Surf club loses a legend to Australia

By Kiri Gillespie

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Papamoa surf lifesaving powerhouse Kurt Wilson is leaving the Bay to pursue a dream job in the sport's mecca: Australia's Gold Coast.

Mr Wilson will leave his role as club coach to become director of surf sports at Currumbin Vikings Surf Lifesaving Club.

Mr Wilson has helped grow the Papamoa club.

Earlier this month club members Natalie Peat, Kodi Harman and Ben Johnston were named 2014 Bay of Plenty & Coromandel Awards of Excellence for Sportsperson of the Year.

Last year Peat won three awards for the under-19, open and international sportswoman category.

"I've coached them since they were 10 to 11 years old. Now they are 19 to 20 years old."

The club members had grown into outstanding young people who made a real difference in their community.

"That's probably the thing I love the most - that positive influence you have on all walks of life," he said.

"It's easy to coach one way or another but to be any good you've got to develop that whole person, not just the sport."

Mr Wilson will fly to Australia next month to make a start on his new role but will return shortly after as he will continue to lead the Papamoa club to the Eastern Region, Australian and NZ National Pool Championships. He also plans to coach the Papamoa team to the World Championships in France in September.

"I'm going to be on a plane a lot over the next three months," he said.

Mr Wilson's last official day as coach will be on September 29.

"It's been a really nice journey," he said.

He said plenty of clubs had attempted to lure him across the Tasman but he chose the Currumbin Vikings because it shared the same family values as Papamoa.

"You get some clubs that focus a bit more on the money side of things but that's not a path for me right now."

Mr Wilson said he had mixed emotions about leaving but was looking forward to getting started in Australia.

"It's the mecca for surf lifesaving. Their membership is absolutely huge compared with New Zealand. But saying that, the athletes at Papamoa, they are all New Zealand and Australasian champions," he said.

"Hopefully there's a nice synergy between the clubs.

"We've got six people in elite teams and squads and there's a natural progression for some of them to come across to Australia."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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