After more than 80km of high-octane IRB racing, Saturday’s Bay of Plenty Epic Long Haul race came down to cereal consumption, brute strength and a sprint up the beach.
The Red Beach crew of Dan Peacocke, Jack Readman and Jared Pouwhare emerged triumphant after more than 2hrs of racing, outsprinting Muriwai’s slick trio of Katherine Reardon, David Butt and Matt Buswell.
Aided by magnificent Bay of Plenty weather and mirror-like seas, eight crews set off from Ohope Beach near Whakatane for the five-leg odyssey – sponsored by McMillan Lockwood Group – through to Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach.
With stops in Matata, Pukehina, Papamoa and Omanu, crews had to perform a number of tasks – such as assembling the IRB and engine, performing a series of simulated rescues and carrying engines along the soft sand.
Ironically, it was a Weetbix-scoffing challenge at Omanu that stymied the flying Muriwai crew, who powered through the field after getting off the beach in sixth-spot to be leading with the finish line approaching. Sloppy cereal technique saw Muriwai falter, with Red Beach seizing their chance.
“We were lucky to come from behind after engine trouble to clinch it in only the last 100m of the race,” Red Beach’s Peacocke told Dscribe Media. “We put everything on the line and full credit to the other competitors and especially Muriwai for the neck-and-neck battle!”
Peacocke has had a huge summer, competing in national championships for kayaking, surf lifesaving and IRB racing. He’s also got his eye on the world surf lifesaving championships in France in September, although his Red Beach crew are also keen to give the annual Ninety Mile Beach IRB race a nudge at the start of that month.
Muriwai finished fourth in that event last year but showed the flat-line speed yesterday to match it with anyone, while Sunset Beach – third in the BOP race – should have gun driver Shane Edwards back for the Ninety Mile event
Leigh Sefton, organiser of Saturday’s race, hoped the event will continue to grow.
“We couldn’t have had better conditions and the racing was superb,” Sefton said. “The initial feedback from the crews was extremely positive – most of them came in buzzing, raving about the spectacular coastline and the fabulous scenery and how good it was to have been involved. I’m pretty confident we can harness that enthusiasm and really give things a boost next year.”