A 16-year-old Hastings Boys' High School student and Napier Aquahawks club swimmer has won the men's open title in the Napier Port Ocean Swim off Ahuriri, Napier.
Jayden Wilson was eighth in the Blueseventy 2.5km swim in 2019, but the 2020 event was cancelled because of the Covid crisis, that12 months later, kept organisers and about 200 swimmers in suspense right into the last three days as to whether it would be called off again.
As it happened, conditions were almost perfect, with flat seas and a classic Hawke's Bay summer's morning for the feature race, twice anti-clockwise around a course about 200 metres off the Hardinge Rd beachfront, stretching from Sandy Beach to East Pier.
Wilson completed the distance in 27min 14sec, a minute and 36 seconds quicker than runner-up, women's title winner, fellow Aquahawks member and 2019 runner-up Sarah Birkett, with teenaged Waikato swimmer Ciaran Watson taking third place in 29min 33sec.
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The second female finished was Arabella Smith, of Napier, fifth overall and finishing in 29min 50sec. while Sophie Bryant, of Napier, who had won the Kids Classic Ocean Swim in 2016, was the third female, in eighth place overall and swimming 30min 20sec.
Seven of the first eight were all in the 15-19 years age group, with sixth place going to 40-49yrs competitor Adrian Rasmussen, and 10th to 50-59yrs age group swimmer Steve McKain. Nikki Lawson headed the 30-39yrs age group in 11th place, and Ian Robertson was the first aged over 60 years, in 23rd place and swimming 35min 6sec.
The times compared dramatically with the 2019, when winner Bevan Jacobs clocked 32min 34sec, Birkett 33min 36sec, and Wilson 36min 10sec.
There were 91 finishers in the race, with times up to almost 57 minutes, with Wilson partnering with fourth-placed Caleb Carlisle and seventh-placed Art Woodley-Hanan as the Higgins Harpoons to claim the teams title.
It was one of four individual races on the day, the next-longest, the Hawke's Bay Regional 1km Classic won by Jyde Low in 15min 33sec, with Tasman Stuart six seconds behind in second place and Harriet Douglas 3rd.
The 500-metres Higgins Dash was won by Ellie Meynell in 8min 2sec, with Kate Donnelly and Ella Cooke 2nd and 3rd respectively in an ell-female podium finish, and the Napier Pak' nSave Kids 200m race went to Addyson Wairama, swimming 4min 42sec. Second was Scarlett Botes, and third was first male Frank Nicholls.