Contest sees big surf, bigger business

By Kiri Gillespie


Wild surf and at least 1500 surf lifesaving competitors battling it out for a national title combined to create one of Mount Maunganui's busiest weekends of the year.

From Friday until yesterday afternoon Mount Maunganui Surf Life Saving Club hosted the State New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships, which sent lifeguards, cafe staff and accommodation providers into overdrive.

Glenn Bradley, general manager of Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service, said the weekend had been exceptionally busy for club members competing and others on patrol.

Volunteer lifeguards were involved in 10 rescues and a first aid assist.

Washing machine-like surf conditions also resulted in a re-jigging of the events' programme on Friday, switching some weekend events to water that was more sheltered.

Mr Bradley said that without the help of Surf Life Saving New Zealand, the task of hosting the event would have been "very challenging".

"For us it has been a great pleasure to host the nationals on our home beach. It's great for us to have it here and the place we train and spend all year round at.

"The local businesses have been really supportive, with us working in an event of this size in the middle of March."

Sidetrack Cafe barista Kieran Moloney said it was always busy but the weekend had been "absolutely crazy".

"Honestly, at 5.30 in the morning there are cars everywhere and boats heading out.

"Takeaway coffees, they just go and go and go."

Many accommodation providers also felt the impact of the event.

Belle Mer Apartments manager Mike Gulliver said some apartments tended to wind down at this time of year but they were booked up until mid-April, with the weekend's event being a key factor.

Since the middle of last week, most apartments at Belle Mer were booked by competitors and their families or clubs.

 

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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