Andrea Hewitt competes at surf life saving champs

THROWBACK: sisters Tina (L) and Andrea (R) competed neck to neck in the Gillette Diamond Lady Surf Ironman to tie for a first overall placing on Mt Maunganui beach in 1997. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The country’s premier women’s triathlete Andrea Hewitt will return to her roots, competing at the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships in New Brighton.

Earlier this month Hewitt, 34, was on top of the world stage when she won the opening round of the World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi.

She will now return to the same stretch of beach she regularly competes on, as one of more than 1200 surf life saving athletes taking on four intense days of racing.

Hewitt will compete in a number of events in today’s masters category and will also team up with her sister Tina Cox to compete in the board rescue for South Brighton.

Hewitt is a previous Surf Life Saving New Zealand team member and has accumulated a number of national titles over the years, including a dominant display when the national championships where held at New Brighton in 2004.

There she won the Ironman and run-swim-run titles, and also teamed up with her sister to win the board rescue.

This year’s championships get under way today with the masters events (age 30-plus) before three days of open events.

The event was supposed to be held in Christchurch in 2011 to celebrate 100 years of surf life saving, but due to the February earthquake three weeks prior it was relocated.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand sport manager Mike Lord says it’s fantastic to be coming back to Christchurch for the 11th time and supporting the New Brighton club in hosting such a major event.

At the conclusion of the national champs on Sunday, Surf Life Saving New Zealand will announce its high performance squads for the 2018 Life Saving World Championship campaign.