McGuinniety leads the field home in Sunday's Ironman Challenge sea swim
Conditions were near-perfect for 70 swimmers in the 10th annual Ironman Challenge, the third race in this year's Clements Windows and Doors Endurance Swim Series, held from Tahunanui Beach on Sunday.
Matai McGuinniety has never won a race in either the endurance series or the Thursday night Port Nelson series, but he's been knocking at the door for some time.
Kerry Mathieson has plenty of experience, the 49-year-old having won over this distance twice before.
From the start, a group of three broke away, McGuinniety, Terry Bone and Matthew Hansen sticking together on the long haul up the harbour to a point near Victoria Rd, then turning left to round the 'dolphin' navigation marker over towards Haulashore Island.
With a high tide, the swimmers were able to stick close to the island as they rounded the shallows at the southeastern toe and headed for the navigation marker by the island's southwest corner.
McGuinniety decided this was the point at which to make a break, with a long leg of about 1200m back to the beach. The tactic worked and he ran ashore to finish in 46 minutes 29 seconds.
Bone and Hansen stuck together for about half the distance before Bone made a break, finishing second in 46min 55sec, with Hansen, the winner in 2009 and 2010, third in 47min 11sec.
Mathieson arrived at the start doubtful if she had the energy to perform well after having spent the previous day rescuing whales in Golden Bay.
Riding on adrenalin, she came to within a second of her winning time of last year, finishing in 50min 33sec, a result she described as completing 'one of the best weekends of my life".
Christina Harris and Jude Vincent continued their see-saw rivalry, with Harris taking second place in 51min 48sec, ahead of Vincent (52.31).
In the short race over 1300m from the Richardson St Steps to the beach, Josh Sheridan led the way to finish in 18min 54sec, ahead of Angus Perham (19.34), Robert Sheridan (20.40), Josh Barber (21.55) and Charlie Barton (24.34).
Full results at nelsonseaswims.co.nz