15 December 2016
Mermaid’s coach is former Mount local and professional ironman Mike Janes, who is bringing a handful of elite surf athletes to take on New Zealand’s best.
“We're real pumped to come over - I've been trying to get it organised since I first took over at Mermaid but the timing had always clashed,” Janes explained. “This year, she’s all on.”
The Monster starts and finishes on Mount Maunganui's Main Beach, with a 5km beach run, a spectacular swim leg which includes a jump off Moturiki Island's blowhole, a 12km ski leg to Omanu and a 6km board paddle.
Mermaid Beach ironmen James Lacy and Luke Cuff (pictured) will be chasing individual glory, while the Kiwi challenge will be led by Midway’s Cory Taylor, defending champion Ben Cochrane (Omanu) and recently-crowned world paddle board champion Sam Shergold (Mount Maunganui), who was third last year. Taylor, the 2013 champion, is competing against Lacy and Cuff on the Nutri-Grain Ironman series in Australia, with Lacy currently sixth in the overall standings, having finished second and fifth in the last two rounds, Taylor up to 11th and Cuff in 17th.
Janes said the trip back to his old stomping ground was a great break from the hectic Australian scene.
"The season in Aussie is so much longer and we’ve been going hard since June, so this trip is about getting outside the comfort zones. We’re treating it like an intense training camp and race in the pre-Christmas break, as most guys switch off a little bit during the festive season. It will be great to give the boys a little more long racing, especially coming off the Torquay round which has an endure-style race.”
Tomorrow’s women’s field features the return of inaugural winner and ironwoman star Danielle McKenzie, who also has a gap in her schedule on the Summer of Surf series in Australia. She’ll try and dethrone two-time champion Kirsty Wannan, while a large field of under-19 females will be snapping at their heels.
The individual race, which also has French and Great British national team members in it, had attracted nearly 100 entries earlier this week, with another 219 surf athletes taking part in the teams race.
Notable teams include the Sassy Tsunamis, with triple surf lifesaving world champion Laura Quilter roping in Olympic K4 kayaker Kayla Imrie and top ironwoman Natalie Peat, while previous Olympic kayakers Teneale Hatton (team) and Mike Walker (individual) will also compete.
The Monster also features a unique prizemoney split, with $1000 going to the first open male and open female and a "Monster Pot" - awarded to first overall in the male, female and teams - based on the number of entries in each division.