Hawke’s Bay surf lifesaver Daniel Moodie has joined the elite ranks of the sport, qualifying for the lucrative Kelloggs series in Australia today.
The 22-year-old Westshore club member secured one of 11 qualifying spots in Tugun, Gold Coast, and will line up in the A$250,000 ($320,000) five-round series starting in January.
He’s just the third New Zealand male to break into the professional ranks, after Cory Hutchings and Glenn Anderson, and may be joined by New Zealand teammate Madison Boon who finished one spot out of qualifying but could get a wildcard.
“It’s a dream come true – it’s one of the pinnacles of the sport and the level of racing is pretty incredible and it will be great to be a part of it,” Moodie said.
“I just had to make those `A’ finals and consistently get enough points. I would’ve liked a couple of better results but I guess I can save those for the series now.”
Moodie made all three ‘A’ finals over the weekend, with a best placing of seventh in yesterday’s second round to finish ninth overall.
He was drawn in the toughest semifinal in today’s final round and narrowly made it through into the top-ten.
“Making that last final was the key thing and then I just had to make sure I stayed in front of the guys behind me on points. It was a really hard semifinal and I just scraped through but that was probably what sealed it for me.”
Boon, meanwhile, has an anxious wait until tomorrow to discover if she’s picked up the wildcard but she impressed selectors with a gutsy comeback.
“I made a massive mistake in my first race and didn’t make the `A’ final and I had to fight from the back of the pack for the rest of the weekend,” Boon, who came off her ski in that first race, said.
“I thought it was all over but got ninth in the second round and went into today knowing I had to at least finish in the top-five. I felt really good when I warmed up and managed to get third which was pretty satisfying.”
Australian stars Flora Manciet and Hayley Bateup were the only athletes to beat her in today's final, and Australian-born Boon – who competes for Gisborne’s Midway club - feels she’s got a good chance to be included.
“I’ve got a lot of people going into bat for me in the selection meeting tonight so I’m confident I’ll get that last spot.”
The 12 male and female qualifiers from last year’s series will join the top-11 and wildcards for the series, which starts at Kurrawa on January 16 and 17.
Former Muriwai star Lucy Pengelly was the last New Zealander to compete in the Kellogg’s series in 2007, with New Plymouth Old Boys coach Anderson completing the last of his three seasons in 2006.