Mount ahead on the wa­ter

Bays event dou­bles as a train­ing ex­er­cise for life­guards and IRB rac­ing team se­lec­tion

Bay of Plenty Times - - SPORT - David Beck

When it comes to surf life sav­ing events, the Mount Maun­ganui Life­guard Ser­vice is a jug­ger­naut and they proved it again dur­ing the Cham­pion of the Bays at O¯ hope Beach.

At the week­end, 241 surf life savers from 14 Bay of Plenty and Gis­borne clubs com­peted in a wide range of run­ning, swim­ming, board, ski and IRB races to dis­cover who was the best of the Bays.

Mount Maun­ganui were the clear win­ners, fin­ish­ing on 338 points in the over­all club rank­ings, more than 200 points ahead of Waikanae Surf Life Sav­ing Club in sec­ond (132). Pa¯ pa¯ moa Surf Life Sav­ing Club were third with 84 points.

Points earned by Bay of Plenty teams at the event also de­cided who took home the Bay of Plenty Top Club Tro­phy. Mount Maun­ganui cruised to vic­tory in that as well, fin­ish­ing on 463 points ahead of Whakata¯ne Surf Life Sav­ing Club (144) in sec­ond.

Surf Life Sav­ing NZ in­terim sport man­ager Scott Bick­nell said the event was a valu­able op­por­tu­nity for the ath­letes to have a hitout ahead of the Eastern Re­gional Senior Cham­pi­onships in two weeks as well as the BP Surf Res­cue New Zealand Cham­pi­onships in five weeks’ time.

“There’s def­i­nitely a pride fac­tor be­tween the clubs, but it’s also a bit of a test­ing ground in prepa­ra­tion for those other events.

“This is re­ally all about get­ting a lot of rac­ing in, rac­ing against some good com­peti­tors — not nec­es­sar­ily the best in the coun­try, but some good peo­ple.”

Bick­nell said, his­tor­i­cally, Mount Maun­ganui were al­ways strong. They have won seven of the last 10 club ti­tles at the na­tional cham­pi­onships, in­clud­ing the last six in a row. They have also won the last two na­tional pool res­cue cham­pi­onships; the first club to win both ti­tles in the same year.

“They were leagues ahead of ev­ery­one else.”

He said, as well as be­ing a sport­ing event, it was an op­por­tu­nity for up and com­ing life­guards to prac­tise their life sav­ing skills. Those skills were high­lighted when, dur­ing the event, a group of surf life savers rushed from the beach to help save the life of a cy­clist who suf­fered a heart at­tack and stopped breath­ing af­ter be­ing in­volved in a crash with a car.

“We had pretty good con­di­tions, it was nice to see a lit­tle bit of a wave, cre­at­ing more chal­leng­ing con­di­tions and re­ally test­ing their skills. O¯ hope has a bit of a sand bar which cre­ates a sweep through which can drag them left or right.

“It’s all about teach­ing life­guards, giv­ing them the skill and ex­pe­ri­ence ● to get out into the wa­ter the quick­est pos­si­ble way.

“We also had IRB rac­ing and, while there were only a few crews, that was se­lec­tion for the Coro­man­del team so we had Waihi and Whanga­mata rac­ing and that was very in­tense.”

Event man­ager Mark Inglis paid trib­ute to those who made the event pos­si­ble.

“I wanted to thank the vol­un­teer club of­fi­cials, wa­ter safety crew, and the Whakatane SLSC event helpers who gave up their time to as­sist at the 2019 Cham­pion of the Bays. They all did a fan­tas­tic job.”

Photo / Karen Ester­huizen

Ath­letes charge into the wa­ter for the un­der-16 girls’ surf race at Cham­pion of the Bays in Whakata¯ ne.

Photo / Karen Ester­huizen

Claye Wil­liams and Michael Ester­huizen dig in dur­ing the un­der-19 men’s dou­ble ski at Cham­pion of the Bays in Whakata¯ ne.

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