Gisborne has been given a firm tick of approval, as some of the best junior surf lifesavers in the country prepare to arrive in the city.
The 2016 Eastland Port Eastern Region junior championships at Midway Beach have attracted nearly 450 under-14 athletes from 15 clubs.
The championships are being rotated around the Eastern Region – shared between Waihi Beach, Whakatane and Midway – and Gisborne’s first hosting has surpassed all expectations from organisers.
“We feared there might be a drop-off in numbers because of the extra travel involved but clubs have obviously decided the quality of Midway’s beach and surf is too much to miss,” Eastern Region sport manager Mark Inglis said. “It’s one of our most popular senior national championship venues and the next generation of surf lifesavers are pretty keen to test themselves at Midway as well.”
The Cory Hutchings-coached Waikanae club boasts the biggest contingent of entries, with 69 athletes, although Midway (45) and Wainui (43) are not far behind.
Traditional Bay of Plenty powerhouses Papamoa (63), Omanu (60) and Mount Maunganui (56) are also bringing large teams, while Waihi Beach, Whakatane, Whangamata and Westshore will also be competitive across all agegroups.
What’s impressed Inglis are the entries from Auckland, where Mairangi Bay and Orewa will both be represented, as well as a couple of athletes from Otaki and five from Hot Water Beach in the northern Coromandel.
“There are some impressive distances to be traveled to get here this weekend but the weather and swell forecasts both look particularly inviting.”
Having Eastland Port on board as a major sponsor was also hugely encouraging for the future of the event, he said.
Racing starts at 7.45am on Saturday and continues through until Sunday afternoon, with agegroups ranging from under-8 to under-14.