Celebrating one year since the Black Fins became back to back World Champions

Monday, 21 September 2015

This time last year, the New Zealand Black Fins were re-writing history as the first NZ surf lifesaving team, and the first nation other than Australia, to win back-to-back titles at the Lifesaving World Championships.

In true world champion style the team of 12, led by Dunedin's Andrew McMillan, finished off the day (September 21, 2014) as they started- on a high note, winning gold in the Men's Taplin.

The Black Fins finished ahead of Australia with France, the host nation, in third to hold on to the Alan B. Whelpton, AO Trophy.

They were led by the management team of coaches Scott Bartlett and Jason Pocock, managers Mark Weatherall and Steve Vaughan, physio Susan Perrit and Doctor Caroline Stuart.

At the time, Mr Weatherall said it was very difficult to explain the jubilation but creating history for New Zealand was an amazing feeling.

Looking back, he says it was great to be involved in creating something incredible that day in France. Winning back to back world titles is something very special, he says.

Mr Weatherall says the year has gone very quickly and a lot has been achieved recently between the Sanyo Cup, Australian Pool Championships and the International Surf Rescue Challenge. Planning is also well underway for the German Cup in November.

"There is still plenty of work to do for the lead-up to Rescue 2016 with camps and workshops. As we strive to ensure we win again in 2016 we will need to be better than ever," he says.

Lyall Bay's Samantha Lee was one of the Black Fins lucky enough to hold the trophy in both 2012 in Australia and again at Recue 2014 in France.

The Wellingtonian says it's crazy to think that it's already been a year since the Black Fins won. "I can still remember running around the beach while the last few events were on, counting the points between us and Australia," she says.

Sam says the excitement of waiting at the finish line for that last race is something she'll never forget.

"Coming into the men's taplin, we knew that we just had to finish to win and with Croffy (Paul Cracroft-Wilson) getting the run up the beach, it was really the best way to finish off worlds for us!"

Winning in 2012 was great because it had been so long since NZ had won worlds and the team were definitely the underdogs, she says. "Whereas going into 2014, we were the reigning world champs and being hunted down by the other teams, so to come out on top was fantastic!

"I'm really looking forward to seeing our momentum continue to build over the next 12 months leading into Rescue 2016, where we're all looking for a three-peat!"

The 23 year-old currently holds the title for winning the most Lifesaving World Championship gold (individual and team) medals, with seven.

She has achieved this over six years or three world cup campaigns. Surf lifesaving Legend Cory Hutchings, who competed in five world cup campaign over 10 years, holds five golds.

He still holds the most overall medals to his name with a total of 14 medals; five gold, five silver and three individual bronze along with one silver team medal.

Sam is close behind with a total of 11 medals; four gold and two silver individual medals plus three gold and two silver team medals. Taranaki sprinter Calum Taylor is next on the tally with a total of eight medals followed by former New Zealand team captain Morgan Foster with seven.

She says it's surreal that she's won the most world champ golds ever for a Kiwi athlete because New Zealand has produced so many phenomenal athletes.

"I've been fortunate enough to have been a part of three world champs that have all gone really well for me and hopefully there's still more to come for myself and the Black Fins," she says.

Black Fins coach Jason Pocock says the back to back win has created a line in the sand for the team around what is required to be successful and how they should perform with the black cap on.

"I think this has been highlighted by our athletes' performances both in the pool and on the beach since last September, he says.

"In the year ahead, we have some really clear goals around being technically better than the rest of the world in the pool and controlling our preparation to ensure we are in as good a shape as we can possibly be to ensure we are successful.

"We are putting together some plans to ensure we don't forget all of the athletes and supporters who have helped us along in this journey," he says.

To keep up-to-date with the team's journey visit the SLSNZ High Performance Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @slsnzhp.


Photo by Barbara Newton

For more information, please contact:

Lisa Honeybone, Media & Communications Specialist, SLSNZ
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823