Beach sprinter Wesley Akeripa was the toast of the Hawke's Bay contingent at the national surf lifesaving championships which ended in Gisborne on Sunday.
The 17-year-old Ocean Beach Kiwi athlete retained his national under-19 beach sprint title with what coach Greg Larsen described as "a magnificent dip on the line". It's the fourth consecutive year an OBK sprinter has won this title; Ben Lewis won it in 2017 and 2018.
"It was a pretty good feeling as that title was the goal I set before travelling to Gisborne," Akeripa said.
He agreed he couldn't have asked for a better summer as he had earlier won the Eastern Region, Central Region and Hawke's Bay titles in the same age group. With one more year in the same age group Akeripa will aim for a three-peat at next year's Ohope-hosted nationals.
Akeripa was hoping to help his club's under-19 boys beach relay team win a fourth consecutive title and OBK was leading the relay until a dropped baton on the final leg resulted in a fifth placing.
With his beach sprinting season complete Akeripa's sporting focus will turn to his second season as a Napier Boys' High School first XV rugby winger. Next year he hopes to work in the sports industry.
Akeripa's gold was one of nine won by OBK competitors at the nationals. The club's under-16 boys beach relay team retained their title.
Two of last year's winners, Corban Watson and Llewellyn Ward-Leikis were joined by Angus Dew and Brandon Shadbolt and they had a convincing win. OBK has been undefeated in this age group for four seasons.
Watson also captured silver in his under-16 boys beach sprint final.
The club's under-19 men's short course canoe race crew of Jamie Nichols, Lars Benson, Jonty Ebbett-Watt and Luke Kay retained their title. These lads have swimming and paddling backgrounds which suited the endurance event and with their comfortable win proved why they have been unbeaten during the past two seasons.
Akeripa's mother Emma won golds in her 35-39 years beach sprint and beach flags events during the masters section of the champs. Coach Larse, emulated her feats in his 65-69 years age group.
It was his 28th national beach sprint title and 21st beach flags title. Michelle Fritchley captured gold in her 40-44 years age group surf race.
Fritchley and Emma Akeripa combined with Helen Jackson and Charmaine Soanes to win gold in the women's 160 years age group beach relay.
Five silvers were won by the club. Cleo Roderick, Grace Akeripa, Elle Lovatt and Monique Poa secured silver in the under-16 girls beach relay.
"This was an awesome performance from a team of first-year sprinting lifeguards," coach Larsen said.
Roderick and Grace Akeripa, a sister of Wesley, combined with Jess Tucker and Olivia Kirkpatrick to finish second to a strong Waikanae team in the under-19 girls beach relay.
Rebecca Wright captured silver in her 35-39 years age group surf race.
Cameron Broad, Bruce Bates, Adrian Barclay, Dave Kruger and Jared Fritchley won silver in their men's 200 years age group boat race.
OBK's Reece Akuhata and Westshore's Hannah Cotter won bronze medals in their respective under-19 boys and girls beach flags events. Akuhata was the defending champion in his event but didn't have the same level of preparation as last year because of work and university commitments.
OBK's open men's long course canoe race crew of William Wilkins, Andrew Callinicos, Greg Ross and Kieran Kruger travelled home with bronze medals. Larsen, former All Whites footballer Marty Akers, Lenny Kay and Ross Dyer also won bronze in their 200 years age group beach relay.
Ocean Beach Kiwi did the best of the Hawke's Bay clubs and finished 14th with 23 points. Westshore were 33rd with two points. Mount Maunganui was the top club with 163 points.