Fitzroy flyer Steve Harris caused the big upset on the second day of the NZCT Surf Life Saving championships in Whakatane today.
The 23-year-old former North Harbour rugby sevens player grabbed his first national beach flags title on Ohope Beach, heading off world champions Paul Cracroft-Wilson and Morgan Foster.
Harris has only been in the sport for just over a year and his inexperience showed as his Fitzroy teammate and three-time winner Cracroft-Wilson nursed him through the early rounds.
But when it came down to just the pair of them, Harris pounced.
“Croffy looked after me all the way through, which was great of him, and I just got a shoulder in front of him on the dive,” Harris said. “I never really liked sprinting before but I might have to get into the gym, do some proper training and give flags a bit of a nudge now.”
Triple world champion Foster couldn’t seal his 10th national flags title a day after winning the beach sprint and was pushed into fourth by Waikanae’s Daniel Harris.
South Brighton’s Chanel Hickman retained her women’s flags title, again heading off Mount Maunganui’s Chelsea Maples, with Red Beach’s Naomi Young third.
Lyall Bay’s gun women swimmers Kelsey Moffatt, Emma Robinson, Georgia Hind and Chantelle Cowlrick won the surf teams race and the other minor upset of the day came in the men’s surf team race.
Experienced campaigners Blair Dunn, James Ryan and Brad Wilson paired with 15-year-old Danny Kayes to clinche another gold for Papamoa, with the Bay of Plenty club continuing an impressive rise up the overall standings.
Papamoa is now second after two days of competition on 45 points, just eight behind leaders Mount Maunganui and nine clear of third-placed New Plymouth Old Boys.
New Plymouth’s efforts were again led by New Zealand captain Glenn Anderson, who combined with Dylan Dunlop-Barrett to win the open tube rescue title, with the pair also anchoring their club to second in the surf teams race.
Mairangi Bay's Mike Lee, Kevin Morrison and Travis Mitchell grabbed the men's ski relay gold, while Midway's Leesa Barton, Maddie Boon and Emily Willock secured the women's ski relay title.
St Clair sisters Carla and Stephanie Laughton claimed the women's tube rescue title and Orewa trio Teneale Hatton, Georgia Butt and Connie Richards won the women’s board relay.
Mount Maunganui’s title charge was helped by more success in the under-16 and under-19 agegroups, along with a memorable board relay win by Nathan Henderson, Andrew Newton and David Graham.
Tomorrow’s final day sees Hawke’s Bay’s Daniel Moodie gunning for a fifth consecutive ironman crown, while Titahi Bay’s champion surf boat crew will be looking to retire with twin wins in the long and short course finals.
Surf teams: Papamoa 1, New Plymouth Olds Boys 2, Midway 3. Tube rescue: New Plymouth Old Boys 1, Titahi Bay 2, Midway 3. Ski Relay. Mairangi Bay A 1, Mairangi Bay B 2, Taylors Mistake 3. Board relay: Mt Maunganui 1, Mairangi Bay 2, Midway 3. Beach flags: Steve Harris (Fitzroy) 1, Paul Cracroft-Wilson (Fitzroy/Kurrawa) 2, Daniel Harris (Waikanae) 3.
Run-swim-run: Dylan Dunlop-Barrett (New Plymouth Old Boys) 1, Benjamin Gillies (Westshore) 2, Blake Williamson (Mt Maunganui) 3. Surf teams: Red Beach 1, New Plymouth Old Boys 2, Westshore 3. Tube rescue: Lyall Bay 1, Muriwai 2, St Clair White 3. Ski relay: South Brighton 1, Red Beach 2, Wainui 3. Board relay: Paekakariki 1, Papamoa 2, Red Beach 3. Beach flags: Toby Harris (Wainui) 1, James Banhidi (Mt Maunganui) 2, Dylan McKay (Worser Bay) 3.
Surf teams: Papamoa 1, Paekakariki 2, Waikanae 3. Tube rescue: Waikanae 1, Piha 2, Lyall Bay 3. Board relay: Waikanae 1, Papamoa B 2, Papamoa A 3. Beach flags: Corey Adams (Waikanae) 1, Kodi Harman (Papamoa) 2, Daniel Kayes (Papamoa) 3.
Surf teams: Lyall Bay 1, New Plymouth Old Boys) 2, Westshore 3. Tube rescue: St Clair White 1, Taylors Mistake 2, New Plymouth Old Boys 3. Ski relay: Midway A 1, Mairangi Bay 2, Mt Maunganui 3. Board relay: Orewa 1, Mt Maunganui 2, Mairangi Bay 3. Beach flags: Chanel Hickman (South Brighton) 1, Chelsea Maples (Mt Maunganui/Kurrawa) 2, Naomi Young (Red Beach) 3.
Run-swim-run: Kirsty Wannan (Piha) 1, Britta Carroll (Waikanae) 2, Georgia Lloyd (Red Beach) 3. Surf teams: Lyall Bay 1, Piha 2, New Plymouth Old Boys 3. Tube rescue: Red Beach 1, Paekakariki 2, New Plymouth Old Boys 3. Ski relay: Mt Maunganui 1, Red Beach 2, Paekakariki 3. Board relay: Mt Maunganui 1, Westshore 2, South Brighton 3. Beach flags: Simone Baarspul (Ocean Beach Kiwi) 1, Sophie Petherick (Ocean Beach Kiwi) 2, Alison Craigie (Muriwai) 3.
Surf teams: Papamoa 1, Mt Maunganui 2, Waikanae 3. Tube rescue: Omanu 1, St Clair 2, Lyall Bay 3. Board relay: Papamoa 1, Omanu 2, Mt Maunganui 3. Beach flags: Tyler Baldwin (Red Beach) 1, Kayla Herbert (Red Beach) 2, Paula Martin (New Plymouth Old Boys) 3.
Points (after two days, not including canoe finals): Mt Maunganui 53, Papamoa 45, New Plymouth Old Boys 36, Red Beach 30, South Brighton 27, Lyall Bay 23, Mairangi Bay 22, Waikanae 21, Midway 19, Westshore 12, Piha 11, St Clair 9, Wainui 9, Taylors Mistake 9, Orewa 8, Paekakariki 8, Omanu 8, Ocean Beach Kiwi 7, Fitzroy 7, Waimarama 5, Muriwai 4, Waimairi 3, Titahi Bay 3, Sumner 3, Worser Bay 1, North Beach 1.