2021 sees six new inductees to Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s Sport Hall of Fame

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Media release

30 September 2021

2021 sees six new inductees to Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s Sport Hall of Fame

The Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLNZ) Sport Hall of Fame was established in 1990 with 15 people inducted. The second induction happened five years later in 1995, with the third taking place in 2007. The Hall of Fame acknowledges outstanding competitive surf sport performances by members of the organisation to remember their accomplishments and serve as inspiration for others. 2021 has proved to be an exceptional year with six new inductees taking well-deserved places in the SLSNZ Sport Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame Committee tackles a complex task, as there are many variables associated with comparing the surf sport performance of athletes across competitive disciplines.

One of this year’s inductees is Paul Cracroft-Wilson of Fitzroy Surf Lifesaving Club (SLSC). In the years following a departure from Taranaki and the black sands of Fitzroy for the Gold Coast in 2007, Paul’s ground-breaking achievements would build a legacy on a sport he participated in purely for enjoyment. After a first victory title in the 2005 Open Men’s division beach sprint, he defended the title again in 2006, 2007 and later on in 2016. Beach flags were Paul's speciality and a sport he dominated, winning him seven intermittent New Zealand championship titles from 2007 to 2016. Paul was an integral part of the unstoppable New Zealand Black Fins Teams that won Worlds in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Over the years, he also made first and second place at World Beach Flag competitions held in Egypt, Adelaide, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. 

Paul Cracroft-Wilson

Katie Watts and Emma Crofskey, also members of Fitzroy SLSC, have likewise been inducted to the Hall of Fame this year. In 2006 Emma jumped in an IRB with Katie for the first time, and with just six weeks of training, they walked away with gold in the tube rescue, silver in the single rescue and bronze in the mass rescue. This landed them the Foxton Shield and first equal as the top overall women’s team. They would go on to hold the title for the next five years - a feat that no other women’s crew in the country had achieved before. Katie and Emma also held roles on the Fitzroy club committee, patrol captained and coached throughout their racing careers. They are great role models for the generations to follow.

Katie Watts and Emma Crofskey

Steph and Carla Laughton of St Clair SLSC are remarkable members of Surf Lifesaving. They’ve pioneered as multi-disciplined female athletes and demonstrated longevity in their success across competitive sport domains. The pair have won national and international medals from 2008 until their retirement in 2019. This includes 17 gold IRB medals, one World gold and two World silvers, five Pool Champs golds, two Sand National golds and 30 medalled spots across all disciplines. They have spent considerable time as St Clair club committee members, instructors, examiners and patrol captains and always represented SLSNZ to the highest possible standard. Surf Lifesaving is better off as a movement thanks to Steph and Carla’s ongoing contribution. 

Steph and Carla Laughton

Finally, there is Samantha Lee of Lyall Bay SLSC - our most successful World Championship athlete ever. She’s made some exceptional sporting achievements during her Surf Lifesaving career. Samantha was a pivotal member of the history-making Black Fins team who won the overall world title at the 2012, 2014 and 2016 World Championships. She’s acquired six individual world titles between 2012 and 2016 and, in doing so, set several world records. Samantha was also named the top female competitor at the German Cup in 2013, 2015 and the Bene Cup in 2013 and claimed eight individual titles. Sam is “more than just a champion, Samantha is a champion person.” Humble, supportive and an amazing role model for many, she has continued to be involved at Lyall Bay, coaching and mentoring the young members since her retirement from the international stage in 2017.

Samantha Lee

This year's inductees are an amazing group of gifted athletes. We offer a massive congratulations to them and are incredibly proud of their astounding achievements and all they have contributed to Surf Lifesaving Sport.