Veterans dominate Haulashore Island event in final race of Nelson Triathlon Club's summer swim series
Many regular sea swimmers take a spin around Haulashore Island for recreation or pleasure reasonably often.
The circuit has been an annual event on the Clements Windows and Doors Endurance Series for nearly a decade.
Strangely, Hamish Neill has never before ventured through the cut, but the veteran swimmer didn't let that hold him back as he left a quality field of 64 swimmers in his wake in the final race of the Nelson Triathlon Club's summer swim programme.
A couple of ships took advantage of the high tide to enter the harbour, causing a delay in the start, but a procession soon formed as swimmers headed to the 'dolphin' navigation marker and out through slightly choppy conditions in The Cut.
Out the back of Haulashore things smoothed out, but a test was to come as the field rounded the south end of the island.
Swimmers needed to decide whether to take the shortest route and risk hitting rocks or go slightly wider for a clear journey.
Ben Van Dyke and Kerry Mathieson cut things fine, running aground and having to revise their course, but they made up ground after that, swimming stroke for stroke as they progressed through the field.
Peter Johnson made one of his regular trips up from Christchurch hoping for a good results, but couldn't match Neill in the final kick from the dolphin to the yacht club ramp.
Neill stood up after 40 minutes flat, with Johnson making it a one-two for swimmers over 50, finishing in 40min 49sec.
Canadian triathlete Rachel McBride stuck with the leaders most of the way, finishing next in 41min 12sec to lead the women's field.
She had to scamper over the last 100m, just holding off Jon Linyard (41.14), Andrew Martin (41.25) and Glen Findlay (41.26).
Lynette Griffiths was seventh, the 53-year-old Christchurch swimmer, a regular migrant to long events in Nelson, finishing second in the women's field in 41min 43sec, followed closely by Van Dyke (41.49) and Mathieson (41.59).
Christina Harris continued the 50+ theme, taking the fourth women's spot in 42min 29sec, ahead of Chris Vincent (42.40).
Christchurch swimmer Simon Oliver (43.01) swam without a wetsuit, leading home a quality group of three including Denis Cooper (43.02), Paul Peacock (43.04) and Simon Bloomberg (43.05).
The oldest male and female respectively were Derek Eaton, 74, who finished 26th in 49min 59sec, and Margaret Johnston, 61, 28th in 51min 53sec.
Five swimmers took advantage of the short option to make the trip out to the dolphin and return, with Janis Crampton reaching the yacht club ramp after 16min 17sec, ahead of Bruce Bell (20.42).