Oceans event going to Orewa

Popular surf life saving event to move away from surf. Photo: Alana McIsaac.

The Under 14 NZ Surf Life Saving Championships, also known as the Oceans' 17, which has been held at Mount Maunganui since its inception 17 years ago, is going to Orewa next year.

The decision has been made by Surf Life Saving New Zealand as a result of a bid by the Orewa Surf Life Saving Club, says Surf Life Saving NZ sport manager Mike Lord.

It comes out of a review a couple of years ago, where members were asked what they wanted in the form of sports events, and some of the feedback was the members wanted to be able to bid for national events.

The national under 14s is a Mount Maunganui invention, originally organised and run by the Mount Club and friends.

The rights to it were later passed over the Surf Life Saving NZ for a national sum, according to local club members.

Mike Lord doesn't remember when, but says the Oceans' 17 was a later addition to the list of national events.

Orewa put in a bid for the event to be held there next year.

Pluses for Orewa are that it doesn't have big waves, which means they can run a good programme, says Mike.

There's less likelihood of water events having to be switched to Pilot Bay or Shark Alley.

“Over the last 17 years, probably 60-70 per cent of that time we haven't been able to run to the programme. We've had to switch venues at the Mount, so there's always been those sort of issues that we get at the Mount.

“Mount Maunganui is a fantastic venue on a good day, but it also has its challenges," says Mike.

“We will give Orewa the opportunity. They presented a really good case with regards to hosting it. That opportunity is for one year.

“There is no commitment there, we are going through the next round of bidding currently.”

Bidding is not on price, says Mike. It's pretty much an expression of interest from a club, and what they can bring to the table and the support they can offer.

Orewa is seen as a good venue for the under 14s age group.

The bid process involves SLSNZ looking at the venue and available accommodation for the estimated 2000 competitors, parents and supporters - within a half hour's driving time of the venue.

“We're not talking five minutes like the Mount, but we're looking at options like that for the rest of our carnivals.”

It is no different for Whakatane or Gisborne for a national event, says Mike.

“People will have to travel. Hopefully we can run a really sound programme and have a really good event up there.

“Now of course there's going to be ill feeling from clubs because it's a massive change after 17 years. But it will be one year and we will review it, and see how it goes.

“We are looking for it to definitely be back in the Mount at some stage.”

New Plymouth's Fitzroy Club senior coach Ron Cole is disappointed with the change of venue.

Fitzroy is also a surf beach. The travel is not a major issue. Fitzroy stays at Papamoa when competing at the Oceans event.

“We come from a surf beach, we would prefer some sort of surf,” says Ron.

“I know our kids always enjoy a bit of surf. I know they're pretty disappointed that it's getting shifted.

“I think a number of clubs didn't like the shore break at Mount Maunganui and I think one year they had bad surf there.

“And if you go to a surf beach you are going to get that every now and then. I think there was complaints about the fact that it was pretty tough on the young kids, so they asked for a beach more suitable, and they got Orewa.”

Some of the Fitzroy parents bring their children over at Christmas, so the kids can practice on the beach ahead of the competitions.

“There're different conditions to the beach we train on."

Surf too big for smaller competitors has been an issue at the Mount Main Beach from time to time.

“It has been an issue, what Mike Lord says is correct, it has been disruptive, but it's been an easy shift to Pilot Bay.”

The benefit of Pilot Bay as an alternate venue is the competitors can pick up their boards and walk.

“In New Plymouth you would load the boards then drive - not a big drive only 30 min drive - by the time you do that it takes some time," says Ron.

“I guess at Mount Maunganui the benefit is you can shift to Pilot Bay very quickly. The best of both worlds, the ability to run it in surf, and also the ability to shift to Pilot Bay at very short notice.”

The quick shift also means the event programme continues, and water events aren't cancelled because of sea conditions.

It is one of the criteria for under 14 nationals' venues, says Ron. There has to be a back-up beach, and few clubs have them with a surf and non-surf venue like the Mount.



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