It was seven in a row for Opua's Port Valley Underwater Club.
The unstoppable winners of the Russell to Paihia Snorkel/Scuba Relay Race finished one minute and seven seconds off their record time but beat their nearest competitors by nearly four minutes during Saturday's 30th running of the unique race.
The relay race sees one member from each team splashing into the water from the beach at Russell and five snorklers relaying across the bay to a scuba diver waiting near Paihia who then makes it back to dry land and stops the clock at the timers' table.
All 13 teams looked evenly matched, but Opua's Port Valley slowly extended its lead, finishing in 39 minutes.
Darren Shields' Auckland-based spearfishing team came second in 42:52, and the last team made it back in over an hour and a quarter.
Opua Port Valley's Chris Hornell says that his team-mates are aware of their age - 40 and 50-somethings dominated the entire field, including Auckland University's much younger underwater club - but the system they have in place and their training gives them an advantage.
“It pushes us harder if we've got someone right with us,” Mr Hornell says.
“It gives us a good chase.
“In the past we've had some good teams; this year we expected some of the teams to be stronger," he says.
"They were quite close to us at the beach leaving Russell but we slowly extended.”
The course changed slightly this year, with the finish farther north along the beach, and with a tail wind the team believed it could get under its previous record time.
But without any serious challenge at the end of the race, the team fell off its pace.
Garth Craig was one of the guys who started the race in 1982 when his team thought it would be “sort of a one off”.
But the event has just kept going.
It is charmingly off-the-wall and attracts a good mix of entrants, even if the numbers and the types of teams has fluctuated over the years.
Mr Craig was still running the shop he helped to start, Paihia Dive, Hire and Charter says the race filled a unique niche.
“It's the only one I've ever heard of,” he says.
“Being a dive shop, we wanted to incorporate something to do with diving," Mr Craig says.
"For a while we thought about scuba-ing the whole way, which was just ‘off the edge'.
“But then snorkelling came into it. Yeah . . . it was hatched over a few beers. Something to do over the winter when there wasn't much happening,” Mr Craig says.
It's always been encouraged as more of a social event than something like an ironman, he says, despite an early misapprehension that it was a solo swim.
Kelly Tarlton was on hand for the awards presentation in the event's first year and in its early days the race went the other way, with a finish at Russell.
It's an event that celebrates the lifestyle of those who love what some might see as extreme pursuits. And the race itself has its own lore.
“The story goes that we were chucked out of Russell, but that isn't quite true,” Mr Craig says of the current direction of the swim.
He's seen different levels of competition and different sizes of races, as the number of teams has fluctuated, but he relishes the race's grassroots appeal after 30 years.
“How big would you want it to be, really,” he says.
“For a time it was just the locals."
- Bay Chronicle