By Peter Gibbs
Local knowledge paid big dividends for Hayden Squance as he outwitted the field and slipped home for his first win of the season in the Port Nelson swims from the Nelson Yacht Club on Thursday.
A field of 114 chose the long course of about 1200m, heading 450m south into a frisky tide before a turn to the west took them through a rougher passage to the 'dolphin' navigation marker, then back to an offshore buoy near the finish line.
Family ties: Women's winner Abbey Smale gets a good luck hug from her father Mark prior to last week's Port Nelson sea swim. Photo: Melinda Baigent.
As usual, the lead group stayed close together, getting the advantage of each others draft, but Squance took a chance with a line close to the shore, where the current can often be far less.
It was a longer route but the advantage became clear, as Squance reached the first mark with a 10m buffer.
The lead group spread into single file as the pace went on in pursuit, but to no avail. The leader held his nerve and his position to finish in 14 minutes 9 seconds, a margin of 12 seconds over Bendi Kepess in one of the biggest winning margins in a season of tight finishes.
Series leader Luke Kelly (14.28) narrowly took third place ahead of Alex Swan (14.29), Fergus Drummond (14.54), Oxford Bayley (15.14) and Ben Marshall (15.30).
Abbey Smale (15.35) was next to finish, taking her fourth women's victory from the last five swims to lead the women's points table. One second behind was the ultra-consistent Sophie Alexander in her fourth runner-up spot in the eight races so far. In each of the other races she has finished third.
Consistent: Sophie Alexander claimed her fourth second place finish in the women's section at Thursday's Port Nelson swim. Photo: Melinda Baigent.
The next women's positions were filled by Sierra Thomas (16.04), Isabella Thurlow (16.32), Madeline Shallcrass (17.08) and Zara Aydon (17.28).
In age group competition, F30-39 leader Ruth Thomas suffered her first loss of the season, going down to top Christchurch triathlete Julia Grant.
Ben Marshall (M30-39), Christina Harris (F50-59), Hamish Neill (M50-59) and Janis Crampton (F60-69) continued their unbeaten records.
Although Ben Van Dyke (M60-69) and Stuart Hebberd (M70-79) suffered a loss early in the season, both won their categories this week and look certain to go on to win the series, although there are still another nine swims to go before the season ends.
Thirty-two swimmers took on the short swim of about 500 with Brooke Swan (6.58) edging home ahead of Corban Holland (6.59) and Tom Perkins (7.00).
Lilly Hall (7.10), Calum Coombes (7.33) and Caitlin Alexander (7.55) were next to finish.
Swimming continues in the series next week.
Full results, photos and information at nelsonseaswims.co.nz.