Woodhill, Auckland. A busy weekend of orienteering racing saw 2010 Silva Superseries winners Ross Morrison and Angela Simpson retain their titles by slight margins.
The competition for the top place amongst the New Zealand elite was fierce – and it wasn’t until the final of the weekend’s five races that the result was clear.
2010 champion Morrison started the weekend emphatically, winning by three minutes from Australian Simon Uppill.
But his next win at the sprint race (Massey Campus, Albany) that afternoon was a wasted effort as the course was invalidated and declared unofficial due to a technical fault.
It started to unravel then for the aptly nicknamed “Rocketman” as 2009 NZ sprint champion Karl Dravitzki picked up the day 2 win to pass Morrison on overall series points.
Morrison needed to finish within 9 places of Dravitzki on the last day to regain the series (best 6 of 9 races), and given the highly technical contours of the Woodhill sand-dunes and the confident form of Dravitzki, this was a big ask.
Starting early with the trans-Tasman bloc of racers, Morrison passed several to finish first; but team-mate Toby Scott finished next with a faster time.
The next to take the lead was local Gene Beveridge, 2 minutes ahead of Scott, leaving Morrison in third.
A fast sprint to the finish from Karl Dravitzki, from the last of the 25 checkpoints with the same time as Morrison had spectators checking watches and waiting for the announcer to call the result to the second.
It was just three seconds between the two; Dravitzki third, Morrison fourth, but it was more than enough for Morrison to win the 2011 Silva Superseries.
Dravitzki took second overall for the year, marking an impressive comeback, and a super-consistent weekend of 2nd and 3rd placings from Scott saw him move into third overall for the year.
In similar fashion, last years woman’s winner Angela Simpson had to perform well in the last race after an average two races and a non-allowed sprint win.
Perform well she did, winning by 2 minutes from Australian Rachel Effeney and holding onto her Silva Superseries title.
A win from Amber Morrison on day two wasn’t enough to overtake Simpson but put her in a clear 2nd place overall, ahead of junior elite Laura Robertson.
This year series was marked by the high number of elite juniors winning and placing, making up half of the final top three - Scott, Simpson and Robertson, a great sign for the team at the upcoming Junior orienteering Worlds in July.
Just as keenly observed was the ongoing clash between the Australian Bushrangers team of elites and the New Zealand Pinestars.
While the locals were favoured to win, it was never a sure thing, with strong teams selected from both sides of the ditch.
New Zealand took an early lead on the cumulative points format to head into the mixed relay on tired but confident legs.
Angela Simpson was back first handing over to Tom Reynolds, while Kate Morrison handed over to brother Ross in third place behind an Australian team.
Ross had his ”best run of the weekend” to pass the two team in front and lead New Zealand in, with Tom’s team in third and the Pinestars still in front on points.
The final event, with Scott in 2nd and Morrison 4th ahead of best Aussies Simon Uppill (7th) and Rob preston (8th) clinched the Match for the New Zealand Pinestars.
The rematch takes place in Australia in October, alongside the Oceania Championships, where they are looking to get their hands on the trophy for the first time in several years.