Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Mount Maunganui lifeguards win seventh straight Eastern Region title

Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service won their seventh consecutive Eastern Region Championships with a commanding performance at Mount Main Beach over the weekend.

With several top level athletes on their team including junior world lifesaving champion-Black Fins and Olympian Lisa Carrington, Mount Maunganui finished on 202 points, 114 ahead of Waikanae with Piha third.

Mt Maunganui head coach John "Spindles" Bryant said he was always surprised by what his athletes were capable of.

"They are capable of doing so much these guys. They have some sort of charisma with them where they just live for each other and support each other really well. That all shows in the results," Bryant said.

"Our mantra is fitter, faster, skilled lifeguards save lives. That is the daily training environment we try to create here, and we think that the success of that is reflected in the results with us taking out the Eastern Region Champs for the seventh year in a row."

Organisers trialled a new format to cut the event down from three days to two, highlighted by a 12-hour session on Saturday, with the twilight session proving popular with spectators.

"It went well but the new format has a few flaws which they will iron out over the years and it will get better and better," Bryant said.

"They showed they can damn near run a full programme over two days with 800 lifeguards so in that case it was a success."

One of the toughest events on the schedule, the taplin relay, was won in the open men's division by champions Mount Maunganui followed by Piha and another Mt Maunganui team third.

Mount Maunganui took top honours again in the open women's taplin, followed by Omanu in second and another Mount Maunganui team third.

START GUN: Some of the 800 surf lifeguards in action at the Eastern Region Championships. PHOTO:ANDREW WARNER
START GUN: Some of the 800 surf lifeguards in action at the Eastern Region Championships. PHOTO:ANDREW WARNER

Surf Life Saving New Zealand Eastern Region sport manager Mark Inglis was happy with how the event went and commended all the athletes who took part.

"A huge congratulations to Mt Maunganui for such an impressive performance this weekend, and of course, congratulations to all of the athletes who did an awesome job out there," Inglis said.

"Everyone, from athletes to volunteers, to officials and spectators allowed us to have such a fun and safe event so we have to thank them for their input. Overall, it was another hugely successful weekend for the Eastern Region Championships. Tauranga really turned it on and we're thankful for the local support, because we really enjoy running events here in the Bay of Plenty and showing the region off to the rest of the country."

Weather and surf conditions were almost perfect yesterday, with air temperatures reaching 24C and a small swell of less than 1m. The next major event on the calendar is the North Island Surf Boat Championships at Waihi Beach next weekend with the New Zealand National Surf Life Saving Championships in Christchurch on March a16-19.

Eastern Region Championships

Mt Maunganui Lifeguard Service 202
Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club 88
Piha Surf Life Saving Club 72
Orewa Surf Life Saving Club 52
Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club 50

- Bay of Plenty Times

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