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Just a point in it

Waikanae retained the Ralph Morse Memorial Trophy for Gisborne surf lifesaving club supremacy at the weekend.

They beat Midway by one point in a titanic battle.

In the Gisborne component of the combined championships, Kaiaponi Farms Waikanae scored 290 points and Dawson Building Midway finished on 289. Riversun Wainui were third on 98.

The Mount Maunganui club won the overall Eastland Port Champion of the Bays component of the carnival, in a separate scoring system, with 216 points.

Waikanae were second to them in the Champion of the Bays, on 165. Then came Omanu on 112, Midway 88, Wainui 68, Whakatane 62 and Papamoa 54.

It was no surprise the Mount came out on top overall, but it was a sensational performance by Midway to go so close to winning the Gisborne component of the championships.

For Waikanae, it was their fifth straight win in the Gisborne championship.

Midway and Waikanae went tit for tat on the points table in the final few hours of the competition yesterday as their athletes put it all on the line in a performance that made both club head coaches proud.

“We haven't been challenged like that locally for a long time,” Waikanae head coach Cory Hutchings said.

“The Waikanae kids stood up, fought hard, and did events they don't normally do, for their club. They showed real club pride and that was more rewarding than the result.

“I was proud of them all. They showed real character.

“It was a fantastic competition. Well done Midway, and well done Wainui, too.”

Hutchings declined to pick out any individuals.

“There were no individual stars for me. They all stepped out of their comfort zones and did what they needed to do for the club.”

Midway head coach Matt Sutton echoed his comments around the commitment shown by Midway's athletes.

“While it was disappointing to miss out on winning the trophy by just one point, I'm actually quite happy to be disappointed, because we haven't been in a position to be disappointed for a few years,” Sutton said.

Last year Waikanae won the title with 244 points more than Midway.

“We're definitely improving and I'm happpy that we put up such a good fight this weekend.”

He, too, declined to pick out any of his athletes.

“All our competitors should be proud of themselves.”

Wainui head coach Dion Williams said he was happy to have gone so close to scoring 100 points in the championships. The result was better than the club had achieved in recent years.

“We're real happy,” he said.

“Some events we were absolutely charging in, but we cannot compete numbers-wise with the other clubs.

“We put the pressure on them though, and had some outstanding successes.”

Williams singled out Ava Smith and Jonty Evans for their efforts in the under-19 division, and Jack Keepa in the u16s.

“They showed some real skills.

“Our team events, particularly in the board, were fantastic. Noah Collier and Hue Cowie were outstanding.”

The club's performance in the surf canoe was influential in the closeness of the overall result.

Waikanae had dominated the canoe arena for the past few seasons, but on Saturday Wainui won four of the eight titles — the open men's and u19 women's long- and short-course races.

“It was incredible seeing the development in both our young under-19 women's crews . . . their future looks really bright,” Williams said.

“And our young open men's canoe team came out to play and showed off their old-school skills.”

Club development officer Sonia Keepa summed up the championships for many.

“It was a fantastic weekend of racing,” she said.

“The Gisborne conditions turned it on again, allowing the competitors to shine.”

EDGED: Waikanae sprinter Seven Mapu (left) is just beaten to the “flag” by Omanu sprinter Tanner Baxter, who went on to win the under-19 beach flags at the Champion of the Bays carnival on Saturday. Pictures by Paul Rickard
SPRINT TO THE LINE: Waikanae competitor Georgie Pitkethley (left) and eventual winner Ava Smith, of Wainui, stride out in the under-19 board race in the Champion of the Bays surf lifesaving carnival on Saturday.
NEW WAVE OF TALENT: Competitors in an under-16 men’s board race heat ride Midway Beach waves towards shore at the Champion of the Bays surf lifesaving carnival over the weekend. Plenty of rising talent was on display, along with the more established athletes. Waikanae pipped Midway by just one point to be top local club overall while Mount Maunganui were the best of the Bay of Plenty clubs.
IT'S ALL MINE: Waikanae’s Jamie Gedye dives to win the open women’s beach flags final ahead of Whangamata’s Maddison Kidd at the Champion of the Bay surf lifesaving carnival held at Midway Beach over the weekend.
Waikanae’s Georgie Pitkethley comes out of the water on her way to victory in the under-19 women’s run-swim-run.
Wainui’s Jack Keepa is closely followed by Waikanae’s Lachie Falloon in the under-16 ironman final. Falloon won the race, with Keepa third and Falloon went on to top the age group overall from Keepa. The Ralph Morse Shield for top overall Gisborne club went to the wire — Waikanae pipping Midway by one point.