Firefighting surfers find another use for water

23:02, Mar 18 2014
Ross Pounds
JUST SURFING: Ross Pounds, left, from New Plymouth Fire Station, with Wellington fireman Dan Clarke at the fire service’s two-day annual surf competition at Opunake. 

Firefighter Warwick Reed is an old soul when it comes to surfing.

Mr Reed, 67, has been surfing for 50 years and was the oldest entrant at the two-day New Zealand Fire Service National Annual Surf Competition held in Opunake.

More than 40 firefighters from around the North Island competed in the event, which offered a number of divisions, including open, under-40s, 40-49 years, 50-64 years and 65-plus, women's longboard, novice and Still Can't Stand.

The Stand Up Paddleboard category was also introduced in this year's competition.

It might have been the competition's 11th year but it was Mr Reed's first time entering in the event.

He is a volunteer firefighter with the Tapu Volunteer Fire Brigade in the Waikato and a busy schedule as a motel business owner had stopped him from entering in previous years.

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"They say wisdom comes with age and also there's no fool like an old fool," Mr Reed said.

However, he was "pretty excited" about the competition. "I have not surfed in the Naki since 1969," he said.

The surf competition was a chance to mix with various fire crews, Mr Reed said.

Fellow first-time entrant Jeremy Willan, of New Plymouth West Volunteer Fire Station, said his station had signed him up for the competition.

He said the station encouraged social events that combined fitness training.

"So I thought I'll give it a go," Mr Willan said.

Mannie Hargreaves, of Wellington, has been entering the competition since it started in 2003.

He said the day was about "surfing and catching up with mates".

A prizegiving ceremony at 7pm today at the Opunake Volunteer Fire Brigade caps off the event.

Taranaki Daily News