For much of the last decade it was the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service that dominated the Eastern Region Championships.

But with the turn of a new decade, there could be a new champion club, with Red Beach expected to put strong pressure on the local athletes at the annual competition this weekend.

Last year Mount Maunganui, which has won 11 titles in the last 14 years, won their ninth consecutive title after the Gisborne event. While it's back on home ground this year, Surf Lifesaving New Zealand's Mark Inglis says there seems to be one club in particular that could knock the locals off their perch.

"Mount Maunganui have given it a good nudge and they've taken it out [nine] years in a row so far, but I think Red Beach are really going to push them this year," Inglis says.


"[Red Beach] had a 12-year title streak back in 1987 onwards so yeah, she's going to be an interesting race this weekend."

Up to 900 athletes from 36 clubs will compete in the Eastern Region surf lifesaving championships at Mount Maunganui on Saturday and Sunday, with the weather and surf conditions looking good for the weekend. According to MetService, weekend temperatures could reach up to 30 degrees and a 1m swell is predicted for Saturday.

The Eastern Region surf lifesaving championships is traditionally the second-biggest carnival on the surf lifesaving calendar, behind only the national championship.

The carnival also doubles as the second round of the New Zealand surf boat series, with 35 boat crews competing at Grove Ave, further down the Mount Maunganui coastline.

"On Main Beach and the individuals and teams events we've got roughly about 600, 650 [athletes] and in the boats, we've got 35 boat crews so there'll be another sort of 250 down the coast around Grove Ave," Inglis says.

"We've got so big we can't all fit on the Main beach so we have to shuffle the boats and canoes a little bit down the coast but it's fairer racing down there, they've got a flatter [space] and we can provide a fairer start and finish line for them."

Red Beach has the biggest contingent coming, with 84 athletes from the North Shore club competing. Red Beach last won the title in 1999 and Inglis says the visiting club will have their ideal conditions this weekend.

"It's going to be a ding dong battle I think."


Mount Maunganui has a young squad this year but can still boast past or present national representatives Lincoln Waide, Hamish Miller, Andrew Newton and Declan Dempster.

Four-time New Zealand Ironman champion Max Beattie has recovered from injury and will headline the Ōmanu squad, alongside two-time national ironwoman champion Devon Halligan, while Mairangi Bay's 51-strong squad includes the likes of rising talent Star Teaukura, board specialist Paul Van Achterbergh and veteran Travis Mitchell, who took a clean sweep of the ski titles at last year's ERCs at age 36, 23 years after first competing at the carnival.

Red Beach coach Jack Gavin said his squad had suffered a couple of late injuries but they were still looking forward to a successful weekend.

"Over the past three seasons, we've made retention a real focus and focused on making the club an awesome place to be around and it's meant that we now have a good open men's contingent for the first time in five or six seasons. That's had a real flow-on effect for the rest of the squad, as the young ones coming through have some experienced role models to look up to and chase."

Lyall Bay, Pāpāmoa and Orewa also have big contingents, while Foxton has one representative - Haylee Cudby, competing in the under-16 division, while Opunake, Omaha and Sumner also have small squads.

There's also four South Island clubs competing, including four athletes - Emma Christophers, Jade Fairweather, Isaac Robertson and Samuel Stedman - competing for Dunedin's St Clair.

Action gets underway at 8am on both days.