Kiwis rule waves and leave Aussies floundering
New Zealand's surf lifesavers coasted home on the crest of a wave at Glenelg Beach in Adelaide yesterday to claim the world championship crown for the first time since 1998 and end Australia's domination in the sport's spiritual home.
Any trans-Tasman sporting victory is sweet and remarkably the Kiwi contingent were able to plan their celebrations early on the final day.
In Egypt two years ago New Zealand led at the conclusion of the pool-based events and the first day on the coastline, only to be overhauled at the death.
But there was no repeat yesterday as Australia's gun competitors barely eroded New Zealand's massive 91-point advantage.
As the outcome became apparent, Australian officials and fans turned glum as their team of superstar ironmen and women floundered.
There were wild scenes as the Kiwis took ownership of the Alan B Whelpton Trophy for the first time since Cory Hutchings and Trent Bray propelled the team to victory in 1998.
On that occasion Australia famously neglected to bring the trophy with them and had to get it couriered over the Tasman on the last day - this time it took pride of place on the waterfront.
New Zealand's campaign went to plan from the outset inside the Adelaide Aquatic Centre where world record breakers Samantha Lee, Natasha Hind plus London Olympic men's team swimmers Andy McMillan, Steven Kent and kayaker Steven Ferguson constructed the necessary buffer.
The women could then relax as the beach and ocean specialists ensured their gold medal-winning exploits were not in vain.
New Zealand finished on 844 points, a massive 79 clear of their hosts.
While McMillan, Kent and Ferguson are veterans, the championships also unearthed new stars.
Devon Halligan, 19, smashed a quality field to win the women's ski race yesterday while young ironman Max Beattie also performed beyond expectations by finishing second.