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Local supremacy goes on the line

IRB ACTION: Multiple New Zealand title winners Connor Mitchell and Oliver Shivnan will be in action tonight in the inflatable rescue boat component of the Tairawhiti surf lifesaving championships at Waikanae Beach. There will also be surf canoe action like this. Pictures by Paul Rickard
Surf Lifesaving Rep Challenge - Canoe Race

The Ralph Morse Shield for Tairawhiti surf lifesaving club supremacy goes on the line over the next few days with around 80 surf athletes battling it out for the overall title.

Kaiaponi Farms Waikanae will be looking to successfully defend the top local club competition title for another year, with Dawson Building Midway and Riversun Wainui out to take it off them.

The senior championships provide competition across the age groups from under 15, 17 and 19, to open races for males and females, and event ranging from IRB, to canoes, board and ski, surf swim and beach events.

Joining the Gisborne clubs in the three days of competition will be athletes from Paekakariki Surf Lifeguards.

The championships will be staged at Waikanae and Midway beaches, and at the new sand track.

The local titles start with a twilight carnival this evening at Wailkanae, another twilight tomorrow evening and a full day of racing on Saturday.

"This will be the first competition that many of our lifeguards have seen in over a year because of the impact of Covid," said eastern region sport manager Sonia Keepa.

"Locally it's is an opportunity to see where the athletes are at in their training, to line up with their mates and race hard locally for their clubs.

"This is a build-up towards the Eastern Region Championships held in Mount Maunganui over Auckland Anniversary Weekend at the end of January.

"For many of our Lifeguards it has been a long time between races and we are so excited to see them hit the beach and surf for a fantastic weekend of racing."

Mrs Keepa said competing athletes must be fully vaccinated, refreshed as lifeguards, and must scan in prior to competition.

The same applies to all other attendees at the championships, coaches, managers, water safety, officials and spectators aged 12 years and 3 months or older within the defined competition areas to provide proof of vaccination by scanning their My Vaccine Pass.

At the conclusion of the championships on Saturday a medal presentation ceremony will be held at Waikanae.

"IRB racing has been included in the programme this year, however, no points for the Ralph Morse Shield will be allocated to the overall score this year," Mrs Keepa said.

"A separate IRB point score will be run and included in the event prize giving."

The evening for tonight's twilight, from 5.30pm, includes a 2km beach run, double ski, IRB, and canoe races.

Tomorrow night the champs shift to Midway, again from 5.30pm.