When Red Beach snared the Open Taplin Relay title at this year’s NZ Championships in Gisborne, the occasion marked nine years since the club’s athletes last lifted the prestigious trophy. The previous win was in 2011 at Mt Maunganui.
Known as the blue riband event of the Nationals – the one that all clubs with Taplin teams have a burning desire to win – the closing stages of this year’s race had the adrenalin racing. In the penultimate leg, club coach Jack Gavin put in a blistering swim through the Midway surf to pull Red Beach from fourth position to the front of the chasing pack. He then tagged Patrick Makgill who swam powerfully before clinching the national title for his teammates in the final sprint to the finish line.
The Bill Griffin Memorial Trophy for the Open Men’s Taplin at the NZ Championships was donated by Paul & Tony Griffin, the sons of WV Griffin, QSM. Bill Griffin joined the Lyall Bay Surf Club in 1922 and had 67 years of continuous involvement in surf lifesaving. Bill served on SLSNZ as National President and delegate but was most recognised for his years of service as the national marshall. He was made a Life Member of Surf Life Saving New Zealand in 1950. The trophy was first contested in 1989.
Previous National Taplin Relay Winners from Red Beach
2011 at Mt Maunganui; 1997 at Mt Maunganui; 1994 at Lyall Bay, Wellington; 1992 at Oakura Beach, New Plymouth.
Article & photos by Ross Malyon.