SURF LIFESAVING

World champions highlight North Island IRB titles

Thursday 9 December 2010, 2:40PM
By Surf Life Saving New Zealand
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WAITAKERE CITY

World champion IRB racers Andrew Cronin and James Moorwood will try to shake off the rust at the 2010 BP Surf Rescue North Island championships at Waihi Beach this weekend.

The crew from East End in Taranaki won the single rescue, mass rescue and tube rescue titles in lake-like conditions at Alexandria's Mamoura Beach in October but since then have had a well-earned break.

"We've hardly touched a boat since we got back from the World champs - James has been in Australia for a month working and we haven't been able to do any training," Cronin said. "We're just aiming to go out and have a bit of fun this weekend. It will be nice to get back in the boat and see where we are at and what we need to do to get on track for nationals."

With their arch-rivals and fellow Taranaki crew Jaron Mumby and Chris Scott (Fitzroy) retiring at the end of last season, Cronin and Moorwood will go into the premier division as warm favourites, despite their lack of training.

But Paekakariki's crew of Richard Whinham and Brent Harvey will be leading the challengers, along with Muriwai pair Ash Matushka and Andrew Lancaster, while Waimarama duo Michael Harman and Ben Cross are making the step up from the senior division.

Whinham and Harvey won the single rescue final at the North Island titles last year, while Ocean Beach Kiwi's Nick Anderson and Shane Bennett also featured.

Cronin is hoping the Bay of Plenty coast can produce some worthy swell, to emulate the Taranaki conditions he's used to.

"Racing in the premier division is always close so it will be tough to pick who will do well but some surf to race in would be nice. The forecast isn't looking promising but the bigger the better for us - I don't know any IRB drivers who aspire to race on a lake, but we will get what we are given."

East End's top women's crew of Laura Begg and Kirsty May should also feature, although Fitzroy's Emma Crofskey and Katie Watts dominated their division last year, along with St Clair sisters Carla and Stephanie Laughton.

More than 70 crews will line up at Waihi Beach from Saturday morning, with crews competing in tube rescue, single rescue, mass rescue and assembly rescue.

East End won the overall North Island title last year with 60 points, ahead of Fitzroy on 49 and Muriwai on 42.