Talk hot property on the Hawke's Bay surf lifesaving scene and it doesn't take long for Jonty Laver's name to pop up.
Waimarama's Laver, 18, enhanced that tag at last month's Central Regional championships hosted by his club when he won the under-19 board, ski and ironman titles.
"It was a great day for everyone," Laver recalled, referring to the fact his club finished second on the overall standings to New Plymouth's East End, Waimarama's best placing in the history of the champs.
The former Napier Boys' High School student, who will start a four-year environmental planning degree at Waikato University later this month, will aim for similar success when Waimarama hosts the Hawke's Bay championships today and tomorrow.
"I want to win all of my under-19 races as well as the open ironman," Laver said.
He will tackle the under-19 and open ironman, ski, board and swim events. The veteran of 11 years as a surf lifesaver, Laver, is the defending champion in several of his under-19 events as well as the open board race. Last year he also finished third in the open ironman.
"It's going to be two big days. We get plenty of rest between under-19 and open events which helps ... this is what we've been building up to during the summer," Laver explained.
His performances this weekend will also give him a gauge about the work-ons required in the countdown to the March 12-15 national championships at Gisborne's Midway Beach where he is eyeing a podium finish in the under-19 ski final and a berth in the ironman final for the same age group.
It's no secret Laver's surf lifesaving pursuits have benefitted from his kayaking feats during the winter. Last year he won the ski section of Canoe Racing New Zealand's Kayak Krazy Winter Series as well as the ski component of the national long distance championships.
Next weekend he will compete at the Lake Karapiro-hosted national kayaking championships.
"I would like to represent New Zealand in kayaking in the future and that's one of the reasons I'm going to Waikato University ... so I can be close to the Cambridge training base," Laver said.
During the summer holidays he has been able to train twice a day for surf lifesaving while working for his father James at his Laver & Wood cricket bat making business.
Clubmate Bella Bassett-Foss is also expected to perform well after winning the open ski and ironman titles at the Central Region championships. She also finished third in the surf race and fourth in the board race.
"It's all about club points this weekend and getting as much as we can. I'll compete in as many events as possible and I'll also be looking at things I need to improve on before the nationals," Bassett-Foss said.
Now in her seventh year of surf lifesaving, Bassett-Foss, 20, hopes to make the final of the open ironman and ski events in Gisborne.
A third-year engineering student at university in Christchurch, Bassett-Foss is aware her Waimarama club has the best chance of stopping Westshore from winning a 17th consecutive top club title this weekend. But she isn't counting her chickens.
"A lot will depend on the weather conditions and who turns up," she added.
There will be plenty of interest in the form of promising Westshore athlete Rachel Klem.
She won the under-16 ironwoman title and finished third in the ski race at the Central Region championships.
Klem made the finals of both events at the Mount Maunganui-hosted Eastern Regional championships last weekend. She is reaping the benefits of putting in the necessary pre-season work in the pool and on the river.
Ocean Beach Kiwi's Jamie Nichols will be all out to make the most of his final year as an under-19 competitor. He will tackle the ironman and board race individual events in Gisborne.
"Training under coach Andrew Callinicos has been a pleasure as he pushes us while understanding our individual strengths and weaknesses," Nichols said.
At last year's national championships Nichols was a member of his club's long course canoe race team which won gold.
"This year we hope to defend that title if time allows us between our individual events," Nichols added.