2022 Surf Lifesaving Sports season wraps up with the bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships

Thursday, 14 April 2022

After numerous changes of location, the 2022 bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships went ahead at Mahia this weekend.  

The final fixture of the Surf Lifesaving Sport calendar ended the season on a high note with the top IRB crews from across the country gathering to battle it out and showcase their surf skills, fitness and experience.  

320 Competitors from 28 clubs formed 102 IRB crews to take part in the bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships with many acknowledging the hard work required to make the event happen despite Covid-19 challenges and location logistics. 

Sunset Beach was victorious, winning the overall Top Club title and also taking out the Top crew awards for the Open Male and Female divisions. 

The Sunset Open Female Crew of Taylor Shrimpton and Abigail Chapman won all five racing categories for the second year in a row. On their success, Sunset Coach, Athlete (and recently married to Taylor) Shane Edwards, commented “They’ve managed to sweep the Open Female division two years in a row, which is pretty phenomenal. They train against our Open Mens crews and so they are constantly pushing to beat us and get better each year”. 

He adds, “Going over to race in Australia is the next big goal, that’s keeping their hunger alive because it’s more competition. It keeps them training hard, racing fast and ticking off those names on the trophies. They want to make their mark on history and create a legacy.”   

Sunset’s second Open Female Crew (Samantha Coughlan and Michaela Housiaux Andrews) also picked up a silver and three bronzes, helping Sunset pick up a total of nine of a possible 15 medals in the Open Female division.  

Hoping to one day break Sunset’s dominance in the Open Female division are the Waikanae crew consisting of Britta Carrol and Ana Naden who kept the pressure on all weekend to finish with two silvers and a bronze.  

The Open Male Division also saw Sunset, Paekakariki and Waikanae divvy up the medals. Both of Sunset’s Open Male crews featured on the podium, getting gold and silver in the teams' race while the paring of Shane Edwards and Mark Edwards also picked up another 2 golds and 2 silvers. Waikanae Open Men (Connor Mitchell and Oliver Shivnan) picked up 3 medals in their debut year in the Open Division, most notably gold in Mass Rescue. 

In the Under 23 division, the Brighton Girls (Phoebe Aburn and Ali Adams) were named Top Crew with three golds and silver. While the Mens’ U23 competition saw an even spread of medals, St Kilda (Danyon Noakes and Matt Lloyd) proved to be the most consistent in picking up placings in every race to be the Top U23 Male crew.  

Nicolas McGlashan-Brice, St Kilda Club Captain and Senior Athlete said, “I think we performed pretty well. We’ve got a lot of new crews this year and got a lot of experience making a few first-ever finals... We’ve definitely loved this weekend. The teams have had smiles on their faces all this time. And they’ve had lots of fun and got heaps of experience. Which will all make us better next year so we can turn up even better.” 

The Under 19s saw Bethells Females (Maraea and Chelsey Whiu) win three gold along with one silver to be named as Top Crew in their division. Leonard Mead, Bethells Club Captain commended their achievement, “The Under 19 Girls did really well, they worked really hard. They’re good athletes. They put the time in, so they reaped the fruit... It’s exciting when something like this happens, it galvanises us.” 

Opunake ‘Oriental Express’ (Caleb Lawn and Sam Drought) took home two golds and a silver in the Under 19 Male Division to sneak past New Plymouth Old Boys ‘A’ crew by one point and be crowned the Top Crew. Attending the Championships for the first time in over a decade, the Spencer Park Under 19 crew of Zeke De Gouw and Tim Currey exceeded their own expectations, winning two bronzes. Spencer Park IRB Coach, Daryl Poulson plans to carry on growing from this year’s success, “Once you get a bit of momentum it’s easier to go because you become more visible.” 

A consistent theme at the Championship was the new talent emerging in IRB racing which is encouraging for New Zealand’s future in the international standings and can help spur our more experienced athletes to continued success. 

Jaron Mumby, SLSNZ IRB High-Performance Coach and Selector says, “We’ve got a lot of young talent that’s coming through and pushing some of the older crews. It’s great to see the increase in younger female crews especially but also the talent that’s coming with them. So, from a development and high performance perspective, we’re really enthusiastic about what we got to see this weekend.” 

He adds, “If we look at the crews that we currently have in the High Performance programme, they are performing really well. Our Open Men, Shane and Mark Edwards, and also our Open Females, Taylor Shrimpton and Abigail Chapman, both won the overall Open crew titles. Being reigning World Champions from 2018 and to still be at the top of their game is great to see. It’s also amazing to see some of this young talent that’s coming through that’s starting to push them and keep them honest.”   

The 2022 bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships coincided with the anniversary of the sinking of the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry, Wahine, on 10 April 1968. New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster saw the beginning of bp’s enduring support for Surf Lifesaving. In early 1968 Europa donated a new surf boat, ‘Miss Europa’ to the Worser Bay Surf Club which lifeguards used to help save the lives of the 683 passengers and crew aboard the sinking Wahine ferry. After this tragic event, Europa wanted to play a larger role in the communities in which it operated and began a new relationship with Surf Life Saving New Zealand. In 1990 the Europa brand was replaced by bp and the relationship between bp and SLSNZ became even stronger, evolving into the relationship that we now have today. 

bp Head of Country NZ Matt Elliott says, “bp’s incredible support for Surf Life Saving New Zealand began with the tragic Wahine disaster 54 years ago. We’re proud to continue this relationship at events like the bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships which is thrilling to watch and importantly helps lifeguards hone their life-saving skills.”   

This sentiment is echoed by Bethells Beach SLSC’s Leonard Mead, “In the end we’re lifeguards, we train to rescue people, that’s our primary focus. The sport is amazing, it makes us better lifeguards.” 

Click here for a PDF of 2022 bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships results. 

Photo credit - Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services