Six gold medals was a sweet way for Lucy Bartlett to sign off on her Eastern Region junior surf lifesaving career - now she has one more big carnival before hitting the senior ranks.
Over a sun and swell-drenched Whangamata weekend, the 14-year-old Omanu club member was one of the stars of the Eastern Regional junior championships, picking up four individual titles, two team golds and helping her club to the overall title.
On a big final day, she took out the board race, diamond race and surf race - having won the beach flags on Saturday - and helped anchor the tube rescue and board relay teams. As delighted as she was with her individual success, she was more thrilled with how her team had performed.
“It was a great couple of days - we’ve all been training really hard and we all put in a big effort over the weekend,” she explained. “And if we weren’t competing, we were down supporting each other, which is what it’s all about.”
It was also about the next generation of surf lifeguards getting experience in decent waves - Whangamata’s 1.5m swells the ideal recipe for the 500 carnival competitors, aged from 8-14.
While Omanu’s 187 points lead the standings, there were also notable performances from the host club - Sienna Casson’s three gold in the under-8 division helped them into second place on 136 points - and big teams from Mount Maunganui (99 points), Papamoa (52) and Waihi Beach (50).
Although featuring smaller teams, Gisborne clubs Midway and Waikanae punched above their weight, finishing sixth and eighth respectively; Midway were led by three golds from Ella Sutton in the under-11 division, while Waikanae’s Rubi Hart and Chloe Kapene helped their club dominate the under-12 division.
Elsewhere, Red Beach athlete Kaiha Gilbertson’s elation at winning bronze in the under-13 diamond race, finishing behind Whakatane star Jamie Julian and Mount Maunganui’s Gene Baggott.
“I’ve never even made the final before!” he jubilantly cried, before rushing off to share the excitement with his mates.
For most of the junior athletes, it was the final hit-out before the Oceans ’19 New Zealand under-14 championships in Mount Maunganui.
“It was so nice racing in waves and Oceans is only three weeks away so this was an ideal buildup for all of us,” Bartlett said.
For full results, go to this link: https://www.liveresults.co.nz/competition/212
Whakatane’s Jamie Julian on his way to victory in the under-13 diamond race at the Eastern Regional junior surf lifesaving championships in Whangamata over the weekend. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media.