Gisborne surf lifesaving clubs on medal mission

FLYING THE MASTERS FLAGS: Waikanae’s Michelle “Mitch” Mitchell and Debbie Hutchings are the only Gisborne competitors in the masters competition at the New Zealand surf lifesaving championships. File picture
GUNNING: Gold Coast-based Midway club member Cory Taylor is gunning for the open ironman title at the surf lifesaving nationals in Christchurch this week. He is pictured celebrating his open victory at Ohope in 2014 but has had to play second fiddle to fellow New Zealand representative Max Beattie in the past two years. Taylor, who has also won the ironman in the under-19 and u16 age groups at the nationals over the years, is part of a Midway contingent small in quantity but big in quality. File picture by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services
DEFENDING CHAMPS: Wainui's Jasmine Smith (left) and Georgia Harris will defend their open women’s board rescue title at the nationals, won last year at Ohope. File picture
CRAFT STRENGTH: Waikanae have medal chances across all arenas and age groups, but the canoe events could be a gold mine for them. The crew of Lucy Mossman, Ella Andrew, Anna Ellingham and Courtney Hoskin (pictured) won both the under-19 and open women’s canoe at the Eastern Regional champs at Mount Maunganui. File picture

GISBORNE'S contingent at the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships in Christchurch will be the smallest for many years, but the medal count could still be substantial.

Just over 50 surf athletes from Gisborne will compete at New Brighton Beach: 29 from Waikanae, 15 from Riversun Wainui and nine from Dawson Building Midway.

The carnival started today with the masters championships. Waikanae members Debbie Hutchings and Michelle Mitchell were the only Gisborne competitors.

“We are both looking forward to it and always try to be as competitive as we can,” Hutchings said yesterday.

“Michelle has by far the bigger day, competing in all the swim and craft events, and I hope to do well again on the beach.”

The first of the 100-plus (under-16 to open level) events hits the beach at 8am tomorrow.

Waikanae are looking to build on their second overall placing at the Eastern Regional championships at Mount Maunganui in late January — the second biggest carnival on the lifesaving calendar.

“The result from the Mount showed that head coach Cory Hutchings’ training programme is pretty amazing and we are very happy with the progress,” a Waikanae club official said.

“We will have potential finalists in all areas in Christchurch, particularly in craft events and on the beach.”

Hutchings said it was great to have so many competitors going down.

“It shows the strength of the club and we definitely have a few to look out for like New Zealand representative beach exponents Casie Fyall and Jamie Gedye, and ski paddler Quaid Thompson.

“We are pretty strong across the age divisions, particularly under-16 and under-19, and some of our juniors will also compete in open events.

“The main focus is to continue building on what we have achieved in the past few years.”

Hutchings said to get in the top five clubs at the nationals would be brilliant.

Wainui coach Dion Williams said the club had been boosted by the appearance of world championship-winning Black Fins squad member Laura Quilter in what would be her first appearance at a surf nationals for several years.

“Laura brings her professional approach and international experience, and that can only rub off on the other members of our team.

“We are also excited to have Jasmine Smith back from Australia. Jas always brings extremely high quality board paddling with her and sets up any team she is in,” Williams said.

Smith and Georgia Harris will be defending the open women’s board rescue national title they won at Ohope last summer.

Williams said the u19 and open board relay and board rescue events were serious medal chances.

“Our under-19 men’s canoe team won a gold and a bronze last year in Ohope and we hope for something like that again.

“Joe Puddick and Jack Virtue are good chances in the tube and board rescue events. I am extremely happy with the state of the team and how well they have prepared. They are raring to go and ready to charge.”

Midway coach Matt Sutton said they had a small but close-knit team entered as the club went through a rebuilding phase.

“But we are lucky to still have some of the best surf athletes around in the likes of Cory Taylor and Olivia Corrin.”

Taylor is back from the Northcliff club on Australia’s Gold Coast and will be making another strong crack at regaining the open ironman title.

“Cory’s been the bridesmaid in that event in the past two seasons and he is going to Christchurch to win it again,” Sutton said. “Olivia is an unbelievable athlete and I expect to see her feature in the under-19 board and ironwoman. She is probably the most exciting female surf athlete the country has seen for a while.”

Sutton said Alex Bermingham, who was named in the New Zealand under-18 sprint kayak team to race to Europe, could feature in the ski events.

“Danielle Scott will be another to look out for in swim and craft events.”

Midway, however, will be without Danielle’s brother and New Zealand surf lifesaving rep Matt, who has swimming commitments.

The swell forecast is for 0.5 metres to a metre of surf over the three days and mainly fine weather.

GISBORNE'S contingent at the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships in Christchurch will be the smallest for many years, but the medal count could still be substantial.

Just over 50 surf athletes from Gisborne will compete at New Brighton Beach: 29 from Waikanae, 15 from Riversun Wainui and nine from Dawson Building Midway.

The carnival started today with the masters championships. Waikanae members Debbie Hutchings and Michelle Mitchell were the only Gisborne competitors.

“We are both looking forward to it and always try to be as competitive as we can,” Hutchings said yesterday.

“Michelle has by far the bigger day, competing in all the swim and craft events, and I hope to do well again on the beach.”

The first of the 100-plus (under-16 to open level) events hits the beach at 8am tomorrow.

Waikanae are looking to build on their second overall placing at the Eastern Regional championships at Mount Maunganui in late January — the second biggest carnival on the lifesaving calendar.

“The result from the Mount showed that head coach Cory Hutchings’ training programme is pretty amazing and we are very happy with the progress,” a Waikanae club official said.

“We will have potential finalists in all areas in Christchurch, particularly in craft events and on the beach.”

Hutchings said it was great to have so many competitors going down.

“It shows the strength of the club and we definitely have a few to look out for like New Zealand representative beach exponents Casie Fyall and Jamie Gedye, and ski paddler Quaid Thompson.

“We are pretty strong across the age divisions, particularly under-16 and under-19, and some of our juniors will also compete in open events.

“The main focus is to continue building on what we have achieved in the past few years.”

Hutchings said to get in the top five clubs at the nationals would be brilliant.

Wainui coach Dion Williams said the club had been boosted by the appearance of world championship-winning Black Fins squad member Laura Quilter in what would be her first appearance at a surf nationals for several years.

“Laura brings her professional approach and international experience, and that can only rub off on the other members of our team.

“We are also excited to have Jasmine Smith back from Australia. Jas always brings extremely high quality board paddling with her and sets up any team she is in,” Williams said.

Smith and Georgia Harris will be defending the open women’s board rescue national title they won at Ohope last summer.

Williams said the u19 and open board relay and board rescue events were serious medal chances.

“Our under-19 men’s canoe team won a gold and a bronze last year in Ohope and we hope for something like that again.

“Joe Puddick and Jack Virtue are good chances in the tube and board rescue events. I am extremely happy with the state of the team and how well they have prepared. They are raring to go and ready to charge.”

Midway coach Matt Sutton said they had a small but close-knit team entered as the club went through a rebuilding phase.

“But we are lucky to still have some of the best surf athletes around in the likes of Cory Taylor and Olivia Corrin.”

Taylor is back from the Northcliff club on Australia’s Gold Coast and will be making another strong crack at regaining the open ironman title.

“Cory’s been the bridesmaid in that event in the past two seasons and he is going to Christchurch to win it again,” Sutton said. “Olivia is an unbelievable athlete and I expect to see her feature in the under-19 board and ironwoman. She is probably the most exciting female surf athlete the country has seen for a while.”

Sutton said Alex Bermingham, who was named in the New Zealand under-18 sprint kayak team to race to Europe, could feature in the ski events.

“Danielle Scott will be another to look out for in swim and craft events.”

Midway, however, will be without Danielle’s brother and New Zealand surf lifesaving rep Matt, who has swimming commitments.

The swell forecast is for 0.5 metres to a metre of surf over the three days and mainly fine weather.

What: New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships

When: Today to Sunday.

Where: New Brighton, Christchurch.

Who: 1276 clubbies from 45 clubs in masters, open, under-19 and u16 age groups in beach and ocean events.

Also: Mount Maunganui are defending the Allan Gardner Memorial Trophy for top overall club.

West Auckland club Piha has the biggest contingent — 70.

Surf Life Saving NZ high performance squads will be named at the end of the carnival.

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