Some of the world's top lifesavers will gather at Mount Maunganui at the end of the month as multiple nations come together for the DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge (ISRC).
Held every two years, the beach competition is based around a comprehensive competition programme conducted over three tests, which includes swim, surf board, surf ski and beach events.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand is proud to be hosting seven national Open teams and five Youth national teams including Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, Canada, Japan and the United States for the event starting on November 30.
The competition will be fierce as they attempt to stamp their mark on the event.
While the New Zealand Black Fins are the current World Champions, the Australians have a strong record of winning the International Surf Rescue Challenge.
They took out the 2013 test in Japan and in 2015 in Maroochydore, it came down to the wire as they narrowly beat the Black Fins by just two points with the United States in third and Japan in fourth.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand Sport Manager Mike Lord says the ISRC is a major event on the calendar and an important part of testing beach athletes on an international stage as part of their preparations for the 2018 Lifesaving World Championships.
He says the Australians are one of the Kiwi's top rivals and they will be looking at the DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge as a good opportunity to test themselves ahead of next year's World Championships.
"However, we can't look past other nations such as Great Britain and Japan who are likely to produce some strong competition as well," he says.
Australian Life Saving Team Head Coach Kurt Wilson says they are in full swing after a very successful hit out at the first round of the Ocean 6 Series.
"The team is really excited to get to New Zealand and step foot on Mount Maunganui's iconic coastline. Not having raced in New Zealand since 2011, the team sees the DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge as a real opportunity to race against the best in the world in what's always challenging conditions. With the countdown under 20 days until guns up, the team is raring to go and will use round two of the Ocean 6 Series as a final polish up heading into the ISRC," he says.
Black Fins coach Jason Pocock says the team is in great shape and they're all really excited about the opportunity to race in New Zealand for the first time as World Champions.
"We can't wait to show the community what the Black Fins are about and what we can do as a group," he says.
The New Zealand Black Fins will be led by Ironman Max Beattie who has been a member of the 2012, 2014 and 2016 World Championship Black Fins teams along with the 2013 and 2015 ISRC teams.
Beattie says any time you can represent your country on home sand in front of family and friends is pretty special.
"Similar to last year's World Championship team, we have picked a really versatile group of athletes and we're all really looking forward to racing in front of a home crowd, he says.
"Right now, we aren't worried about the result. We are concentrating on taking it race-by-race, supporting each other, and the result will look after itself."
The first test will take place on Thursday November 30 followed by Test Two on Saturday December 2 and Test Three on Sunday December 3.
Please click here for more information about the event.
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Manager, SLSNZ
Phone 0276 488 823