Since taking up competitive surf lifesaving as an enthusiastic 14-year-old, Duncan McKenzie has seen and experienced most that the sport has had to offer for the best part of 40 years.
Yet the Mairangi Bay Surf Life Saving club member and former New Zealand representative does not mind admitting he can’t wait for what will be his first taste of the quadrennial multi-sports festival when the World Masters Games 2017 hits Auckland.
“’I’m excited and looking forward to welcoming people from all over the world to Takapuna Beach – which is basically my home beach,” admits Duncan. “I am sure many people will come over from Australia and we can encourage others from Europe, USA, Canada, Japan and elsewhere on the Pacific Rim to join us and enjoy the hospitality that the North Shore and Auckland has to offer.”
Surf lifesaving is in Duncan’s blood. His godparent Allan Lee was heavily involved in the sport as a successful competitor and leading official, his father offiiciated and it was no great surprise Duncan excelled, winning a host of national junior titles and later appearing twice for New Zealand.
Actively involved in masters’ competition today, the 52-year-old Singapore Airlines sales executive specialises in the board race and surf-ski events and plans to target these two disciplines at World Masters Games 2017.
“I’ve always been a good board paddler. It is very similar to a swimming stroke – except you are kneeling on the board. Ski-surf is a bit more technical and it is like paddling a kayak. I’d like to think I could make a couple of finals at World Masters Games 2017,” explains Duncan, who will compete in the 50-54 age bracket and may also be acting as an official at the Games.
The Aucklander still trains in the ocean three times a week and has maintained the McKenzie family tradition for surf lifesaving through his daughters – Danielle, 20 and Kayla, 17 - the former of which snared two gold medals in the board race and line throw at last year’s World Championships in France.
He describes witnessing Danielle’s success as one of the proudest moments in his time involved in the sport, but World Masters Games 2017 he insists will also be a highlight and he has urged any surf lifesaver not to miss out on the opportunity to attend.
“Takapuna is a reasonably flat beach and this allows it to cater for all ages and range of abilities whether you are 70 or 80 years old down to aged 30,” he explains. “I know a lot of people in the movement stopped competing in their 30s and 40s, but as this event is on the doorstep for so many New Zealanders it would be great to see as many as possible competing.”