Pride will be on the line for the Black Fins at Mount Maunganui as they battle it out in the surf and on the sand to win the International Surf Rescue Challenge for the first time.
While the New Zealand team are current world champions, the Australian team has never lost the international challenge. It came down to the wire as they narrowly beat the Black Fins by just two points at the last event on the Gold Coast in 2015.
“It’s a pretty big deal and we got really close last time,” says Surf Lifesaving New Zealand sport manager Mike Lord.
“The team will definitely be looking to win it off the Aussies this year.”
Held every two years, the beach competition includes three tests which include swim, surf board, surf ski and beach events.
This year there will be seven national open teams and five youth national teams, and with this being the first time New Zealand has hosted the event since 2011, the excitement levels are building.
Mike says it is a chance for Surf Lifesaving New Zealand and our athletes to show what they are made of on an international stage.
“We’re using it as a test, with the idea of hosting world championships here in New Zealand some time over the next eight years,” he says.
“The world championships were last held in New Zealand in 1998.
“Good surf conditions will be important during the event, however all teams are well-used to competing in the ocean.
“If it’s choppy and messy, these guys will be fine. A metre-and-a-half of nice, clean surf would be great, though. I’m sure the athletes would love that.”
Local schools will be visited by the international athletes on Friday, December 1, providing an opportunity for Surf Lifesaving New Zealand to generate interest around the event and surf lifesaving in general.
Junior surf lifesavers will also have a chance to rub shoulders with their surf lifesaving heroes as part of an ambassador programme which will give them access to the competition arenas as ‘runners’ for the team and the chance to experience what it’s like to represent your country.
The first test of the competition will be at Mount Main Beach on Thursday, November 30, followed by the second test on Saturday, December 2 and the last test on Sunday, December 3.
All events run from 9am-3pm and the public are welcome to attend.