TODAY |

Hundreds arrive at Mount Maunganui for NZ's largest surf lifesaving event

The masters have signalled the start of the National Surf Lifesaving Championships in Mount Maunganui.

Over the next four days, nearly 2000 athletes will compete, representing 50 of the 74 clubs nationwide.

One of those clubs competing today was Christchurch's Waimairi.

Mike Litten, 55, the youngest of a crew of four, says the club has been running since 1949.

He raced today and says his team has "been involved" in surf "for most of their lives".

And nearly a week on from the terror attacks he says it's taken a toll: "It’s affected everybody in different ways."

Most of the New Zealand representative Black Fins and Junior Black Fins squads will compete, along with former Olympians like Steve Ferguson and Teneale Hatton.

Chris Emmett from Surf Lifesaving New Zealand says it was important the event went ahead.

He says competition for the top spots will be fierce. "There’s a new breed, new wave, of young talent coming through."

Tomorrow, competitors, officials and supporters will line the water’s edge for two minute’s silence, showing their solidarity with the New Zealand Muslim community.

And a flotilla of IRBs will perform an in-shore flyby. 

Coverage of the Call to Prayer and two-minute silence will be broadcast live on TVNZ1 and 1Newsnow.co.nz starting at 1.25pm.

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    Over the next four days, nearly 2000 athletes will compete, representing 50 of the 74 clubs nationwide. Source: 1 NEWS