Every year, the Eastern Regional Championships draws in some of the country's top surf lifesavers and this year is no exception.
Over 800 athletes from 31 clubs around New Zealand will take part in the event at Mount Maunganui from January 28-29 and among them are a number of Olympians, Black Fins and New Zealand Representative athletes.
Mount Maunganui club member Lisa Carrington will join fellow Olympian Marty McDowell representing Titahi Bay and former Olympian, turned coach, Steve Ferguson representing Piha.
Four of the 2016 World Lifesaving Champion Black Fins; Laura Quilter (Wainui), Olivia Eaton (Mt Maunganui), Devon Halligan (Omanu) and Max Beattie (Omanu) will also join the line up alongside eight of the 12 Junior Black Fins; Hannah Williams (Piha), Zac Reid (Fitzroy), Hamish Miller (Mt Maunganui), Javon McCallum (Fitzroy), Jamie Gedye (Waikanae), Libby Bradley (Mt Maunganui), Alaynah Bettany (Lyall Bay) and Daniel Barron (Mt Maunganui).
The Eastern Regional Championships has long been one of the biggest surf lifesaving carnivals, second only to the national champs (New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Championships) which takes place in early March.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand Eastern Region Sport Manager Mark Inglis says the event has a proud history and they hope to continue the event's success this year with the introduction of twilight racing on the Saturday night for beach events.
"It's an exciting new initiative. The intention is to speed up the large programme throughout the weekend and ultimately result in less conflict of events," he says.
Three clubs will travel from the South Island for the event; a group of 16 athletes from Dunedin's St Clair and another 16 from Christchurch clubs South Brighton (10) and North Beach (6).
Travelling furthest from the North is Red Beach and Orewa who have the largest contingents with 88 and 79 respectively. Hosts Mt Maunganui have the third largest group with 75 athletes followed by Auckland's Piha (72) and Mairangi Bay (54).
Events include Beach Sprint, Beach Flags, Run Swim Run, Surf Race, Board Race, Ski Race, Diamond Race, Ironman, 2km Beach Run, Beach, Board and Ski Relays, Board rescue and Taplin with the action beginning at 8am on Saturday.
Surf Boats and Canoes will also form part of the racing with over 70 crews taking part in short and long course races.
Entries by club:
Red Beach- 88
Mt Maunganui- 75
Mairangi Bay- 54
Omanu Beach- 43
East End - 23
Waihi Beach- 23
Ocean Beach Kiwi- 22
Lyall Bay- 20
Wainui - 17
St Clair- 16
South Brighton- 10
Titahi Bay- 10
Palmerston North- 8
New Plymouth Old Boys- 7
North Beach- 6
Bethells Beach- 5
Omaha Beach- 3
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Manager, SLSNZ
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823