Almost 300 athletes competed in the first day of the Eastern Bay
Energy Trust New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships at Ohope
Beach today, with Omanu Surf Life Saving Club taking the overall
day win in the Masters category.
Dubbed Surf Nationals, the event which takes place over four days from March 17-20, started with the "Masters" category today which saw competitors aged 30 years and over fight it out for top honours.
Event favourites from the Mt Maunganui Lifeguard Service ended up second in the Masters standings today, with local team Whakatane Surf Life Saving Club rounding out the podium in third.
Event manager Prue Younger, said: "Today was a fantastic first day of Surf Nationals and it was great to see so many of our Masters [over 30-year-old athletes] out there enjoying the event and everything Ohope [Beach] has to offer.
"We were also very fortunate with the weather because despite the forecast and the high-cloud, we never saw any rain which is obviously a huge bonus. We also can't wait to see what tomorrow brings, especially with our 1,300 younger athletes showing up who will create some close racing I'm sure."
The oldest competitor taking part in today's events was 85 year old Sid Salek from Omanu Surf Life Saving Club in Tauranga, who finished second in his age group for both the beach flags and beach sprint races.
An additional 1,300 athletes will descend on the Whakatane beach in the morning for the next three days of competition, bringing the total number of competitors to over 1,500 for the four-day event.
Surf Nationals continues at Whakatane Surf Life Sacing Club tomorrow from 8am and will continue all day. Spectator entry to the event is free and there are plenty of food, drink and clothing stalls on-site.
Full race-by-race results are available on our website here.