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The depth of Wellington's swimming talent helped Lyall Bay to an early lead after the first day of the Ocean Athlete under-14 national surf lifesaving championships in Mount Maunganui today.
With a decent 1.5m swell running at the Bay of Plenty beach, organisers opted to get through a large chunk of beach events, with the run-swim-run finals staged late in the day as the surf eased.
It proved to be something of a benefit for Central North Island juniors, with Lyall Bay stars Ciaran Ryan (under-14 boys) and Hayley Cox (under-13 girls) comfortably winning their respective finals.
Otaki's Tainui Kaihau won the under-12 boys in a great tussle with Lyall Bay's Nico van der Wilt, while Waikanae's Georgia Donnelly outsprinted Lyall Bay's Tori Watt in the under-12 girls, with another Wellington competitor, Worser Bay's Anna Plunkett, completing the trifecta.
Bay of Plenty athletes also finished the day strongly, with Mount Maunganui siblings Jess and Hamish Miller grabbing a notable double within moments of each other.
Younger brother Hamish romped home in the under-11 boys race, while less than a minute later, 14-year-old Jess grabbed the senior girls crown with a classy late flourish in the shallows.
Papamoa's Mason Pickering also needed a late burst to beat his Mount Maunganui rival Matthew Hyde in the under-13 boys, while Pickering's younger sister Maia finished third in the under-11 race behind clubmate Megan McCarty and Piha winner Julia Tairua-Doyle.
Off the beach, multiple world champions Cory Hutchings and Morgan Foster were both kept busy offering advice and acting as event ambassadors.
Australian ironman superstars Shannon Eckstein and Zane Holmes are expected to attend the final two days of the competition in the weekend, along with four-time New Zealand ironman champion and former Ocean Athlete competitor Daniel Moodie.
With the swell expected to ease further tomorrow, action will turn to the board rescue heats, semifinals and finals, as well as qualifying in beach sprint, board relay and the diamond race.
Today's finals results:
Under-11: Boys: Hamish Miller (Mount Maunganui) 1, Levon Hutchinson (Red Beach) 2, Sam Haggerty (Red Beach) 3. Girls: Julia Tairua-Doyle (Piha) 1, Megan McCarty (Papamoa) 2, Maia Bryant (Papamoa) 3.
Under-12: Tainui Kaihau (Otaki) 1, Nico van der Wilt (Lyall Bay) 2, Izaak Scheib (Red Beach) 3. Girls: Georgia Donnelly (Waikanae) 1, Tori Watt (Lyall Bay) 2, Anna Plunkett (Worser Bay) 3.
Under-13: Boys: Mason Bryant (Papamoa) 1, Matthew Hyde (Mount Maunganui) 2, Andrew Trembath (SOuth Brighton) 3. Girls: Hayley Cox (Lyall Bay) 1, Tayla Tulloch (Whakatane) 2, Grace Eglinton (Mount Maunganui) 3.
Under-14: Boys: Ciaran Ryan (Lyall Bay) 1, Ben Cochrane (Omanu) 2, Patrick Wall (Waikanae) 3. Girls: Jessica Miller (Mount Maunganui) 1, Georgina Harris (Wainui) 2, Gracen Luka (Lyall Bay) 3.
Points: (after seven events):
Lyall Bay 11, Mt Maunganui 6, Papamoa 6, Waikanae 4, Piha 3, Otaki 3, Whakatane 2, Wainui 2, Omanu Beach 2, Red Beach 1, Worser Bay 1, South Brighton 1.
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