Surf lifesaving: Volunteers who make it all tick

The athletes competing at the National Surf Lifesaving Championships under way at the Mount Main Beach will rightly get all the attention.

But working behind the scenes is a group of passionate volunteers who are the lifeblood of every surf carnival.

The 50 officials spend up to 12 hours each day under the hot sun, ensuring the smooth running of the massive event that has attracted nearly 1700 competitors from all over New Zealand.

Western Bay District Council dog ranger Craig Lacy has taken more leave from his job to help out after an intensive four days working at the Oceans 13 under-14 nationals held at Mount Maunganui just a week ago.

He helps with marshalling competitors to the start line on time, starting beach and surf races, and the almost endless tasks an event of this magnitude produces.

"It is pretty full-on for sure but I just love it, especially helping with the younger age groups," said Lacy.

"At the Oceans for four days we were on the beach at 7am and were getting off at 6pm.

"My wife Megan does the admin stuff and is on the board here at Mount Maunganui, my younger daughter Georgia has just turned 12 and she does the running of results and food around, and gets the medals ready for presentation. My eldest girl Jess will be competing this weekend but last week she helped coach the under-14s."

One recent change Lacy likes is a greater emphasis on safety after the tragic drowning of a young surf lifesaver in Australia last summer.

All competitors must now wear brightly coloured vests.

"It is a step forward and we are getting more and more health and safety conscious on the beach. On the start line before going in the water, we are always counting competitors out and counting them in."

The National Surf Lifesaving Championships continue all day today from 8am and will conclude on Sunday afternoon.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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