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Big margin, tough contest

Gisborne Surf Life Saving Champs.

Waikanae outscored their opposition by a big margin on Saturday in the Gisborne Surf Life Saving Championships at Midway Beach but the margin did not reflect the toughness of the competition.

Kaiaponi Farm Waikanae amassed 415 points to comprehensively win the Ralph Morse Memorial Shield, well ahead of Midway, on 325, after a single point separated them last year.

Riversun Wainui, with a team of only 12, earned 61 competition points.

Ocean Beach Kiwi, from Hawke's Bay, also attended and scored 46 points, mainly in beach events. Paekakariki scored four and Waihi three.

Waikanae won 31 team titles and 25 individual titles, Midway 22 team titles and 11 individual, and Wainui three team titles and six individual titles.

“The champs went very well for us and we're stoked with the result,” Waikanae head coach Cory Hutchings said.

“It was a really good performance from everyone and everyone contributed to our points, which was good to see.”

Hutchings said the open ironman win to Lachie Falloon was one of his race highlights for the weekend.

“Lachie had some good men in front of him but he chased them down.

“He had gone around the turning cans more than 30 times during the championships at that point, and was very tired. He showed real character to win it.”

The 16-year-old powered away on the final ski leg and won comfortably.

“It was amazing; I couldn't believe it,” Falloon said.

“I chose the right line out through the surf on the ski and just went for it.”

Hutchings said he believed Falloon was the youngest athlete to have won the Gisborne open ironman title.

As well as that title, Falloon won the under-17 board and ski and the open board final, along with numerous team titles.

“I was pretty sore when I finished the day, but I was stoked to do what I could to help my club win,” he said.

Hutchings said the Waikanae win in the last event, the men's open taplin relay, was another highlight.

“It put the stamp on what we had achieved.

“It was a really good race with Midway to decide the taplin title, with six men from each club up against each other (in the swim, ski and board).”

Waikanae's other multiple individual title-winners included beach sprinter Briana Irving, who won the u19 flags and sprint, the open beach flags and sprint and the two-kilometre beach run in her age group.

Oska Smith had wins in the open male beach sprint and flags and u17 sprint and flags.

Midway head coach Matt Sutton said that while it was disappointing to come second, their club's athletes produced some great performances.

“Sophie Petro competed really well, for example, across all age groups.

“But the biggest thing was the attitude of our group, and the way they conducted themselves on the beach. Their attitude towards competing for Midway was what made me really proud.”

One of Sutton's standout performances came from under-15 competitor Yahni Brown, who took out the u15 board race.

“He's only just come out of nippers. That was an amazing performance against older kids.

“I agree the final points scoreline was not a true reflection of how tough the competition was, but certainly there's no denying Waikanae's depth.

“They have more depth than we have at present. We're working on it but it takes time.”

Sutton, himself, competed vigorously for a 38-year-old across the weekend, and won the open surf race, and was second in the ski and third in the ironman.

“I had an absolute ball,” he said.

“It was really cool to be back on the start-line at that level of competition again after six to eight years.”

Midway's other standout individuals included Angus Blair, with wins in the u17 surf race and ironman, and Tyron Evans, with wins in the u15 surf race and diamond.

Wainui's standouts included Ava Smith, who won the u19 surf race, the open women's board and the u19 board race.

“She paddled really well against opposition that was New Zealand team standard,” said the club's head coach, Dion Williams.

“I also thought Sofia Zame was one of our stars.”

Zame won the u17 board, beach sprint and beach flags.

“Overall I was really happy with how our little crew went,” Williams said. “Everyone raced well.

“We missed out on some team events because we just didn't have the numbers, but I'm more than happy with what we did achieve.”

Overall age group winners — Open female: Briana Irving (Waik). Open male: Lachie Falloon (Waik). U19 female: Briana Irving (Waik). U19 male: Nathan Proctor (Waik).U17 female: Sofia Zame (Wain). U17 male: Lachie Falloon (Waik). U15 female: Sophie Petro (Mid). U15 male: Jack Lepper (Mid).

More photos taken at the contest can be found here.

finishing BURST: Angus Blair, of Midway, sprints through the shallows on his way to victory in the male under-17 surf race at the Gisborne Surf Life Saving Championships on Saturday. Pictures by Paul Rickard
SAND SPRINT: Oska Smith, of Waikanae, gets to the 'flag' just ahead of Corban Watson, of Ocean Beach Kiwi, Hawke's Bay, in the male open beach flags at the Gisborne club championships at Midway Beach on Saturday.
Paddle power: Hue Cowie, of Wainui, comes out of the water on the way to second place in the male under-17 board race at Midway Beach on Saturday.