Mount Maunganui has taken an early lead on the first full day of the 2018 Eastern Regional Championships (ERCs) underway at the Mount's Main Beach.

Following the twilight session held Friday night, the event continued from 8am Saturday with 850 athletes from around New Zealand competing. Mount Maunganui finished the day 35 points ahead of their nearest rivals. With 75 athletes who are qualified lifeguards, the Mount Maunganui team is one of the biggest but their knowledge of local surf conditions have boosted their results.

In second place is Waikanae who finished with a 13 point buffer over third placed Piha Bay ahead of the final day taking place today. Rounding out the top five in fourth is Mairangi Bay with 38 points, only one point behind Piha, with Omanu in fifth on 32 points.

Omanu has a number of top national athletes set to take part in their strongest events todayso they could be chasing down a podium.

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Event manager Mark Inglis said it had been a challenging day despite "ideal weather conditions" and added the competitors had done extremely well with the relatively big surf.

"The weather has been perfect today but the surf conditions made everything a little trickier. We had a solid swell for most of the day which really tested the athletes but they embraced it and showed us why they are the best in the region.

"(Sunday) is shaping up to be a stunner and everyone is really looking forward to it. There are a lot of clubs in contention for podium places so I'm sure it will make for some close racing with athletes pushing themselves to the limit."

The final day got underway at 7.30am today followed by the New Zealand Representative Challenge on Monday.

Eastern Region Championships — Top 5 day one
1. Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service, 87
2. Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club, 52
3. Piha Surf Life Saving Club, 39
4. Mairangi Bay Surf Life Saving Club, 38
5. Omanu Surf Life Saving Club, 32