Surf crew ready

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

There’s not a lot of rest com­ing up for Ti­tahi Bay’s cham­pion open men’s surf crew, with their biggest test com­ing this week against their Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts.

The team of Ben Ashby, Tim Mars­den, Dean El­lis, Paul McVicar and new­comer Jamie Fitzger­ald ( re­plac­ing Chris Martin) have been dom­i­nant in the open­ing two rounds of the New Zealand Surf Boat Se­ries, held in Ti­tahi Bay and Whanga­mata.

Na­tional se­lec­tors used these com­pe­ti­tions to se­lect their crew to take on the Aus­tralian and Bri­tish crews, here for the DHL In­ter­na­tional Surf Chal­lenge at Mount Maun­ganui.

McVicar, the crew’s sweep, says it’s al­ways hard to pre­dict how they will fare against their foes from across the Tas­man. Sheer de­ter­mi­na­tion and the odd slice of good for­tune are al­ways in the mix on any given day of com­pe­ti­tion.

There will be three races over three days and the Aus­tralians will have re­venge on their minds.

‘‘We beat them on their home turf [in Bris­bane last Fe­bru­ary] dur­ing the Queens­land state ti­tles, so they’ll want to do us over here. The goal for us is al­ways to be the best team in New Zealand but we want to beat the best in Aus­tralia. They are the bench­mark. It’s been a great sea­son so far. To win in the Mount will top it off.’’

Af­ter re­cent storms in the Bay of Plenty and more bad weather fore­cast, McVicar and his team is un­sure what sized surf they are likely to face. But they will be ready for any con­di­tions.

New mem­ber Fitzger­ald has slot­ted in seam­lessly, with his ex­ten­sive row­ing back­ground hold­ing him in good stead with his ex­pe­ri­enced team-mates. He has picked up the nec­es­sary surf boat skills quickly, McVicar says, and con­trib­utes strongly.

Fol­low­ing the in­ter­na­tional surf chal­lenge, there are fur­ther rounds of the na­tional surf boat se­ries to con­test, with the sea­son wrap­ping up in early March.

Photo: JUN TANAYCO

Win­ning crew: The Ti­tahi Bay surf boat crew in ac­tion off their home beach in De­cem­ber, dur­ing the open­ing round of the na­tional surf boat se­ries which they, not sur­pris­ingly, won.

Lo­cal bless­ing: Ngati Toa kau­matua bless the new boat the cham­pion men’s team will use in com­pe­ti­tion. Sweep Paul McVicar says it is im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge the spon­sor­ship they get from the lo­cal com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly the Mana Com­mu­nity Grants Foun­da­tion.

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