Hot Water Beach Surf Life Saving Club had its first ever Under 14 Bay of Plenty representative in the National Provincial Championship held at the Mount beach recently. Paul Clout was part of a 10 member squad competing against 6 representative sides from around the country.
Paul Clout (left) competing in flags
Individually he competed in the Beach Sprint and Beach Flag events placing second in both. He then combined with his team mates in the Beach Relay in which the Bay placed second and NPC Relay which they won. Chosen as a specialist sprinter Paul’s role was vital. “In the Beach Relay I was the first runner so I needed to get our team a good start.”
Winning the NPC relay demonstrated the teams overall strength involving all members either running, boarding, swimming or rescuing in a relay format. “Paul played a key role in the NPC” said sprint coach Danielle Shepherd. He had what we call the “Gut Buster” running 400m in the soft sand”
A late developer, according to his mother, this year he’s grown so much and has gained so much confidence competing at this level. “He was a real find for us”, said team coach Grant Muru, and exceeding all expectations. He should be very proud of his achievement and if he continues to improve will do well in the future.
The Bay of Plenty is seen as one of the strongest districts for competitive surf life saving with over 500 athletes from ages 10– 14years so to be selected in a Bay team is quite prestigious. The team had representatives from six clubs Whakatane, Mount, Omanu, Whangamata, Papamoa and Hot Water Beach.
The bar is set pretty high for the “Bay” in these competitions, with a history of very successful teams. Last year they won the U14, U16 ,U19 and placed 3rd in the Open division. “There was a bit of pressure” said Grant Muru “but we decided to use this as a positive thing, “ Unfortunately the team wasn’t able to match last years result, finishing second by 2 points to Auckland. “ Our aim was to win and we looked pretty strong across the competition but a few small errors let us down and at this level that can often be the difference.”
The event was part of New Zealand Surf Life Saving’s ”Festival of Surf” which also had a 3 Test International Series with teams from Canada, Japan, New Zealand and eventual winners Australia. Grant Muru said “It was a privilege to work with such talented athletes and Paul was no exception. He did his clubs and province proud”. Team members will return to their clubs and continue to prepare for the Junior Nationals “Ocean Athletes” competition held at the end of February on the Mount beach
BOP U14 Surf Coach