They were powered by 30cc outboard motors but East End may as well have been driving steam-rollers at the New Zealand IRB championships in Whangamata today.
The Taranaki club annihilated their competition at the season-ending surf lifesaving event, taking out the overall club title by accumulating more than three times the number of points as their closest rivals.
East End finished with 90 points, with Taranaki neighbours Fitzroy second on 28 and Waimarana and St Kilda tied on 26.
World champions Andrew Cronin and James Morwood led the charge for East End, winning all four premier races and picking up a silver in the open teams race. Significantly, it was the club’s second team – helmed by Mitchell Gregg and Scott Nelson – who were the only crew capable of heading Cronin’s team.
“We missed out on the clean sweep but to win all four premier races was pretty special,” Cronin said.
“We've trained a lot and the younger guys especially have put a lot of work in. We've got a lot of history in the club and older guys who have led the way in fundraising and making sure we've got craft to race and we couldn't have done it without them.”
East End won eight gold medal in total, four silvers and five bronze medals.
Fitzroy took out the women’s division, with Emma Crofsky and Katie Watts picking up a record sixth consecutive title. It’s also likely to be their last, with Crofsky revealing plans to retire.
“At this stage, I don’t think I’ll be back – I need a break and six years is a long time,” Crofsky said.
Crofsky was proud of the Taranaki dominance at the event and said the recent regional championships were ideal preparation for the nationals.
“There were a lot of South Island crews on the podium this year so the momentum might be swinging that way but at the moment Taranaki is producing some pretty good crews. We love our IRBs down there!”
The South Island charge was led by St Kilda’s Kinraid brothers, Michael and Sam, in the senior division, while clubmates Julia Clement and Anna Tangata picked up two medals in the women’s division.
Premier: East End (Andrew Cronin/James Morwood/Emma Cronin) 1, Waimarama (Ben Cross/Michael Harman/Leila Cross) 2, East End Black (Campbell Begg/Lisa Cox/Geoffrey Cronin) 3.
Senior: Papamoa (Mitchel Brady/Troy Walsh/Campbell Halse) 1, Otaki (Brad O’Leary/Emma Andrews/Luke Christensen) 2, St Kilda (Michael Kinraid/Sam Kinraid/Melissa Ibbotson) 3.
Under 21: East End (Jared Gray/Scott Nelson/Zoe Avison) 1, United North Piha (Leif Neilson/Miles Regal/Nathan Regal) 2, Taylors Mistake (George Thomas/Finn Brown/Jonty Holmes) 3.
Masters: Mt Maunganui (Quentin Cribb/Brent Warner/Fergus Rieger) 1, East End (Sam Julian/Rhys Sutton/Madison Stratton) 2, Waimarama (Phil Harman/Kim Nilsson/Zoe Nilsson) 3.
Premier: East End Red (Andrew Cronin/James Morwood/Emma Cronin) 1, Waimarama (Ben Cross/Michael Harman/Leila Cross) 2, East End Black (Campbell Begg/Lisa Cox/Geoffrey Cronin) 3.
Senior: East End (Mitchell Gregg/Jack Anderson/Scott Busing) 1, St Kilda (Michael Kinraid/Sam Kinraid/Melissa Ibbotson) 2, North Beach (Luke Edwards/Peter Taylor/Daniel Wakefield) 3. North Beach (Luke Edwards/Peter Taylor/Daniel Wakefield) 3.
Under 21: Mt Maunganui (Chad Wheeler/Kirby Wheeler/Sam Roy) 1, Waimarama (Timothy Cox/Zoe Nilsson/Jason Harman) 2, East End (Jared Gray/Scott Nelson/Zoe Avison) 3.
Assembly rescue: Fitzroy (Emma Crofsky/Katie Watts/Courtney Sole) 1, East End (Kylie Bridger/Sarah Sharp/Rebecca Busing) 2, St Kilda (Julia Clement/Anna Tangata/Kate Robertson) 3.
Single rescue: Fitzroy (Emma Crofsky/Katie Watts/Courtney Sole) 1, Mt Maunganui (Mare Haitsma/Fergus Rieger/Lauren Assink) 2, St Kilda (Julia Clement/Anna Tangata/Kate Robertson) 3.
Open teams race: East End Black (Jared Gray/Mitchell Gregg/Scott Nelson/Scott Busing/Jack Anderson) 1, East End Red (Campbell Begg/Andrew Cronin/James Morwood/Geoffrey Cronin/Emma Cronin) 2, Waimarama (Timothy Cox/Ben Cross/Michael Harman/Jason Harman/Leila Cross) 3.
Final points: East End 90, Fitzroy 28, Waimarama and St Kilda 26, Taylors Mistake and Mt Maunganui 22, Sumner 18, Otaki, 16, Papamoa 15, Sunset Beach 13, New Plymouth Old Boys and St Clair 12, Paekakariki 10, North Beach 8, Muriwai, 7, Opunake 6, Brighton and United North Piha 5, Spencer Park 4, Palmerston North 3, Ruakaka 2, Ruakaka, Waikanae 1.