National Surf Life Saving Championship battle closes up

Friday, 18 March 2016

The population of Ohope Beach near Whakatane swelled overnight as 1,300 athletes moved into the area this morning for the second day of the Eastern Bay Energy Trust New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships.

Young athletes, aged 14 years and over, descended on the small Bay of Plenty town to fight for top honours in Surf Life Saving New Zealand's annual national championship which continues for another two days and finishes on Sunday.

Event manager, Prue Younger said: "It was awesome to welcome our younger athletes to the Eastern Bay Energy Trust New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championship today. They all did an incredible job out there and raced hard but fair, which is obviously great for the sport.

"We had quite a few close finishes today too but that just shows how hard these guys and girls train all year. It's great to see how dedicated and passionate these athletes are and I would encourage everyone to come down and see that for themselves."

Today's events included a run-swim-run event along with the tube rescue race, the double-ski race, the beach flags event and a series of canoe events.

Meanwhile, in the club championship, Mt Maunganui Lifeguard Service took the early lead with Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club in second and Fitzroy Surf Life Saving Club in third. Mere points separate clubs meaning athletes will be competing hard for every single point tomorrow.

First held over 100 years ago in 1915, the annual event has become a prominent fixture on SLSNZ's competition calendar and has helped many young New Zealanders represent their country on the world stage, along with the ever important job of saving lives.

The action continues again at Ohope Beach 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.

Click here for race-by-race results.