Lucy Makaea made the perfect start to Oceans 15 but the Orewa surf lifesaver hopes to build on her golden haul over the next three days of the New Zealand under-14 championships.
Makaea showed her versatility by winning both the under-14 beach flags and run-swim-run titles on the opening day in Mount Maunganui. It's the first time she's claimed that particular double, although last year she won the beach sprint and the run-swim-run and in 2012, claimed the diamond race, flags and board race.
"Last year I bombed out in the flags and got 12th - I just had the wrong mind-set and was thinking really negatively but this year was heaps better," the Avondale College student said. "I really want gold in the diamond race - this is my last year and I want to go out with a bang."
The talented teen headed off good friend and rival Sophie Hildesley (Red Beach) and Bethells Beach's Brooke Whiu in the flags, while Alaynah Bettany (Lyall Bay) was second in the run-swim-run and Makaea's teammate Eve Thomas, in her first year of surf lifesaving, was third.
Makaea wasn't alone in her spectacular deeds, however - Astaria Te Aukura, who answers to "Star", lived up to her name in the under-12 ranks, with the Mairangi Bay talent also taking out both finals, on the sand and in the water.
The gold medals were spread far and wide on the first day, with Wellington pair Sam Brown (Maranui) and Ella Court (Worser Bay) taking out the under-11 boys run-swim-run and girls beach flags respectively, with Taranaki surf rookie Slade Bristowe (East End) blazing to victory in the under-14 boys beach flags.
Hawke's Bay's Mahina Ross (Westshore) took home gold in the under-11 girls run-swim-run, while Wainui's Saffi Vette claimed Gisborne's only opening-day gold in the under-13 girls flags.
Red Beach pair Angus Henare (under-12 flags) and Jonathon Selman (under-13 run-swim-run) helped their club share the overall lead with Orewa, on 11 points, but elsewhere it was the local clubs dominating.
Mitchell Irwin led home a memorable Omanu treble in the under-13 flags, heading off clubmates Colby Brennan and Thomas Friskney, while Blake West (Papamoa) won the under-11 flags.
Mount Maunganui swimmers Lochlainn O'Connor (under-14 boys), Isabella Akroyd (under-13 girls) and Daniel Shanahan (under-12 boys) each won titles, helping the host club to second-equal with Papamoa.
U14 Boys Flags. Slade Bristowe (East End) 1, Xander Cuff (Orewa) 2, Ben Kelsey (Orewa) 3.
U14 Girls Flags. Lucy Makaea (Orewa) 1, Sophie Hildesley (Red Beach) 2, Brooke Whiu (Bethells Beach) 3.
U13 Boys Flags. Mitchell Irwin (Omanu) 1, Colby Brennan (Omanu) 2, Thomas Friskney (Omanu) 3.
U13 Girls Flags. Saffi Vette (Wainui) 1, Sophia Clark (Piha) 2, Lily Roper (Mt Maunganui) 3.
U12 Boys Flags. Angus Henare (Red Beach) 1, Zach Goldsmith (Taylors Mistake) 2, Kian Grey (Papamoa) 3.
U12 Girls Flags. Astaria Te Aukura (Mairangi Bay) 1, Sakura Gardiner (Red Beach) 2, Hannah Cotter (Westshore) 3.
U11 Boys Flags. Blake West (Papamoa) 1, Ben Moir (Whakatane) 2, Oliver Howarth (Red Beach) 3.
U11 Girls Flags. Ella Court (Worser Bay) 1, Manaia Peina (Papamoa) 2, Mihiroa Pauling (Waimairi) 3.
U14 Boys Run-Swim-Run. Lochlainn O'Connor (Mt Maunganui) 1, Atakura Julian (Lyall Bay) 2, Liam Moffatt (Papamoa) 3.
U14 Girls Run-Swim-Run. Lucy Makaea (Orewa) 1, Alaynah Bettany (Lyall Bay) 2, Eve Thomas (Orewa) 3.
U13 Boys Run-Swim-Run. Jonathon Selman (Red Beach) 1, Michael Pickett (Waikanae) 2, Joe Collins (Fitzroy) 3.
U13 Girls Run-Swim-Run. Isabella Akroyd (Mt Maunganui) 1, Daisy Davis (Otaki) 2, Sasha Reid (Fitzroy) 3.
U12 Mens Run-Swim-Run. Daniel Shanahan (Mt Maunganui) 1, Nathan Proctor (Waikanae) 2, Copper Gibson (Papamoa) 3.
U12 Girls Run-Swim-Run. Astaria Te Aukura (Mairangi Bay) 1, Sophie Irving (Maranui) 2, Lucy Manu (Papamoa) 3.
U11 Boys Run-Swim-Run. Sam Brown (Maranui) 1, Gus Shivnan (Omanu) 2, Noah Makaea (Orewa) 3.
U11 Girls Run-Swim-Run. Mahina Ross (Westshore) 1, Erika Fairweather (St Clair) 2, Emily Pilbrow (Papamoa) 3.
Points (after first day): Red Beach and Orewa 11, Papamoa and Mt Maunganui 10, Omanu 8, Mairangi Bay 6, Maranui 5, Waikanae, Westshore and Lyall Bay 4, East End, Worser Bay and Wainui 3, Taylors Mistake, Piha, St Clair, Fitzroy, Whakatane and Otaki 2, Waimairi and Bethells Beach 1.
Lucy Makaea (front left) on her way to beach flag success, the first of two opening-day gold medals at the Oceans 15 New Zealand under-14 surf lifesaving championships in Mount Maunganui. Story & photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services.