New Zealand’s best surf lifesaving athletes will compete in this year’s TSB New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Championships on Christchurch’s New Brighton beach from Thursday, 9 March, to Sunday, 12 March.
Known as the TSB Nationals, this event celebrates the best of the Surf Life Saving movement and is the pinnacle Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) sports event for Surf Lifeguards.
Tanya Hamilton, SLSNZ’s High Performance Manager, says: “The TSB Nationals is one of the key selection events for the SLSNZ High Performance Squad that will be announced after the Australian Championships in a few weeks.
“Our top high-performance athletes, many of whom compete professionally in Australia, are returning for the TSB Nationals to help ensure they are selected for the squad that will provide New Zealand Teams this year and through to the Lifesaving World Championships 2024, where the Black Fins compete. The support of High Performance Sport New Zealand is invaluable as we build towards this pinnacle event."
High-performance New Zealand athletes returning for the New Brighton event include Cory Taylor and Olivia Corrin representing Gisborne’s Midway Surf Life Saving Club; Danielle McKenzie representing North Shore‘s Mairangi Bay Club, and Joe Collins representing New Plymouth’s Fitzroy Club.
Youth athletes stepping up include Zoe Crawford and Lachie Falloon, the Junior Black Fins Captains from the 2022 World Lifesaving Championships held in Riccione, Italy.
Paralympic kayaker Scott Martlew who competed at the Summer Paralympic Games, in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, will also compete using a modified surf ski.
Tanya Hamilton says, “Danielle McKenzie is a serious legend of the sport. Originally from Auckland’s North Shore, Danielle won her first national title when, aged 15, she won the Under-16 ski race at Gisborne's Midway Beach and hasn't looked back.”
Now based in Australia, she was 3rd overall in the Nutri-Grain Iron Series 2022/23, 2nd in the 2022 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships and has won a bucket of other ski races and surf lifesaving competitions, including gold at ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships in 2019.
Cory Taylor is another Gold Coast-based New Zealander returning for the TSB Nationals. Proudly representing NZ, Cory was World Ironman Champion at the 2022 World Lifesaving Championships and received a wildcard entry to the Nutri-Grain Series.
“Mt Maunganui, the current holders of the Alan Gardner Trophy, go into the event as Champion Club, and Omanu Beach Surf Life Saving Club are the defending Masters’ Champion Club, champion club trophies are awarded to the clubs whose athletes score the most points throughout the TSB Nationals events,” Tanya Hamilton said.
Lewis McClintock, SLSNZ’s National Sports Manager, says: “The iconic four-day SLSNZ event returns to the calendar in 2023 after being cancelled in 2021 and 2022 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The TSB Nationals were last held on New Brighton beach in 2017, and it’s great to be back in Christchurch.
"The TSB Nationals cater to all levels of participation and almost all aspects of Surf Life Saving and will see athletes participate in various disciplines: canoes, surf boats, surf swimming, beach sprints, surf skis and boards, competing to become the next National Champion.”
Thursday morning sees the Masters division, for members aged over 30, take centre stage until the Under 15, Under 17 and 19, and Open age groups begin in the afternoon.
All competitors are current members of one of the 74 Surf Life Saving Clubs and are qualified lifeguards.
“SLSNZ is extremely grateful to all those who have contributed to ensuring this event takes place, including naming sponsor TSB and ChristchurchNZ, for helping bring this significant event back to the region.”