A new wave of talent arrived with the big swell at Whangamata Beach today, just in time for the opening day of the BP Surf Rescue New Zealand IRB championships.
With the waves expected to rise to 2.5m over the weekend, organisers brought forward the programme, managing to get through all the tube rescue finals and tackling the teams race heats and mass rescue amid torrents of action.
The premier tube rescue final saw a changing of the guard, with Paekakariki pair Richard Whinham and Mitch Logan grabbing their first title in that division, along with patient Jordan Crosbie.
They finished ahead of Fitzroy veteran Todd Cations-Velvin, who paired with his young nephew Steven Haami for their first premier medal, while Papamoa's Liam Smith and Tomee Berthelsen took home bronze.
The senior tube rescue final confirmed the rapid emergence of Sunset Beach pair Shane Edwards and Samuel Dwen, who took home gold in their first year in the division and guaranteeing elevation to the premier ranks next season.
Capping a good day for the club from the mouth of the Waikato River was Sunset's under-21 crew of Lewis Powell and Bryce Nichol, who finished ahead of Papamoa and Opunake crews.
While new talent emerged in the male divisions, the female ranks saw a continuation of the status quo, with St Clair sisters and reigning tube rescue world champions Steph and Carla Laughton mastering the tricky waves to defend their national title.
Sumner's Megan Keats and Sarah Truscott were a close second, while multi-talented Fitzroy pair Katie Watts and Jamie-lee Reynolds - former national beach flags and ironwoman champions respectively - snatched bronze courtesy of Watts' fleet feet.
Results from the first day of the 2014 BP surf rescue New Zealand IRB championships in Whangamata today:
Premier: Paekakariki (Richard Whinham/Mitchell Logan/Jordan Crosbie) 1, Fitzroy (Todd Cations-Velvin/Steven Haami/Natalie Walsh) 2, Papamoa (Liam Smith/Thomas Berthelsen/Jamie Vuglar)3.
Senior: Sunset Beach (Samual Dwen/Shane Edwards/Grace Poole) 1, Mairangi Bay (Jake Clarke Smith/Luke Stanley Smith/Ashton Reiser) 2, Papamoa (Chad Wheeler/Kirby Wheeler/Kahleia Josephson) 3.
Under-21: Sunset Beach (Lewis Powell/Bryce Nichol/Samantha Coughlan) 1, Papamoa (Ross Cowdrey/Hamith Smith/Jake Cowdrey) 2, Opunake (Thomas Bell/Jordan Hooper/Dylan Arlidge) 3.
St Clair (Carla Laughton/Stephanie Laughton/James Coombes) 1, Sumner (Megan Keats/Sarah Truscott/Maijon Calcutt) 2, Fitzroy (Jamie-lee Reynolds/Katie Watts/Natalie Walsh) 3.
Points after day one: Papamoa 20, Sunset Beach 14, Fitroy 11, St Clair 10, Sumner 10, Waimarama 7, Paekakariki 7, Mairangi Bay 6, Opunake 5, St Kilda 4, United North LS, 4, East End 3, NPOB 3.
St Clair sisters Carla (crew) and Steph Laughton made a great start to the 2014 BP surf rescue New Zealand IRB championships in Whangamata, winning the tube rescue on the opening day. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services.
Papamoa's Tomee Berthelsen looms large over Fitzroy's Michael Watts during the open teams race heats at the 2014 BP surf rescue New Zealand IRB championships in Whangamata. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services.