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This summer NZME is helping Surf Life Saving New Zealand to help save lives. The charity relies on the goodwill of thousands of volunteers, fundraising, grants and sponsorship to keep our beaches patrolled. Here's your chance to help raise money for new equipment and lifeguard training.

The fastest, strongest and most skilled surf lifeguards will be on show at this year's Central Regional Championships on Waimarama Beach.

Saturday's event will see 331 senior athletes from 19 clubs take part in a range of surf life saving sports, before a further 216 youngsters from 15 clubs compete in the junior event on Sunday.

The 2020 Surf Life Saving New Zealand Central Regional Championships will also feature the first round of the 2020 National Surf Boat Series with teams from across the country.

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Four female Surf Lifeguards participating at last year's Surf Life Saving New Zealand Central Regional Championships in New Plymouth. Photo / John Dent
Four female Surf Lifeguards participating at last year's Surf Life Saving New Zealand Central Regional Championships in New Plymouth. Photo / John Dent

Surf Life Saving Central Region sport manager Richard Whinham said the competition would offer spectators gripping entertainment and great displays of skill.

"They'll be in good form for the Central Regionals to ensure they're ready for the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships in March.

"There's also hot competition for the kudos of taking home a Central Regional Championships title, or claiming top club.

"The athletes are really supportive of each other so there's always a great atmosphere mixed in with some healthy competition."

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Whinham added: "Having the first round of surf boat series as part of the Central Regional Championships will certainly make for a full-on day of competition, with lots to see."

With 17,000 members of Surf Life Saving New Zealand across the country, the competition will see the vest best surf lifeguards compete in disciplines such as ski and board races, beach sprints, ironman, ironwoman and beach flag races.

Competition start at 8.30am on both days.

Westshore Surf Life Saving Club director Brian Quirke is looking forward to the event. Photo / Paul Taylor
Westshore Surf Life Saving Club director Brian Quirke is looking forward to the event. Photo / Paul Taylor

Napier's Westshore Surf Life Saving Club is one of those taking part and director Brian Quirke says they're excited.

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"We have a few teams taking part in both the senior and the junior events on the Saturday and the Sunday," he said.

"Our team this year is fairly small, which just reflects the fact people are still away. But, they are all very much looking forward to it. There was a strong turnout to training last night so that's good.

Quirke added: "We all get to host this event every so often. Hopefully they'll do okay down at Waimarama."

Three Surf Lifeguards participating at last year's Surf Life Saving New Zealand Central Regional Championships. Photo / John Dent
Three Surf Lifeguards participating at last year's Surf Life Saving New Zealand Central Regional Championships. Photo / John Dent

While Westshore Beach surf lifeguards have conducted eight rescue assists so far this year, Quirke puts a lull in levels of beachgoers down to lacklustre weather.

"We've done a few assists recently and there have been one or two major first aids and half a dozen minor ones," he said. "But, there haven't been any rescues as such."

"Beach numbers have been down though. It's pretty quiet because the weather has been pretty rubbish. We've had the odd big day because of the odd hot day, but it's not really warmed up at all this year yet."

Quirke added: "The guys have been kept reasonably busy, but not as busy as years gone by - that is the factor of the recent weather.

"A lot of very windy days, which are not very pleasant on our beach."