"Right at the start my wetsuit ripped so I had to go non-wetty in the first round. I nearly drowned in the first swim, I got absolutely smashed by a wave out back and was under the water for about 30 seconds - I was freaking out, I didn't know what way was up but finally found the surface and carried on."
It was a less than ideal start to the Surfbreaker Triathlon for Whakatāne's Hayden Wilde today. Luckily, he does not panic easily.
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He bounced back from his dramatic start to race to victory in the six-leg sprint triathlon held at Mount Maunganui's main beach. It is his second consecutive Surfbreaker title.
"It's pretty special racing at the place I train and not too far from my home town Whakatāne. Having the family here and the people who have supported me for the last three years, it's fantastic to come back and defend the title."
Wilde finished the race in 1h 18s, ahead of Gisborne's Josiah Ney (1h 1m 22s) and Taupō's Kyle Smith (1h 2m 11s).
"It was probably about the same amount of competition [as last year]. After the first swim I was about 30 seconds back but went hard on the bike and ran through and had to get a gap on the boys.
"That second lap in the water, we all felt like we weren't moving anywhere but we finally got through that break and started getting a move on. I got back on the bike with about a minute lead and just carried on from there."
He said the win was the perfect way to end what has been a busy year.
"It's been a big season and I'm just lucky my body lets me race this many races. If you can do this many races and do it while training, that's the main thing. I really enjoy racing so much and it's lovely to come home and race."
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Meanwhile, in the women's elite race, it was Cambridge triathlete Sophie Corbidge who claimed victory in her third attempt.
"I've raced Surfbreaker for three years now and to finally be on the top step is pretty special. The conditions today were quite extreme, I've never swum anything like that before and if you get a wave you're at such an advantage - you can make up minutes.
"I felt really good on the bike and this is the first time that I've actually run off the bike well for awhile so I'm really happy to take the win.
"There's a really solid group of girls that we train with in Cambridge and most of them were out here today. It's nice to be able to bring your friends over and have a good hit out. We're always pushing each other at training and it's a little bit of whoever wins on the day," Corbidge said.
Corbidge finished in 1h 9m, Eva Goodisson was the second women home in 1h 9m 11s and Hannah Knighton was third in 1h 10m 9s.
Surfbreaker Triathlon Elite Results
1st Hayden Wilde (1h 18s), 2nd Josiah Ney (1h 1m 22s), 3rd Kyle Smith (1h 2m 11s).
Women: 1st Sophie Corbidge (1h 9m), 2nd Eva Goodisson (1h 9m 11s), 3rd Hannah Knighton (1h 10m 9s).