Thomas Heaton splashes through shorter swim at Port Nelson Series race
There's never been a season like this in the 29-year history of the Port Nelson Sea Swims.
By February the seas are usually calm, the swims stretching out to long tours of the harbour in soft and silky conditions.
This summer there's been a record four cancellations because of rough conditions and last night a fifth was narrowly averted, following last week's abandonment.
Even so, it was rough, so the proposed swim of more than 1500m was shortened to 600m.
Most swimmers thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, punching through the waves, knowing the extra effort didn't have to be sustained for all that long.
The swim may have been short, but it gave ample time for specialist swimmer Thomas Heaton to build a lead of a minute, as he splashed his way to victory in 6 minutes 46 seconds, with triathlete Hayden Squance a predictable runnerup in 7min 41sec, ahead of Terry Bone (7.51), Hamish Neill (8.02), Simon Kneebone (8.17) and Angus Perham (8.19).
Talya Harwood continued on her way to a series victory as she finished in seventh place to lead the women's field in a time of 8min 20sec.
Kerry Mathieson was next in 8min 48sec, while Christina Harris (8.50) recovered from a rough patch over the past few weeks to finish third in the women's field, tightening her grip in the F50-59 section.
Georgie Trengrove (8.52) was close behind, ahead of Flossie Van Dyke (9.02), Britta Martin (9.09), Megan Falloon (10.33), Margaret Johnston (10.36), Wendy Healey (10.40) and Jess Hildyard (10.42).
Tight finishes were the order of the day and an extremely low tide added to the misery of the rough conditions, making it difficult for swimmers to find their feet as they staggered on to the yacht club ramp across rocks and barnacles in shallow water at the finish.
The short swim was reduced to 400m, with the first three clearing out, leaving a gap of more than two minutes to the rest of the field.
Josh Sheridan stopped the clock at 7min 31sec, ahead of Caitlyn Huhu (7.40) and Robert Sheridan (7.46).
Sean Trengrove continued his consistent season form wading ashore after 9min 58sec, followed by Travis Cook (10.08), Simon Kinsey (10.19), Juanita Holmwood (10.43) and Dick Jones (10.48), the 72-year-old commenting that the older competitors knew there wasn't time to stress about the conditions.
With only two swims to go, cancellations mean the series now comes down to the best of ten from the 14 possible swims, so competitors will be keen to make the most of the points still available.
On Sunday there's the chance to combine beach running with swimming as the Beach Aquathlon gets underway at 11am. The race is open to all, with registration on the beach from 10am.
Swim results at nelsonseaswims.co.nz.