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Oceans ’21 calls juniors

SURF LIFESAVING

JUNIOR surf athletes from Gisborne have been champing at the bit this week ahead of their national championships at Mt Maunganui and they should score a good stack of medals.

The Oceans ’21 event begins at the Mount tomorrow morning, and runs into Sunday.

The three Gisborne clubs will have a total of 42 youngsters taking part.

More than 800 junior members from 47 surf lifesaving clubs around the country will be at the Mount for the four-day championships.

“Oceans ’21 turns 21 this year and there is a sense of relief and celebration in the air,” Mackenzie Koppel from Surf Life Saving New Zealand said.

“Last week’s Covid-19 alert level changes raised uncertainty as to whether the junior champs could go ahead — and whether Auckland competitors would be able to attend if the city remained at Alert Level 2.

“Hundreds of participants held their breath leading up to Monday afternoon’s announcement of a return to Level 1.”

Oceans ’21 is an iconic Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) tradition which encapsulates the joy, excitement and skill involved in Surf Lifesaving, she says.

“It also provides a chance for kids aged 10 to 14 to test their mettle in a safe surf environment.”

The youngsters will compete in events designed to emulate real-life beach rescue situations — in swim, board and beach disciplines.

“We’re expecting a decent swell throughout the competition and our juniors will be provided with an awesome opportunity to test their surf lifesaving skills,” SLSNZ sport events manager Mark Inglis said.

“These young people are the future of surf lifesaving and we cannot wait to see what they’re capable of.”

Dawson Building Midway will have the biggest Gisborne contingent in action, with 23 athletes,

“I think they’ll go well,” Midway junior coach Jared Phelps said.

“We’re in for a bit of surf and that will motivate them to go even harder.

“Our teams should be among our main strengths, and if the forecast swell eventuates our board paddlers should go well, too.”

Midway performed very well at the Eastern Regional junior championships and at the Gisborne junior champs.

“We hope to carry that good form over into the Oceans event,” Phelps said.

“This will be our last event of the season for the kids and they are fizzing about it. They’re good to go.”

Riversun Wainui will have 11 on the start lines.

“I’m really excited to take my junior crew to their nationals,” Wainui head coach Dion Williams said.

“We have some good medal chances and with the prospect of surf those chances are further improved. Wainui kids usually shine brighter in the surf.”

Like Phelps, he declined to name any particular individuals.

Kaiaponi Farms Waikanae club manager Clara Wilson said they would have a team of eight taking part.

“It’s a small team but there’s some quality about it.

“Chloe Kapene should do well in her under-14 events.

“The likes of Rubi Hart and Jerome Tamatea have been strong in the beach flags and sprints this season.

“Felix Sparks is another we hope to see go well, along with Jack McNaught.

“Georgie Beaufoy will have her first run in competition this weekend in the u12 division, and is looking forward to doing the beach flags, which she won at the local championships.”

More than 800 junior surf lifesavers from 47 clubs around New Zealand will take part in Oceans ’21, the national junior championships held annually at Mt Maunganui. Scenes like this, from last year’s Oceans event, will be common at the Mt Maunganui main beach over the next four days. All three Gisborne clubs will be represented at the carnival.Picture by Rod Salt