Unlikely trio lead East End's charge

COACHING TRIO: East End’s new coaching panel, from left, Trevor Corkin, Pete Godwin and Joel Meuli have their sights set high.
COACHING TRIO: East End’s new coaching panel, from left, Trevor Corkin, Pete Godwin and Joel Meuli have their sights set high.

Three coaches whose ages range from 22 to 70 would not appear to have much in common.

However, in the case of East End's unlikely coaching combination, the range of age and experience is combined with a mutual passion for developing new talent.

Taranaki's oldest surf club is on a mission to restore its glory days of being a top 10 placegetter in the traditional surf sports of swimming, paddling, running and rowing.

Not content with being New Zealand's top IRB club, East End has set themselves the goal of being equally adept at the old school surf disciplines so they can continue to provide their 180 juniors with plenty of sports options after they qualify as lifeguards.

Having achieved top place at the IRB nationals in five of the last six years, East End found themselves a long way short of that level at recent national championships for the more traditional surf lifesaving events.

"Back in 2000 we finished fourth out of about 80 clubs in the same year that NPOB finished first and Fitzroy fifth," said East End chairman Heath Tarrant.

"For a few years after that we were in the top 10 competition clubs but in recent seasons we've been down amongst the mid-ranked clubs hovering around 30th place," he added.

"The key problem for us has been attracting and retaining a high calibre surf coach who can put in place the necessary programmes to develop all the young talent we have coming out of the junior surf section of the club."

Following East End's centenary in 2013, the club set about hauling themselves out of the surf sports doldrums. The first step was unleashing keen surf boat fanatic Pete Godwin (57) who in the space of two seasons has built up a squad of 45 surf boat rowers from scratch.

This was followed in the middle of last year by coaxing club life member and long-time coach Trevor Corkin out of retirement to mentor a new head coach in Joel Meuli.

While for 22-year-old Meuli it was his first season coaching, for Corkin, 70, it was a continuation of something he has been doing for more than 50 years, including a stint as New Zealand coach.

"Last season was definitely a rebuilding season for us and results at national level were not spectacular," Corkin said.

"But we now have a solid platform to build on including a detailed off-season programme which is already well under way. There's a 50-year age gap between me and Joel but we're on the same wavelength when it comes to doing what's best for East End."

Corkin said the motivation for him was pride in his club and a determination to see the paddling, swimming and running disciplines back to a respectable level.

"The IRBs and surf boats already had a solid coaching structure in place heading into last season but I came back to work with Joel to ensure the same thing could be said for the other surf sports events."

Time will tell if the age group blend in the East End coaching group will continue their initial success but according to chairman Heath Tarrant there is every sign the mix is right.

Taranaki Daily News