Mount's paddleboarder takes world title

By Jamie Troughton

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New Zealand's Sam Shergold (front left) makes a break with Australia's Rhys Burrows in the 18km prone paddle board race.  Photo by Michael Tweedle/ISA
New Zealand's Sam Shergold (front left) makes a break with Australia's Rhys Burrows in the 18km prone paddle board race. Photo by Michael Tweedle/ISA

After 18km of lactic-lashing paddling around a Nicaraguan lake, Mount Maunganui lifeguard Sam Shergold then had to get off and sprint for the finish line, although the resulting world championship silver medal left a decidedly sweet taste in his mouth.

Shergold completed the 18km long distance prone race earlier today at the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship (WSUPPC) in Nicaragua, part of a strong New Zealand team which features three other surf lifesavers.

And the 20-year-old took it to his much-vaunted rivals, leading for large chunks of the race and part of two break-away groups.

The first was after 7km, when Shergold was one of four paddlers to break free of the chasing pack, although the decisive move came with still nearly 3km remaining, when he and Australian Rhys Burrows made their move.

It was Burrows, also a surf lifesaver from the Maroochydore club in Queensland, who won the final sprint up the beach to claim gold, however, although Shergold was far from despondent.

"To have a sprint finish after 18km paddling is hard but I'm stoked to finish second after such an epic race and proud to do the job for the Kiwi team here," Shergold told Dscribe Media.

"It was a very tactical race in extremely hot conditions, with little breeze to cool down in the flat areas around the islands, but we managed to use what little downwind there was to break away. It was a fantastic experience to race at this level and I've learned a lot from it."

Omanu clubby Ashley Cochrane finished fourth in her long-distance race on Friday while she and Shergold's Mount Maunganui teammate Andrew Newton have the 6km technical race finals tomorrow. Tolaga Bay's Regan Fairlie (Uawa Tiaki Tai) is also competing in the SUP surfing division of the championships.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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