By JAMIE TROUGHTON
REBECCA Lockwood's surf skills and the sheer pace of Chelsea Maples proved the perfect combination for Mount Maunganui at the NZCT Surf Life Saving championships in Ohope yesterday.
But it was a less than perfect start for the club overall, as the defending championships showed they'll need to dig deep over the weekend to retain the Allan Gardner Trophy.
Maples and Lockwood got things off to a great start with a dramatic win in the open women's board rescue, slipping onto a fluky wave and climbing four places to snatch victory on the line.
Maples virtually pulled Lockwood up the beach as they beat the despairing dive of Westshore duo Nikki Cox and Chantelle Cowlrick by inches.
"We were actually a bit gutted, because we thought we'd got the dud end of the arena," Lockwood said. "The drift down that end hasn't been so strong, but luckily a wave popped up just in front of us and then Chelsea was able to drag us up the beach."
Maples has her favoured beach sprint event today, and also showed she'll be tough to overhaul in the board race.
"We just put our heads down and went for it," the teenager said.
Maples was responsible for all Mount's points on the first day, as she also collected the under-19 flags title to help her club into fifth on the overall standings.
Red Beach have taken a healthy lead after the first day's competition, collecting 22 points.
Papamoa's under-16 boys beach flags heroics helped them into sixth equal, with James Banhidi, Hayden Clavis and Jordan Hills completing an outstanding clean sweep.
Morgan Foster's tilt at a record 10th national flags title will have to wait another year, however, after the Hamilton firefighter lost an absorbing final to defending champion Paul Cracroft-Wilson, but the 32-year-old - who won his first flags title in 1995 - rejected any ideas of retirement.
"I'll be back tomorrow for the sprints and I'll be back next year as well," Foster said. "I got a pretty good start, but got a bit excited in my first stride.
" I put too much power into it and it was a bit like ice skating. Paul got his shoulder in front and it was all over."
Elsewhere, the South Brighton long-course canoe crew will face an overnight protest after they competed in the final using ski paddles. Though not technically against the rules, competing crews protested under a 'Fair Play' charter in effect for the championship.
The South Brighton crew featured eight-time national ski champion, 42-year-old, John Crighton, who turned back the clock by making Sunday's final.
Points after day one: Red Beach 22, Fitzroy 13, Westshore 12, Midway 11, Mt Maunganui 8, Lyall Bay 8, Mairangi Bay 7, Papamoa 6, Waikanae 6, Wainui 4, Titahi Bay 3, Whakatane 3, Waikuku 3, South Brighton 2, Waimairi 2, New Plymouth 2, Pacific 2, Orewa 1, Ocean Beach Kiwi 1.
Yesterday's results: Open men: Board rescue: Red Beach (Alistair Maney/Chris Moors) 1, Mairangi Bay (Kevin Morrison/Michael Buck) 2, Midway (Matthew Sutton/Michael Janes) 3. Beach flags: Paul Cracroft-Wilson (Fitzroy) 1, Morgan Foster (South Brighton) 2, Daniel Harris (Waikanae) 3.
Open women: Board rescue: Mt Maunganui (Rebecca Lockwood/Chelsea Maples) 1, Westshore (Chantelle Cowlrick/Nikki Cox) 2, Red Beach (Lauren Johnson/Jane Moors) 3. Beach flags: Katie Watts (Fitzroy) 1, Chanel Hickman (New Plymouth Old Boys) 2, Rebecca Wright (Midway) 3. Long course canoe: Wainui (Christine Andrew/Jane Goodman/Moira Lee/Rachael Williams) 1, Mairangi Bay (Rachael Dodwell/Katie Pocock/Stephanie Parker/Tracy Wilson) 2, Fitzroy (Emma Crofsky/Pamela Kane/Leigh Laurence/Lauren Roberts) 3.
Under-19 men: Board rescue: Red Beach (Sam Cosgrove/Alistair Maney) 1. Titahi Bay (Danny and Will McDowell) 2, Mairangi Bay (Bjorn Battaerd/Michael Lee) 3. Beach flags: James Longden (Wales) 1, Duncan Pearce (Midway) 2, Ashlee Kelly (Fitzroy) 3. Long course canoe: Waikanae (David Creswell/Darryl Fitzgerald/Thomas Garrett/Thomas Yule) 1, Lyall Bay (Sam Argue/Aaron Boslem/Peter Gubb/Alex Mulcahy) 2, Waimairi (Thomas Claude/Joshua Edmonds/Roberts George/Perrin Richardson) 3.
Under-19 women: Board rescue: Red Beach (Catlin Ryan/Keziah George) 1, Westshore (Larissa Cowlrick/Lydia Diver) 2, Orewa (Georgia Butt/Laura Leeson) 3. Beach flags: Chelsea Maples (Mt Maunganui) 1, Simone Baarspul (Pacific) 2, Lucy Potter (Whakatane) 3. Long Course Canoe: Lyall Bay (Katie Robertson/Michelle Arnopp/Juliette Dowland/Kirsty Turner) 1, Wainui (Sophie Peters/Danica Robinson/Lucy Suttor/Elaine Van Den Worm) 2, Waimairi (Tara Smith/Brooke Hand/Rebecca Hamblin/Michelle Hendrie) 3.
Under-16 men: Board rescue: Red Beach (Dylan French/Jared Pouwhare) 1, Westshore (Benjamin Gillies/Samuel Riddell) 2, Midway (Kamen Geiseler/Cory Taylor) 3. Beach flags: James Banhidi (Papamoa) 1, Hayden Clavis (Papamoa) 2, Jordan Hills (Papamoa) 3. Under-16 women: Board rescue: Midway (Lucy Gavin/Demi Moleta) 1, Westshore (Megan Beattie/Katie Moodie) 2, Red Beach (Georgia Lloyd/Catlin Ryan) 3. Beach flags: Pania Watson (Waikuku) 1, Madison Brown (Whakatane) 2, Rosa Antunovic (East End) 3.