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Surf Life Saving's `Ultimate Test Of Endurance'



Wellington (Friday, November 19, 1999) - The ultimate endurance test for the nation's surf lifeguards has proven to be popular on the air waves - the TV2 sports special has been nominated for the Best Sports Programme in the 1999 New Zealand Television Awards to be announced here tomorrow night.

Judges have short-listed the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Surf League programme, shot over two days of intense competition in boisterous surf at Main Beach, Mount Maunganui, last February, along with the programmes Tight Five and the Rugby Club.

Producer Chris Gurr describes the surf league production as "one of the best sports dramas yet".

"The Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Surf League is a truly gruelling event for lifeguards and our camera crew alike. It takes a special crew to capture the extreme images you see in this programme," he said. "We are delighted to have made it through to the final selection."

Supported by Kellogg's Nutri-Grain for the past eight years, the surf league event is billed each summer as Surf Life Saving New Zealand's hottest competition.

"Everyone has to be highly skilled and totally comfortable operating the cameras in the surf, which can be pretty wild. We field a 30-person crew with cameras on the water in the inflatable rescue vehicles, in the surf with the lifeguards, on the beach and in helicopters above the action," said Mr Gurr.

He said he was especially pleased the production had reached the finals in New Zealand's top sports award because it was "high time" lifeguards were honoured.

"They are not highly paid super-hero sports stars in expensive cars. They are the superbly fit athletes who train hard to develop the endurance and skills they need to help make our beaches among the safest in the world."

Mr Gurr's words are echoed by Surf Life Saving New Zealand's Chairman, Peter Thorpe, who says he speaks for every lifeguard around the country when he says how meaningful it is to be nominated for the award.

"This is a great honour for the fantastic athletes who patrol our beaches on a volunteer basis every summer."

Mr Thorpe added that the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Surf League event was also one of the few contests in which men and women athletes competed together on equal terms.

"The teams comprise men and women, they compete in the same events and in the same conditions," he said.

"Very importantly, the skills they hone for the surf league competition at Mount Maunganui each year are the same skills they use to rescue swimmers in trouble. The event gives Surf Life Saving New Zealand a high profile. It shows that being involved with surf life saving is a fun way to be fit and active, as well as being a great way to learn the water skills that may one day help save a life."

Mr Thorpe congratulated Kellogg's Nutri-Grain for its long-term commitment to supporting the annual surf league competition and other surf events.

"We are largely a volunteer organisation that needs corporate support, such as Kellogg's, in order to survive and to continue helping save lives on the beaches. This is a fine example of a corporate that gives back to a sport."


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