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Champs unstoppable: Seventh consecutive shield victory for Waikanae

SUPREMACY HAS BEEN DECIDED: Waikanae Surf Lifesaving Club hung the Ralph Morse Shield on the wall of their clubhouse again after a clear victory in the local club championships on Saturday.Picture by Paul Rickard

Waikanae were unstoppable on their home beach on Saturday as they marched relentlessly to their seventh successive Ralph Morse Shield victory.

Midway were just 36 points behind heading into the final day of the contest for local club surf lifesaving supremacy. In the end, though, the numbers were firmly in favour of the defending champions.

Kaiaponi Farms Waikanae steadily extended their lead to amass 427 points, with Dawson Building Midway on 334, and Riversun Wainui on 20.

Waikanae racked up 32 team wins and 35 individual victories, while Midway had 23 team wins and 15 individual titles.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand eastern region sport manager Sonia Keepa said it was a “fantastic” competition.

“The atmosphere on the beach was amazing and it was really great to see the skill levels on show, particularly during the board and tube rescues on Friday night.”

Waikanae head coach Cory Hutchings said it was an “awesome” result for the club.

“I could not have been prouder of the kids. They raced their butts off.

“The interclub rivalry was great. It felt like the old days a bit. The kids are starting to really embrace the culture around that.”

Hutchings said he was “super proud” of the club’s first-timers and youngsters, who really stepped up.

Jack Keepa was one of their standouts in his first season with Waikanae after a shift from Wainui.

He won the under-19 and open ironman titles, the u19 surf race and board, and was part of many winning combinations in the team events.

“It was good to get lots of points for the club,” Keepa said.

“That was the top priority at the end of the day.”

Of his double ironman wins, Keepa said, “I got a wave lead on the board, put in a strong swim and then held on, on the ski.

“My aim now is to carry that form into the business end of the season at the nationals.”

His clubmate Lachie Falloon was another colossus for the club, with wins in the open men’s board and ski, and a huge contribution in team events.

Briana Irving dominated the women’s beach events yet again with five titles, while Seven Mapu and Oska Smith dominated the open, u19 and u17 sprints.

Chloe Kapene was another standout with wins in the u15 board, diamond, surf race, beach sprint and beach run.

Midway head coach Matt Sutton was proud of the way his club took up the challenge.

“The final margin surprised me a little but the local champs are a numbers game, and in the end we didn’t quite have the numbers.

“Overall the result is an indication of where we’re at as a club.

“I’m certainly very happy with the way the people we’ve got racing performed. They were all really great.”

He singled out Yahni Brown, who dominated the u15 boys’ division, winning the ski, board, surf race, beach run and diamond.

“Yahni’s a tough young kid, and he’s going to do really well.

“Jacob Corrin was another standout for us. He’s a real leader.

“Sophie Petro did a million races and did really well in all of them.”

Angus Blair was another to produce outstanding results, with wins in the u17 ironman, and the surf and board races.

Wainui fielded only a handful of competitors but their head coach Dion Williams was pleased with how they went.

“We had only a small number of results, but there was great racing from our small crew,” Williams said.

“We will aim to do better in the locals next year.”

Wainui’s sole title was won by up-and-coming paddler Hannah Webb in the u15 ski.

On Saturday, they had second placings to Jonty Evans and Ava Smith in the u19 board, and to Sofia Zame in the u19 beach flags.

The clubs now set their sights on the Eastern Regional Championships at Mt Maunganui on Auckland Anniversary weekend.