 3m easterly swell spilling into the Coromandel holiday hotspot, organisers took the event around the corner to the more protected southern end of the beach, though the spills still came thick and fast.

In the midst of it, Papamoa's rookie premier crew of Tomee Berthelsen and Liam Smith - the latter a 16-year-old Tauranga schoolboy - stunned the more established inflatable rescue boat crews with victory in the  mass rescue final.

But they needed a fair bit of help to make it happen, most notably when East End's Geoff Cronin, comfortably in front, agonisingly tripped and fell inches from the line, allowing Berthelsen through.

"Going through my mind as I was running up the beach were some wise words from our coach Justin Martin, who told us at the start of the day 'never give up' so I just kept going right to the end," 25-year-old  Berthelsen said. "You never know what's going to happen in surf and this result showed it."

Compounding Cronin's misery was a disqualification - he was ruled not to have been on his feet when the timing lights were breached - which meant the two Paekakariki crews of Richard Whinham and Mitch Logan,  and Tyler Mills and Dwight Garton, grabbed the final podium places.

St Clair sisters Steph and Carla Laughton bagged yet another national title, winning the women's mass rescue final from multi-talented Fitzroy pair Katie Watts and Jamie-lee Reynolds, who are former national beach  flags and ironwoman champions respectively.

Papamoa tasted more success in the senior mass rescue final, where twins Chad and Kirby Wheeler out-dueled two Dunedin crews, St Clair's Isaac Davies and Michael Crombie, and St Kilda's Sam and Michael  Kinraid.

Westshore's Taylor Dick and Ryan Ennor were too quick in the under-21 mass rescue final, beating Opunake's Thomas Bell and Jordan Pentelow, with fellow Hawke's Bay products Samuel Lucy and Rhys Harman  (Waimarama) picking up bronze.

Boosted by their twin wins, Papamoa jumped out to a handy lead in the overall points tally with 43, 16 ahead of St Clair with Paekakariki and Sunset Beach third-equal on 18.

Tomorrow's final day will feature assembly rescue and single rescue finals, as well as the final of the open teams race.

Results from the second day of the BP Surf Rescue NZ IRB championships in Whangamata.

Mass rescue:

Premier: Papamoa (Liam Smith/Thomas Berthelsen/Lauren Dennehy) 1, Paekakariki (Richard Whinham/Mitchell Logan/Jordan Crosbie) 2, Paekakariki (Dwight Garton/Tyler Mills/Amy Spiekerman) 3.
Senior: Papamoa (Chad Wheeler/Kirby Sheeler/Hayley Elmsly/Kahleia Josephson) 1, St Clair (Michael Crombie/Isaac Davies/Molly Stewart/Celia Bell) 2, St Kilda (Michael Kinraid/Sam Kinraid/Molly Christmas) 3.
U21: Westshore (Taylor Dick/Ryan Ennor/Jessica Ennor) 1, Opunake (Thomas Bell/Jordan Hooper/Jemma Pentelow/Dylan Arlidge/Marlene Ruke) 2, Waimarama (Rhys Harman/Samuel Lucy/Kieran Morgan/Michael Harman/Luke Davis) 3.

Women: St Clair (Carla Laughton/Stephanie Laughton/Esther Fogarty/Natasha Scott/Celia Bell) 1, Fitzroy (Jamie-lee Reynolds/Katie Watts/Natalie Walsh) 2, North Beach (Hallie Freeman/Jess Mather/Bailey Pouaka/Gianni Ruffino) 3.

Overall points after two days: Papamoa 43, St Clair 27, Paekakariki 18, Sunset Beach 18, Fitzroy 17, Waimarama 12, Opunake 11, Sumner 10, St Kilda 9, Mairangi Bay 9, Westshore 7, East End 6, North Beach 5, Ocean Beach Kiwi 4, Muriwai 4, United North Piha 4, NPOB 3.


Papamoa's Liam Smith (crew) and driver Tomee Berthelsen on their way to victory in the premier mass rescue final at the BP Surf Rescue NZ IRB championships in Whangamata.  Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services.