A team of 10 surf lifesaving athletes are gearing up to represent New Zealand in Japan next week, where they'll take on six other countries while aiming for gold at the annual Sanyo Cup event.
Held at Momochi Seaside Park in Fukuoka, the event run by the Japan Lifesaving Association, is now in its 11th year and the New Zealand team are aiming for the top despite a young team.
New Zealand team coach, Danny Morrison, said it will be a tough but rewarding event for the team who are led by experienced competitors Cory Taylor and Casie Fyall as team captain and vice-captain respectively.
"The competition will be fierce, as there are so many great athletes from all over the world participating at the Sanyo Cup. The race format can be very challenging so every single race is vital to your overall success, and that's how we'll be tackling the event," he said.
They will be going head-to-head against athletes from Australia, USA, Great Britain, South Africa, Hong Kong and hosts Japan, at the beach which is known for being "really flat", unlike many of New Zealand's beaches.
However, it's the Australian team who will post the biggest challenge to the Kiwi team as the reigning champions, although Morrison says Japan shouldn't be underestimated either.
"Australia have won this event every year since it started in 2007 so they will no doubt be as strong as usual, but we also have to keep a close eye on Japan. Every year they are getting better and better, so we look forward to seeing how they've progressed this year and having a good battle with them."
This is also the first international event for many of these young athletes, who are also qualified lifeguards and patrol beaches around New Zealand throughout summer.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for our younger athletes to race on the international stage against some of the best in the world for the first time which is exciting for them. We are simply looking forward to seeing them compete to the best of their abilities and make everyone at home proud of their achievements, which we're certain they'll do," Morrison added.
Team captain Cory Taylor from Gisborne says the support they get from New Zealand is really important to the team, as is the iconic black cap.
"To race under the black cap is so exciting. Every time you put it on, it makes everything so much more real," he said.
Vice-captain Casie Fyall, also of Gisborne, echoed Taylor's sentiments and said, "I can't wait to race with the team and represent New Zealand again. Wearing the black cap can make people do some pretty amazing stuff, so I can't wait to see the team give it a crack and put their foot on the line with the best of the best."
They will be led by the management team of Danny Morrison (coach), Jack Gavin (assistant coach) and Steve Vaughan (manager) while in Japan.
Keep up to date with the team's progress by following them online here.
2018 Sanyo Cup team:
Casie Fyall, Waikanae (Vice-Captain)
Claudia Kelly, East End
Cory Taylor, Midway (Captain)
Hannah Baker, East End
Louis Clark, Taylors Mistake
Luther Maxwell, Lyall Bay
Macy Burns, Lyall Bay
Murdoch Finch, Omanu Beach
Olivia Corrin, Midway
Scott Cowdrey, Papamoa
Alana McIsaac, Media & Communications Manager
Phone 027 515 7157