Surf crew ready
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.
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.