Year today, gone tomorrow

A huge year in sport with clubs, boots, hooves, fins and balls, and Chris Taewa finally faces his lonely golfing demons.

A huge year in sport with clubs, boots, hooves, fins and balls, and Chris Taewa finally faces his lonely golfing demons.

Ricardo Christie of New Zealand reaching the Quarterfinals where he was eliminated at the Vans World Cup of Surfing in Hawaii on December 3, 2015.
Charlie in the AB jersey
WELCOME REST: Mareikura Canoe Club member Akayshia Williams, representing Te Uranga o Te Ra, gets her breath back after winning the J19 women’s 500m final at the waka ama sprint nationals at Lake Karapiro last January. Williams will try to repeat her successes in the J19 W1 races next week. Picture by Garrick Cameron
Japan's Michael Broadhurst, centre left, and South Africa's Lwazi Mvovo compete for the ball during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Japan at the Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton, England Saturday, September 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Hockey Black Sticks v Argentina - Macarena Rodriguez Perez, Rachel McCann
Michael Pickett
NZ Surf Lifesaving Champs - Olivia Corrin (Midway) u16 Surf Race
RECORD SET: Sione Ngatu (with the ball) played his 132nd game for Poverty Bay at Wanganui on Saturday, setting a record for Bay appearances. He previously shared the record with former Old Boys prop Robbie Newlands. The Bay will be hoping to celebrate Ngatu’s 133rd game with a win when they play South Canterbury in the final round of the Heartland Championship here on Saturday. Picture by Paul Richard
Gisborne Herald reporter Kayla “Notorious K.J.D.” Dalrymple lands a solid punch on Tambo “The Rambo” Gooch, who overcame an early barrage to win by unanimous decision.
Netball Final YMP v WOG - (Back) - Mereaira Shepard, (nan) Maude Brown, Raiha Campbell,Princess Tomoana-Whareherehere, Lauryn Matenga Houia, Bronya Mc Menamin, Ata Mangu, Hana Chaffey, Raewyn Wilkie, Ingrid Brown (co coach) Irene Takao (co coach) - (Front) - Saige Brown, Paku Jane Brown-White, Kiwi Campbell, Tia Akurangi, Kyrah Dewes, Sydney Rori, Hine Hubbard, (ball girl) Mere Mangu.
Gisborne Intermediate runner Briana Irving on her way to the Year 8 girls' title at the NZCT AIMS Games cross country in Tauranga. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services
Rugby Weka Ball - Awapuni v Te Wharau - Dante Hihi
HONGI: All Blacks outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder recieves a cake from fan Kuratiwaka Ngarimu at the homecoming of the All Blacks. New Zealand Herald picture
In this image made available by the World Surf League, Australian surfer Mick Flanning is pursued by a shark, in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa, on Sunday, July 19, 2015. Knocked off his board by a shark during the televised finals of a world surfing competition in South Africa, Fanning punched the creature before escaping without injuries. Picture courtesy of worldsurfleague.com
UNVEILING A LEGEND: Former All White and professional footballer John Hill, with a little help from former All Black Eric Rush, unveils the framed picture that will go up in the Tairawhiti Legends of Sport hall of fame. Hiller was inducted as a “legend” at the Logans Sporting Excellence Awards last night. His speech was largely about how he felt he was not a legend but graciously accepted it.
Picture by Paul Rickard

CORRUPTION in FIFA.

Whoop dee doo.

Drugs in Russian athletics.

So friggin’ what?

Optically deluded third umpire costs Black Caps test.

Tell someone who gives a rat’s buttocks.

This sporting enthusiast is facing a dire emergency that demotes these international controversies to the dust-gathering files of the piffling.

My golf game sucks.

I’m talking top-of-the-line Dyson vacuum cleaner.

On the stink scale, it’s languishing somewhere between freshly deposited cat poo and the breath of a stray dog chomping on a dumped sheep carcase.

“Those are clubs, not machetes,” an empathy-devoid mate said to me last week as I emerged from jungle so deep I discovered a lost tribe.

But as I walk blindly down a Waioeka Gorge-long tunnel of decreasing hope, a pinhead-sized light appears in the distance.

It’s called summer and with it comes time. Time to smell those blossoming flowers, taste that ripened fruit and give the one-fingered salute to the clock.

We’ve celebrated the mighty ABs keeping their mitts on Willie Webb Ellis’s trophy. Watched our rowers and Lisa Carrington send the rest of the world to the watery depths of also-rans. Shaken awe-struck heads at the birdie-making, million-dollar, world No.1-producing swing of Lydia Ko. Got dizzy from IndyCars champion Scott Dixon going round . . . and round . . . and round; and savoured our Kiwis gorging themselves on an Anzac test feast of barbecued medium-rare kangaroo.

Now we can drench our senses in summer lovin’. Sink into, not perch nervously on the edge of the couch. Change gears from turbo to cruise mode.

Now I can work on my swing.

But before the divots fly at Watson Park; before Herald sports reporter John Hill adds extra hours to his grandkid-watching duties; before film-fanatic sports sub-editor John Gillies tries to fit three movies into one day; before chief photographer Paul Rickard devotes more time to combing his partner’s pedigree moggies — let’s take a look back at the Gisborne sporting year that was.

What was originally intended to be a top 20 morphed into a tentacle-growing monster as achievement upon achievement was added to the list. We’ve cut it at 40 so apologies to those who were inadvertently overlooked.

Problem is there is just so much great stuff that has gone on.

Expect it to continue in 2016.

Ricardo Christie — Championship Tour rookie Ricardo Christie failed to retain his place on world surfing’s ultimate stage but the cruisy, down-to-earth 27-year-old left his mark as an ambassador for the sport and his country. The Gisborne-based Mahia son was popular among fellow competitors, fans on the beach and in cyberspace, and World Surf League commentators alike. But as the saying goes, it’s one thing getting to the top, it’s another staying there. Competitive surfing is a cut-throat sport that can come down to tenths or hundredths of a point. Several times Christie brought the best out of his rivals, particularly in one-on-one combat. He did, however, notch a few massive scalps into his belt, and proved he deserved his place among surfing’s elite.

Charlie Ngatai — There would have been a tear in the eye of the old man if he had got to see his boy Charlie make his All Blacks test debut. The Gisborne Boys’ High School first 15-Poverty Bay-Wellington-Hurricanes-Taranaki-Chiefs midfield star put on the black jersey for the first time on July 8 and came on from the bench in the ABs’ historic first clash with Samoa in Apia. Many believed the son of Lisa and the late Kirk was an All Black-in-waiting after being part of the Chiefs’ 2013 Super Rugby championship-winning campaign and Taranaki’s historic first national provincial title run in 2014. With the international retirement of Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu, the door is now open for Ngatai to turn that one-off test into a regular starting spot.

THE BROADHURST BOYS — Campion College was a stepping stone for brothers Michael and James Broadhurst, whose family and former school celebrated a memorable rugby double in 2015. Hurricanes and Taranaki lock James’s supreme Super and ITM Championship form was rewarded with an All Blacks jersey, and he made his first and so far only test appearance against the Springboks in Johannesburg on July 25 a victorious one (27-20). Meanwhile, elder brother and former Ngatapa and Poverty Bay player Michael was adding to his international tally after becoming eligible for Japan through residency. He made the Brave Blossoms’ squad for the Rugby World Cup and was an integral part of their famous shock pool victory over South Africa.

Turf’s up — Test hockey was played in Gisborne for the first time to mark the official opening of the city’s spanking new artificial turf. The Black Sticks women’s team faced off against Argentina in a thriller — Olivia Merry scoring in the 47th minute to give New Zealand a 1-0 victory in front of a crowd of around 2000. The Argies avenged the defeat in emphatic style the next day, thrashing the Black Sticks 7-1 at the same venue. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised, not to mention a massive number of volunteer hours put in by Poverty Bay Hockey faithful, to make the turf a reality.

Olivia Corrin — She loves to compete. She loves to win. That hunger, combined with her immense talent, saw Midway rising superstar Olivia Corrin announce herself on the New Zealand and Australian stages in golden style. At the national championships in Gisborne, she won eight gold medals in the under-16 division and one in the open division. She then headed over the ditch to win medals in the Australia youth champs. “I don’t think we’ve seen someone like her before,” said Midway coach Matt Sutton. Surf lifesaving great Cory Hutchings agreed, saying she was the most talented young surf lifesaver he had seen in his time and had all the attributes to become the country’s greatest-ever female surf competitor. Watch. This. Space.

John Gisby — New Zealand’s most prolific winner at the national surfing championships made it title No.35 when he clinched the over-60s crown at Piha. It was inevitable. The “Gis” was celebrating his 50th year of a sport he was hooked on the moment he stood on a board for the first time at the age of 12. Gisby, who won his first nationals title in 1984, received a standing ovation at the nationals and was this month named Gisborne Boardriders Club surfer of the year. “I’ll just keep going until I can’t surf any more,” he said.

Marama Elkington — A new queen of Karapiro was crowned at the waka ama sprint nationals. Or perhaps princess is more appropriate. Mareikura paddler Marama Elkington, at just 17 years of age, won the premier women’s W1 500, with Horouta Waka Hoe club member and defending champion Kiwi Campbell 1.45 seconds behind in second. Capping a memorable W1 performance by Te Uranga o Te Ra regional paddlers, Mareikura’s Akayshia Williams did the 500 and 250 dash double in the junior 19 age group. Horouta won top overall club and with Australia hosting the world champs next year, Aotearoa is set to launch a formidable assault.

YMP premier netball team — YMP achieved perfection in the 2015 premier season, completing an unbeaten record with a 59-43 dismantling of Whangara Old Girls in the grand final. What made it particularly satisfying for coaches, players and supporters alike was that they did it with a predominantly young team, with a few older heads guiding them. “It is an amazing feat for these young players to achieve and to play so well under such pressure,” co-coach Irene Takao said. “They stood up to the task amazingly; they played with heart and soul.”

Team Gisborne — They conquered, they disbanded and they won’t be back in 2016. Or will they? Just a few months after Team Gisbone clinched the Pacific Premiership football title, it was announced they would not be defending it. “Sustainability” was given as the reason, although it was stressed it was a recess, not a winding up. Thistle, however, this week indicated a willingness to keep Team Gisborne going. Team Gisborne, led by player-coach Mark Baple, finished the season with 12 wins, one draw and three losses, and were six points clear of Napier Marist.

Fight For Life — A near-capacity crowd filled the Events Centre to enjoy 20 amateurs turn Rocky for a night at the Fight For Life Ed fundraiser. Months of hardcore training, which saw several of the original selections drop out, culminated in an entertaining card of three-round bouts. The Herald’s favourite, not surprisingly, was reporter Kayla “Notorious K.J.D.” Dalrymple taking on Tambo “the Rambo” Gooch. Notorious lost but won over her workmates for her guts and unyielding commitment to the challenge.

GIZZIE GLADIATORS — Gizzie Gladiators topped 13 other teams from throughout the country to win the New Zealand stockcar teams’ championship in Rotorua. They beat Wellington Young Guns in the final. The Gladiators comprised Peter Rees, his sons Asher and Ethan, Brett Lloyd, James Kirk and Bruce Harding.

Briana Irving — Gisborne Intermediate student and Gisborne Harrier Club member Briana Irving underlined her exciting potential by winning gold in the 12-year girls’ 1500 metres at the North Island Colgate Games in Wellington, smashing the Year 8 girls’ cross-country record at the AIMS Games in Tauranga, despite being crook, and winning the under-14 girls’ title at the Hawke’s Bay-Gisborne centre road racing champs. A star rising quickly.

SIONE NGATU — There was a rare show of emotion from Sione Ngatu when he set a record of 132 first-class rugby games for Poverty Bay on October 10. The veteran of 13 seasons had joined Robbie Newlands on 131 the previous weekend. “I’m proud and honoured to have played one game for Poverty Bay,” Ngatu said. “Anything else is a bonus.”

Whistleblowers — Gisborne officials made their mark on the national and international scene. Hockey umpire Amber Church was named among the 16 umpires to officiate at the Olympic Games while fellow FIH international umpire Jo Cumming was also in the running for Rio. Mel Knight made her overseas football refereeing debut at the Pacific Games.

Michael Pickett — Enterprise Cars Swim Team’s Michael Pickett is the fastest 12-year-old freestyle and butterfly swimmer in New Zealand history. Pickett set multiple national age-group records at meetings in Wellington, and ended the year as the New Zealand recordholder in the 50 and 100 metres freestyle and 50 and 100 fly in the 12/under boys’ age group.

Fly like an eagle — Tokoroa-based Tolaga Bay member Nathaniel Cassidy produced the most memorable finish in the illustrious history of Tolaga Bay’s King of the Coast men’s open golf tournament. The 19-year-old holed a wedge for an eagle-2 to win the championship final on the second extra hole. His vanquished opponent, Peter Kerekere, would go on to clinch his first Poverty Bay Open title later in the year and deliver a speech worthy of a champion. Both players were also in the Poverty Bay-East Coast team who ended a three-year losing streak at the national interprovincial in Invercargill.

Tapuae Taniwha — Tapuae Taniwha created history by winning the Gisborne-Tairawhiti club rugby league title and Dave Ahu Memorial Trophy for the first time in the 20-year history of the competition. The Taniwha, led by inspirational player-coach Wayne Hema, defeated Paikea Whalers 18-10 in the final.

Top of the class — Te Wharau School ruled primary school rugby and league in 2015. They won the Poverty Bay rippa rugby tournament to earn a place at the Rippa Rugby World Cup in Wellington.They won the inter-school rugby tournament and clinched the “Ranfurly Shield” of primary school rugby — the Weka Ball — to cap their season. They also took the honours in the Trish Hina interschool rugby league tournament. The force is strong in TW.

Tayler Reid — Hundreds of hours of hardcore training in Tayler Reid’s quest to make the podium at the world triathlon championships were dealt a massive blow on what was described as “one crazy day” in Chicago. A storm meant the swim leg — Reid’s strongest discipline — was removed from a shortened under-19 men’s race and Reid finished 11th in his last year in the age group. It wasn’t the climax he was striving for but Reid is all too familiar with the fickle nature of his sport and the desire still burns in him to make it his career. Reid did have his share of success in a year that included victory in the Japan National Sprint Championships.

Happy 125TH — Poverty Bay celebrated 125 memorable years of rugby with a weekend of events, including the annual Queen’s Birthday Weekend local derby against neighbours Ngati Porou East Coast. The home side won 26-20 as players from many eras came together to chew the Memory Lane fat, and reminisce about the way it was and what rugby has become.

Icing on the 90th cake — High School Old Boys marked the club’s 90th jubilee year by winning the Lee Bros Shield Poverty Bay premier club rugby title. The Wayne Ensor-coached blue and whites were consistently the best team throughout the season and completed it with an 18-16 win against Ngatapa in the final. The Herald back page headline screamed D For Victory — reflecting a defensive performance hailed by an “unbelievably proud” Ensor.

Low blow — Taekwon-Do black belt Nic Low added his name to the list of Gisborne’s world champions. The 16-year-old was a member of the New Zealand junior boys’ team who won the power event at the International TKD Federation World Championships in Italy. He also won a team sparring bronze medal. Former Gisborne man Michael Davis won an individual sparring bronze in his senior men’s microweight class.

‘A bit nuts’ — Inspired by the memory of daughter Amy, who died in 2013, and the support of several friends, Mary Briant completed her first full ironman — 3.8-kilometre swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km marathon — at Taupo in March, winning bronze in the women’s 55-to-59-year age group. Briant had guts . . . she tore her Achilles tendon in December 2013, which put her out of action for months. “Why would you put your body through 13 hours and 30 minutes of that?” several people asked her. “Because I’m a bit nuts,” she replied.

In the genes — Another Briant emerged as a jetsprinting force. Following in the world championship-winning rooster tail of his father Peter and uncle Rex, Blake Briant made an instant impact on the New Zealand Group A series, winning two rounds and signalling his intentions for the 2016 national and world series. Briant and navigator Kate Hoogerbrug’s duel with Hamilton driver Sam Newdick and Gisborne navigator Glenn Mason at a double-header event at BayPark was a beauty — hundredths of a second separating the crews. Briant currently leads the 2015-16 series.

Ariata Kutia — Teenage Gisborne squash player Ariata Kutia underlined her potential in the space of a week with three successes in the South Island. She won the Division 2 girls’ title at the New Zealand junior open and the under-13 girls’ crown at the Oceania junior champs, and was a member of the New Zealand team who beat their Australian counterparts in the junior transtasman test series.

Ritana rules — “The best feeling in the whole wide world,” was how Ritana (Lytton High) coach Tania Bartlett described winning the New Zealand Secondary Schools Ki o Rahi Championships in Gisborne. Ritana beat Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane (Gisborne Girls’ High/Gisborne Boys’ High) 16-13 in the final — the culmination of a five-year vision to reach the top.

Team man — “True Blue” Coastie Charlie Harrison became only the second player (Morgan Waitoa was the first) to bring up 100 first-class rugby games for East Coast in the Sky Blues’ Queen’s Birthday Weekend derby against Poverty Bay. The Bay won but Harrison was just happy to be on the field with his band of brothers. “It’s not about me,” he stressed. “It’s about the game. It’s about the team.”

10 and counting — He ran the contest and still had time to win his division . . . again. New Zealand Waveski Champs contest director Steve Gibbs made it grand masters age group title No.10 — to go along with his other successes over the years — as Gisborne successfully hosted the event for the 14th time.

Roaring success — Rangataua o Aotearoa fighters brought home four medals from the muay Thai kickboxing world championships — gold to Ishtar Mackey-Huriwai, silver to Alizay Grant and Te Ariki Pomana, and bronze to Ihipera Mackey. “I’m blown away,” coach Melissa Huriwai-Mackey said.

Family affair — It’s certainly in the genes of the multi-talented, multisport-loving Hoskin family. And nowhere was this more evident than in the Waimata Traverse multisport race. Father Craig retained the men’s title, daughter Alicia won the women’s crown and mother Toni and daughter Courtney combined to place second in the women’s team division. The Hoskin girls were also part of the Poverty Bay Kayak Club junior juggernaut, which reaffirmed the club’s No.1 status on the New Zealand ladder and is on track to add to Gisborne’s success at the highest level.

Batter up — Softball boomed over 2015. In the space of six years, the game has gone from eight adult teams in 2009 to 10 women’s, seven men’s and 37 junior teams in 2015. And while he continues to deflect the praise towards others, Tairawhiti Softball Association president Walton Walker spearheaded this transformation — ongoing efforts that saw him awarded the Parker Family Endeavour Cup at the Tairawhiti Sporting Excellence Awards. The Softball Strikes Back joint initiative between TSA and Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti was recognised with the Community Impact Award at Sport New Zealand’s Sport and Recreation Awards.

The Sheldrakes — Decades of contribution to triathlon led to Gisborne couple Terry and Kathy Sheldrake being recognised at the highest level. Terry was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Kathy became the first New Zealander to win the International Triathlon Union Women’s Committee Award of Excellence. “I love the grassroots level of sport,” Terry said. “It does not matter who you are or what your social status is, sport is a community glue and it brings people together.” Son Stephen is continuing that legacy as a professional coach and remains the best 40-44 age group triathlete in the country.

‘Best day of my life’ — Ruatoria boy Kuratiwaka Ngarimu almost stole the All Blacks’ show at the Rugby World Cup champions’ public welcome home in Auckland. Fellow Ngati Porou and world breakthough player of the year Nehe Milner-Skudder was so impressed by a video tribute Kura’s mum posted online, he arranged to have the youngster and mother Vanessa flown to the event. Kura was brought onstage, was presented with a pair of Milner-Skudder’s boots, got to sit with the world cup and had a ride with the ABs on their bus. “It was the best day of my life,” he said.

And the winner is . . . Surfer Ricardo Christie won the supreme award at the Tairawhiti Sporting Excellence Awards but Herald Sport reckons the highlight of the night was our very own sports hound and All Whites great John Hill being inducted into the Tairawhiti Legends of Sport. Former professional footballer Hiller has regaled us for years with a verbal anthology created by a career that ultimately led to the 1982 World Cup and is now winding down behind the keyboard. His quick wit, upbeat personality and enthusiasm for life are infectious. And parents, if you want your kid to learn how to kick a ball (rugby or soccer) properly, give Hiller a ring. He’ll teach him or her, free of charge.

Human machine — She escaped from Alcatraz. Won a 78km national cycling road race title by half a bike-length. Scored a match-winner for GMC women’s hockey team. And she clocked up another 226km ironman. Nan Baker perfectly defined the personfication of the word “machine” in a year that featured age-group (40-44) gold at the New Zealand long-distance tri champs, silver in the Oceania tri champs, second place in the Tinman triathlon and sixth in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco. She described her thrilling cycling win as “the best gold I’ve ever earned”.

Laura Quilter — A world record, several national records and another series of passport stamps made for a busy year for Auckland-based Gisborne swimmer and clubbie Laura Quilter. She wore the silver fern at several international pool rescue carnivals, collecting a world record in the 50 metres carry at the German Cup and medals of each colour at the Orange Cup. She also represented her country at the World Uni Games in South Korea. On the national front, Quilter won three gold medals at the New Zealand open swimming champs and two at the NZ short-course champs.

Thistle women — All-conquering Gisborne Laundry Services Thistle marched to the 2015 Gisborne women’s football league title with a near-perfect record of 16 wins and one draw — 14 points clear of the runners-up. They scored 141 goals at an average of over eight a game, 37 of them netted by Holly Murrell. The Braybrook Cup knockout title iced the cake.

Shark attack: It didn’t happen here and didn’t directly involve a Gisborne sportsman but with Gisborne being a beach town, it affected us here big-time. Millions watched as Australian Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark during the World Surf League Championship Tour J-Bay Pro final in South Africa. It was an instance of pure and horrific disbelief that rammed home the ever-present dangers of an environment where nature ultimately rules.

Mighty Midway: Gold Coast-based Cory Taylor relinquished his open ironman crown on his home Midway Beach at the surf lifesaving nationals in March but nine months later is mixing it with the best all-rounders in the world after qualifying for the Nutri-Grain ironman series — the pinnacle title of the sport. Taylor picked up two gold and four silver medals at the nationals as Midway finished second behind heavyweights Mt Maunganui. He also showed his versatility by winning a couple of medals as part of the Kiwi team at the world SUP and paddleboard champs in Mexico. International duty continued at the International Surf Rescue Challenge as the world champion Black Fins were narrowly beaten by Australia over three tests. Fellow Midway man and swim specialist Chris Dawson also impressed here and across the ditch, winning three gold medals at the Aussie pool rescue nationals, playing his part in a world record relay effort at the German Cup pool rescue carnival and featuring strongly for Midway at the New Zealand champs. Yet another Midway-produced talent, Matt Scott, continued his rise as a swimming force in the ocean and pool, culminating in his co-captaincy of the New Zealand youth team at the International Surf Rescue Challenge.

CORRUPTION in FIFA.

Whoop dee doo.

Drugs in Russian athletics.

So friggin’ what?

Optically deluded third umpire costs Black Caps test.

Tell someone who gives a rat’s buttocks.

This sporting enthusiast is facing a dire emergency that demotes these international controversies to the dust-gathering files of the piffling.

My golf game sucks.

I’m talking top-of-the-line Dyson vacuum cleaner.

On the stink scale, it’s languishing somewhere between freshly deposited cat poo and the breath of a stray dog chomping on a dumped sheep carcase.

“Those are clubs, not machetes,” an empathy-devoid mate said to me last week as I emerged from jungle so deep I discovered a lost tribe.

But as I walk blindly down a Waioeka Gorge-long tunnel of decreasing hope, a pinhead-sized light appears in the distance.

It’s called summer and with it comes time. Time to smell those blossoming flowers, taste that ripened fruit and give the one-fingered salute to the clock.

We’ve celebrated the mighty ABs keeping their mitts on Willie Webb Ellis’s trophy. Watched our rowers and Lisa Carrington send the rest of the world to the watery depths of also-rans. Shaken awe-struck heads at the birdie-making, million-dollar, world No.1-producing swing of Lydia Ko. Got dizzy from IndyCars champion Scott Dixon going round . . . and round . . . and round; and savoured our Kiwis gorging themselves on an Anzac test feast of barbecued medium-rare kangaroo.

Now we can drench our senses in summer lovin’. Sink into, not perch nervously on the edge of the couch. Change gears from turbo to cruise mode.

Now I can work on my swing.

But before the divots fly at Watson Park; before Herald sports reporter John Hill adds extra hours to his grandkid-watching duties; before film-fanatic sports sub-editor John Gillies tries to fit three movies into one day; before chief photographer Paul Rickard devotes more time to combing his partner’s pedigree moggies — let’s take a look back at the Gisborne sporting year that was.

What was originally intended to be a top 20 morphed into a tentacle-growing monster as achievement upon achievement was added to the list. We’ve cut it at 40 so apologies to those who were inadvertently overlooked.

Problem is there is just so much great stuff that has gone on.

Expect it to continue in 2016.

Ricardo Christie — Championship Tour rookie Ricardo Christie failed to retain his place on world surfing’s ultimate stage but the cruisy, down-to-earth 27-year-old left his mark as an ambassador for the sport and his country. The Gisborne-based Mahia son was popular among fellow competitors, fans on the beach and in cyberspace, and World Surf League commentators alike. But as the saying goes, it’s one thing getting to the top, it’s another staying there. Competitive surfing is a cut-throat sport that can come down to tenths or hundredths of a point. Several times Christie brought the best out of his rivals, particularly in one-on-one combat. He did, however, notch a few massive scalps into his belt, and proved he deserved his place among surfing’s elite.

Charlie Ngatai — There would have been a tear in the eye of the old man if he had got to see his boy Charlie make his All Blacks test debut. The Gisborne Boys’ High School first 15-Poverty Bay-Wellington-Hurricanes-Taranaki-Chiefs midfield star put on the black jersey for the first time on July 8 and came on from the bench in the ABs’ historic first clash with Samoa in Apia. Many believed the son of Lisa and the late Kirk was an All Black-in-waiting after being part of the Chiefs’ 2013 Super Rugby championship-winning campaign and Taranaki’s historic first national provincial title run in 2014. With the international retirement of Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu, the door is now open for Ngatai to turn that one-off test into a regular starting spot.

THE BROADHURST BOYS — Campion College was a stepping stone for brothers Michael and James Broadhurst, whose family and former school celebrated a memorable rugby double in 2015. Hurricanes and Taranaki lock James’s supreme Super and ITM Championship form was rewarded with an All Blacks jersey, and he made his first and so far only test appearance against the Springboks in Johannesburg on July 25 a victorious one (27-20). Meanwhile, elder brother and former Ngatapa and Poverty Bay player Michael was adding to his international tally after becoming eligible for Japan through residency. He made the Brave Blossoms’ squad for the Rugby World Cup and was an integral part of their famous shock pool victory over South Africa.

Turf’s up — Test hockey was played in Gisborne for the first time to mark the official opening of the city’s spanking new artificial turf. The Black Sticks women’s team faced off against Argentina in a thriller — Olivia Merry scoring in the 47th minute to give New Zealand a 1-0 victory in front of a crowd of around 2000. The Argies avenged the defeat in emphatic style the next day, thrashing the Black Sticks 7-1 at the same venue. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised, not to mention a massive number of volunteer hours put in by Poverty Bay Hockey faithful, to make the turf a reality.

Olivia Corrin — She loves to compete. She loves to win. That hunger, combined with her immense talent, saw Midway rising superstar Olivia Corrin announce herself on the New Zealand and Australian stages in golden style. At the national championships in Gisborne, she won eight gold medals in the under-16 division and one in the open division. She then headed over the ditch to win medals in the Australia youth champs. “I don’t think we’ve seen someone like her before,” said Midway coach Matt Sutton. Surf lifesaving great Cory Hutchings agreed, saying she was the most talented young surf lifesaver he had seen in his time and had all the attributes to become the country’s greatest-ever female surf competitor. Watch. This. Space.

John Gisby — New Zealand’s most prolific winner at the national surfing championships made it title No.35 when he clinched the over-60s crown at Piha. It was inevitable. The “Gis” was celebrating his 50th year of a sport he was hooked on the moment he stood on a board for the first time at the age of 12. Gisby, who won his first nationals title in 1984, received a standing ovation at the nationals and was this month named Gisborne Boardriders Club surfer of the year. “I’ll just keep going until I can’t surf any more,” he said.

Marama Elkington — A new queen of Karapiro was crowned at the waka ama sprint nationals. Or perhaps princess is more appropriate. Mareikura paddler Marama Elkington, at just 17 years of age, won the premier women’s W1 500, with Horouta Waka Hoe club member and defending champion Kiwi Campbell 1.45 seconds behind in second. Capping a memorable W1 performance by Te Uranga o Te Ra regional paddlers, Mareikura’s Akayshia Williams did the 500 and 250 dash double in the junior 19 age group. Horouta won top overall club and with Australia hosting the world champs next year, Aotearoa is set to launch a formidable assault.

YMP premier netball team — YMP achieved perfection in the 2015 premier season, completing an unbeaten record with a 59-43 dismantling of Whangara Old Girls in the grand final. What made it particularly satisfying for coaches, players and supporters alike was that they did it with a predominantly young team, with a few older heads guiding them. “It is an amazing feat for these young players to achieve and to play so well under such pressure,” co-coach Irene Takao said. “They stood up to the task amazingly; they played with heart and soul.”

Team Gisborne — They conquered, they disbanded and they won’t be back in 2016. Or will they? Just a few months after Team Gisbone clinched the Pacific Premiership football title, it was announced they would not be defending it. “Sustainability” was given as the reason, although it was stressed it was a recess, not a winding up. Thistle, however, this week indicated a willingness to keep Team Gisborne going. Team Gisborne, led by player-coach Mark Baple, finished the season with 12 wins, one draw and three losses, and were six points clear of Napier Marist.

Fight For Life — A near-capacity crowd filled the Events Centre to enjoy 20 amateurs turn Rocky for a night at the Fight For Life Ed fundraiser. Months of hardcore training, which saw several of the original selections drop out, culminated in an entertaining card of three-round bouts. The Herald’s favourite, not surprisingly, was reporter Kayla “Notorious K.J.D.” Dalrymple taking on Tambo “the Rambo” Gooch. Notorious lost but won over her workmates for her guts and unyielding commitment to the challenge.

GIZZIE GLADIATORS — Gizzie Gladiators topped 13 other teams from throughout the country to win the New Zealand stockcar teams’ championship in Rotorua. They beat Wellington Young Guns in the final. The Gladiators comprised Peter Rees, his sons Asher and Ethan, Brett Lloyd, James Kirk and Bruce Harding.

Briana Irving — Gisborne Intermediate student and Gisborne Harrier Club member Briana Irving underlined her exciting potential by winning gold in the 12-year girls’ 1500 metres at the North Island Colgate Games in Wellington, smashing the Year 8 girls’ cross-country record at the AIMS Games in Tauranga, despite being crook, and winning the under-14 girls’ title at the Hawke’s Bay-Gisborne centre road racing champs. A star rising quickly.

SIONE NGATU — There was a rare show of emotion from Sione Ngatu when he set a record of 132 first-class rugby games for Poverty Bay on October 10. The veteran of 13 seasons had joined Robbie Newlands on 131 the previous weekend. “I’m proud and honoured to have played one game for Poverty Bay,” Ngatu said. “Anything else is a bonus.”

Whistleblowers — Gisborne officials made their mark on the national and international scene. Hockey umpire Amber Church was named among the 16 umpires to officiate at the Olympic Games while fellow FIH international umpire Jo Cumming was also in the running for Rio. Mel Knight made her overseas football refereeing debut at the Pacific Games.

Michael Pickett — Enterprise Cars Swim Team’s Michael Pickett is the fastest 12-year-old freestyle and butterfly swimmer in New Zealand history. Pickett set multiple national age-group records at meetings in Wellington, and ended the year as the New Zealand recordholder in the 50 and 100 metres freestyle and 50 and 100 fly in the 12/under boys’ age group.

Fly like an eagle — Tokoroa-based Tolaga Bay member Nathaniel Cassidy produced the most memorable finish in the illustrious history of Tolaga Bay’s King of the Coast men’s open golf tournament. The 19-year-old holed a wedge for an eagle-2 to win the championship final on the second extra hole. His vanquished opponent, Peter Kerekere, would go on to clinch his first Poverty Bay Open title later in the year and deliver a speech worthy of a champion. Both players were also in the Poverty Bay-East Coast team who ended a three-year losing streak at the national interprovincial in Invercargill.

Tapuae Taniwha — Tapuae Taniwha created history by winning the Gisborne-Tairawhiti club rugby league title and Dave Ahu Memorial Trophy for the first time in the 20-year history of the competition. The Taniwha, led by inspirational player-coach Wayne Hema, defeated Paikea Whalers 18-10 in the final.

Top of the class — Te Wharau School ruled primary school rugby and league in 2015. They won the Poverty Bay rippa rugby tournament to earn a place at the Rippa Rugby World Cup in Wellington.They won the inter-school rugby tournament and clinched the “Ranfurly Shield” of primary school rugby — the Weka Ball — to cap their season. They also took the honours in the Trish Hina interschool rugby league tournament. The force is strong in TW.

Tayler Reid — Hundreds of hours of hardcore training in Tayler Reid’s quest to make the podium at the world triathlon championships were dealt a massive blow on what was described as “one crazy day” in Chicago. A storm meant the swim leg — Reid’s strongest discipline — was removed from a shortened under-19 men’s race and Reid finished 11th in his last year in the age group. It wasn’t the climax he was striving for but Reid is all too familiar with the fickle nature of his sport and the desire still burns in him to make it his career. Reid did have his share of success in a year that included victory in the Japan National Sprint Championships.

Happy 125TH — Poverty Bay celebrated 125 memorable years of rugby with a weekend of events, including the annual Queen’s Birthday Weekend local derby against neighbours Ngati Porou East Coast. The home side won 26-20 as players from many eras came together to chew the Memory Lane fat, and reminisce about the way it was and what rugby has become.

Icing on the 90th cake — High School Old Boys marked the club’s 90th jubilee year by winning the Lee Bros Shield Poverty Bay premier club rugby title. The Wayne Ensor-coached blue and whites were consistently the best team throughout the season and completed it with an 18-16 win against Ngatapa in the final. The Herald back page headline screamed D For Victory — reflecting a defensive performance hailed by an “unbelievably proud” Ensor.

Low blow — Taekwon-Do black belt Nic Low added his name to the list of Gisborne’s world champions. The 16-year-old was a member of the New Zealand junior boys’ team who won the power event at the International TKD Federation World Championships in Italy. He also won a team sparring bronze medal. Former Gisborne man Michael Davis won an individual sparring bronze in his senior men’s microweight class.

‘A bit nuts’ — Inspired by the memory of daughter Amy, who died in 2013, and the support of several friends, Mary Briant completed her first full ironman — 3.8-kilometre swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km marathon — at Taupo in March, winning bronze in the women’s 55-to-59-year age group. Briant had guts . . . she tore her Achilles tendon in December 2013, which put her out of action for months. “Why would you put your body through 13 hours and 30 minutes of that?” several people asked her. “Because I’m a bit nuts,” she replied.

In the genes — Another Briant emerged as a jetsprinting force. Following in the world championship-winning rooster tail of his father Peter and uncle Rex, Blake Briant made an instant impact on the New Zealand Group A series, winning two rounds and signalling his intentions for the 2016 national and world series. Briant and navigator Kate Hoogerbrug’s duel with Hamilton driver Sam Newdick and Gisborne navigator Glenn Mason at a double-header event at BayPark was a beauty — hundredths of a second separating the crews. Briant currently leads the 2015-16 series.

Ariata Kutia — Teenage Gisborne squash player Ariata Kutia underlined her potential in the space of a week with three successes in the South Island. She won the Division 2 girls’ title at the New Zealand junior open and the under-13 girls’ crown at the Oceania junior champs, and was a member of the New Zealand team who beat their Australian counterparts in the junior transtasman test series.

Ritana rules — “The best feeling in the whole wide world,” was how Ritana (Lytton High) coach Tania Bartlett described winning the New Zealand Secondary Schools Ki o Rahi Championships in Gisborne. Ritana beat Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane (Gisborne Girls’ High/Gisborne Boys’ High) 16-13 in the final — the culmination of a five-year vision to reach the top.

Team man — “True Blue” Coastie Charlie Harrison became only the second player (Morgan Waitoa was the first) to bring up 100 first-class rugby games for East Coast in the Sky Blues’ Queen’s Birthday Weekend derby against Poverty Bay. The Bay won but Harrison was just happy to be on the field with his band of brothers. “It’s not about me,” he stressed. “It’s about the game. It’s about the team.”

10 and counting — He ran the contest and still had time to win his division . . . again. New Zealand Waveski Champs contest director Steve Gibbs made it grand masters age group title No.10 — to go along with his other successes over the years — as Gisborne successfully hosted the event for the 14th time.

Roaring success — Rangataua o Aotearoa fighters brought home four medals from the muay Thai kickboxing world championships — gold to Ishtar Mackey-Huriwai, silver to Alizay Grant and Te Ariki Pomana, and bronze to Ihipera Mackey. “I’m blown away,” coach Melissa Huriwai-Mackey said.

Family affair — It’s certainly in the genes of the multi-talented, multisport-loving Hoskin family. And nowhere was this more evident than in the Waimata Traverse multisport race. Father Craig retained the men’s title, daughter Alicia won the women’s crown and mother Toni and daughter Courtney combined to place second in the women’s team division. The Hoskin girls were also part of the Poverty Bay Kayak Club junior juggernaut, which reaffirmed the club’s No.1 status on the New Zealand ladder and is on track to add to Gisborne’s success at the highest level.

Batter up — Softball boomed over 2015. In the space of six years, the game has gone from eight adult teams in 2009 to 10 women’s, seven men’s and 37 junior teams in 2015. And while he continues to deflect the praise towards others, Tairawhiti Softball Association president Walton Walker spearheaded this transformation — ongoing efforts that saw him awarded the Parker Family Endeavour Cup at the Tairawhiti Sporting Excellence Awards. The Softball Strikes Back joint initiative between TSA and Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti was recognised with the Community Impact Award at Sport New Zealand’s Sport and Recreation Awards.

The Sheldrakes — Decades of contribution to triathlon led to Gisborne couple Terry and Kathy Sheldrake being recognised at the highest level. Terry was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Kathy became the first New Zealander to win the International Triathlon Union Women’s Committee Award of Excellence. “I love the grassroots level of sport,” Terry said. “It does not matter who you are or what your social status is, sport is a community glue and it brings people together.” Son Stephen is continuing that legacy as a professional coach and remains the best 40-44 age group triathlete in the country.

‘Best day of my life’ — Ruatoria boy Kuratiwaka Ngarimu almost stole the All Blacks’ show at the Rugby World Cup champions’ public welcome home in Auckland. Fellow Ngati Porou and world breakthough player of the year Nehe Milner-Skudder was so impressed by a video tribute Kura’s mum posted online, he arranged to have the youngster and mother Vanessa flown to the event. Kura was brought onstage, was presented with a pair of Milner-Skudder’s boots, got to sit with the world cup and had a ride with the ABs on their bus. “It was the best day of my life,” he said.

And the winner is . . . Surfer Ricardo Christie won the supreme award at the Tairawhiti Sporting Excellence Awards but Herald Sport reckons the highlight of the night was our very own sports hound and All Whites great John Hill being inducted into the Tairawhiti Legends of Sport. Former professional footballer Hiller has regaled us for years with a verbal anthology created by a career that ultimately led to the 1982 World Cup and is now winding down behind the keyboard. His quick wit, upbeat personality and enthusiasm for life are infectious. And parents, if you want your kid to learn how to kick a ball (rugby or soccer) properly, give Hiller a ring. He’ll teach him or her, free of charge.

Human machine — She escaped from Alcatraz. Won a 78km national cycling road race title by half a bike-length. Scored a match-winner for GMC women’s hockey team. And she clocked up another 226km ironman. Nan Baker perfectly defined the personfication of the word “machine” in a year that featured age-group (40-44) gold at the New Zealand long-distance tri champs, silver in the Oceania tri champs, second place in the Tinman triathlon and sixth in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco. She described her thrilling cycling win as “the best gold I’ve ever earned”.

Laura Quilter — A world record, several national records and another series of passport stamps made for a busy year for Auckland-based Gisborne swimmer and clubbie Laura Quilter. She wore the silver fern at several international pool rescue carnivals, collecting a world record in the 50 metres carry at the German Cup and medals of each colour at the Orange Cup. She also represented her country at the World Uni Games in South Korea. On the national front, Quilter won three gold medals at the New Zealand open swimming champs and two at the NZ short-course champs.

Thistle women — All-conquering Gisborne Laundry Services Thistle marched to the 2015 Gisborne women’s football league title with a near-perfect record of 16 wins and one draw — 14 points clear of the runners-up. They scored 141 goals at an average of over eight a game, 37 of them netted by Holly Murrell. The Braybrook Cup knockout title iced the cake.

Shark attack: It didn’t happen here and didn’t directly involve a Gisborne sportsman but with Gisborne being a beach town, it affected us here big-time. Millions watched as Australian Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark during the World Surf League Championship Tour J-Bay Pro final in South Africa. It was an instance of pure and horrific disbelief that rammed home the ever-present dangers of an environment where nature ultimately rules.

Mighty Midway: Gold Coast-based Cory Taylor relinquished his open ironman crown on his home Midway Beach at the surf lifesaving nationals in March but nine months later is mixing it with the best all-rounders in the world after qualifying for the Nutri-Grain ironman series — the pinnacle title of the sport. Taylor picked up two gold and four silver medals at the nationals as Midway finished second behind heavyweights Mt Maunganui. He also showed his versatility by winning a couple of medals as part of the Kiwi team at the world SUP and paddleboard champs in Mexico. International duty continued at the International Surf Rescue Challenge as the world champion Black Fins were narrowly beaten by Australia over three tests. Fellow Midway man and swim specialist Chris Dawson also impressed here and across the ditch, winning three gold medals at the Aussie pool rescue nationals, playing his part in a world record relay effort at the German Cup pool rescue carnival and featuring strongly for Midway at the New Zealand champs. Yet another Midway-produced talent, Matt Scott, continued his rise as a swimming force in the ocean and pool, culminating in his co-captaincy of the New Zealand youth team at the International Surf Rescue Challenge.

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