The Northern Region took provincial honours at the inaugural New Zealand Representative Challenges at Mount Maunganui on Monday, winning both the open and youth divisions as well as the Surf Boat challenge.
The region, whose athletes represent their 17 clubs from Raglan to the Far North, finished on 163 points in the open division, just 11.5 points ahead of the Bay of Plenty (151.5) with Gisborne taking third place on 122 points.
Some of the key wins came in the mixed ski relay, male beach sprint, female beach sprint, female board rescue, male beach relay, male ski race and female ski race.
Bay of Plenty put up a good fight, winning six of the 23 events including the male surf race, board race, board rescue and ocean man, along with the female tube rescue and beach relay.
Northern also took out the youth division, finishing on 156.5 points, once again edging out the Bay of Plenty (153 points) in second with Taranaki in third with 123.5 points. Gisborne (96.5), Wellington (86.5), Hawke's Bay (74.5), Canterbury (70.5) and Otago (56) rounded out the remaining spots.
Running parallel to the Representative Challenge was the Representative Surf Boat Challenge which also saw Northern Region claim championship honours. They finished on 84 points, six points clear of Eastern Region (78 points) with the Central Region in third on 68 points.
The Northern Region's women's crews dominated the long course, taking wins in the Under-19, Under-23 and Open divisions while the Under-19 and Open men took the short course titles.
The Eastern Region fought hard with the men's crews dominating the long course to take out all three divisions with the Under 23 men also taking out the short course. Finishing off on a high, the men won the regional relay race.
It was the Central Region women who dominated the short course overall with the Under-19, Under-23 and Open crews take the win before winning the female regional relay.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand sport manager Mike Lord said it had been several years since Surf Life Saving ran a provincial competition like this.
"Today's challenges were about reinstating a high performance event that offers athletes a shot at national representation at the pinnacle event- the World Lifesaving Championships. We got to see some really high level racing as around 240 athletes tested themselves against the best of the best. Athletes are always proud to represent their club but representing your region adds another level of responsibility and they gave it their all," Lord said. "We look forward to seeing this event grow in the coming years."